Hacks for hire? Group markets cyber strikes

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Hackers behind Christmas Day attacks on the online gaming networks for Sony’s PlayStation and Microsoft’s Xbox systems are offering their wares up for sale to the public.

The group calling itself Lizard Squad on Tuesday launched a website claiming to offer the tools to overwhelm a target’s servers and force it offline. The relatively common way to take down a website is known as a distributed denial of service (DDOS) attack and can be automatically launched by for-hire Internet programs known as booters or stressers.

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“This booter is famous for taking down some of the world's largest gaming networks such as XBOX Live, PlayStation Network, Jagex, BattleNet, League of Legends and many more!” the group says in an introduction to its new online market. 

“With this stresser, you wield the power to launch some of the world's largest denial of service attacks,” it added.

The group currently accepts only bitcoins, a virtual currency that can exchanged anonymously online, but has plans to accept PayPal soon, it said.

The lowest-priced hack costs $5.99 per month for a 100 second attack, and goes up to $129.99 per month for an attack lasting 30,000 seconds — or more than eight hours.

In addition to the Christmas attack, which was largely resolved after a few days, the Lizard Squad group has also taken credit for a series of attacks on the PlayStation Network stretching back to 2011, as well as attacks on other gaming networks. 

The organization also might have ties to hackers responsible for the massive attack at Sony Pictures, which crippled the studio in recent weeks. Many security experts remain skeptical of the FBI's conclusion that North Korea carried out the attack in retribution for the production of “The Interview” — a comedy about a fictional assassination attempt on leader Kim Jong Un — and Lizard Squad members have publicly said that they played a role in the attack.