Updated Prolific hacker pranksters LulzSec took out sci-fi game EVE Online on Tuesday as part of a run of attacks apparently perpetrated purely for the lulz.
A DDoS attack left EVE Online offline for around five hours as part of an operation called Titanic Takeover Tuesday. CCP Games, the firm behind the popular multiplayer game, said that it took both EVE Online and its own website offline as a precaution, fearing that the DDoS attacks could act as a smokescreen for deeper penetrating assaults.
CCP Games said the drastic action of taking its sites offline was warranted. We doubt many gamers would agree, especially since it seems all CCP was dealing with was a packet flood. Viewed with benefit of hindsight, he gaming firm effectively threw in the towel without even attempting to stand up to LulzSec's assault.
LulzSec also decided to attack a range of other targets including Escapist magazine's website as well as online games Minecraft and League of Legends. LulzSec invited fans of its hijinks to suggest targets, much like DJs would invite record requests. It's difficult to see any pattern behind the latest string of assaults.
LulzSec has appeared from nowhere to become the most notorious hacking group on the planet with attacks on FBI affiliates, Sony, the US Senate, a popular porn site and a string of gaming firms. Previous attacks have highlighted security weakness involving Bethesda and Nintendo.
Neither of these attacks actually affected gamers directly, unlike the latest assault on EVE Online.
Last month we reported how EVE Online had become a battlefield for botnets. Rival groups from eastern Europe are using botnets to DDoS opponents before taking over their territories, sometimes for the purpose of farming virtual currencies.
Our gut feeling is that the LulzSec DDoS is nothing to do with this, not least because its sensibilities are rooted in riffs of Americana and its members' main (native) language is English.
The group maintains an anarchic Twitter feed memorably described by Boing Boing as "like watching a rabid elephant on PCP wearing a top hat rampage through a crowded market with explosive banana diarrhoea".
Nobody quite knows who LulzSec is but one plausible theory, advanced by security author and FT journalist Joseph Menn among others, is that the group is composed of a breakaway faction of Anonymous who want to reconnect with the anarchic spirt of 4chan that spawned Anonymous in the first place.
Some have praised LulzSec for its gonzo-security antics, saying it graphically highlighted security problems that experts have warned about for years but have often been ignored. It's unlikely that law enforcement agents would take anything like as charitable a view on its activities.
The longer LulzSec continues, and the more brazen its activities become, the more likely it is that a member will become careless, get complacent and get caught, or its members will get bored and desert. These seem like the two most plausible endgames of this cavalcade of hacking antics. ®