Sony Executive John Smedley's AA Flight Was Grounded By A Hacker Bomb Threat
2014 has been an especially frightening year for flying, and it just got worse: An American Airlines plane carrying a Sony executive John Smedley was grounded Sunday after reportedly receiving bomb threats from hackers. According to Mashable, the hackers took to Twitter to announce that explosives were on board the plane, having allegedly hacked some PlayStation servers. Although it's still unconfirmed if the cyber breach and plane threats are connected, it's worth noting that PlayStation is distributed by Sony Entertainment, bringing everything suspiciously full circle.
Mashable reports that two hacking groups, Lizard Squad and Famed God, claimed responsibility for the attack on Sony's PlayStation servers Sunday afternoon. Lizard Squad took to Twitter to make the announcement, while Famed God released a video.
About two hours later, Lizard Squad sent out a tweet saying American Airlines Flight 362, en route from Dallas-Fort Worth to San Diego, had explosives on board. This flight just happened to have Sony Online Entertainment exec John Smedley as a passenger.
According to flight tracking system Flight Aware, the American Airlines plane was diverted to Phoenix, where it safely landed Sunday afternoon. An American Airlines spokesperson said authorities met the flight's passengers on the tarmac in Phoenix, CBS News reported.
But between the diversion and news of possible on-flight explosives, there was some confusion among the plane's 179 passengers — including Smedley himself. The exec sent out a series of annoyed tweets Sunday afternoon, criticizing American Airlines.
Somewhere along the way, Smedley was notified that the threats were directed at him, but he didn't elaborate much more on Twitter:
Meanwhile, the PlayStation blog released a statement announcing that its servers were were impacted by "artificially high traffic" on Sunday, but they are now back online. The company said no personal consumer information was compromised:
The networks were taken offline due to a distributed denial of service attack. We have seen no evidence of any intrusion to the network and no evidence of any unauthorized access to users’ personal information.
Although the connection between the cyber breach and the diverted flight is not officially confirmed, the FBI is reportedly already conducting an investigation into the incident. Meanwhile, both hacker groups seem to be fighting for responsibility of the PlayStation hack.
Here are Lizard Squad's original tweets, which state ISIS and the ongoing crisis in Iraq as the motivation behind the cyber attack:
The group also kept prodding both Smedley via Twitter, while playing it cool with the FBI:
Despite the references to ISIS, BBC News reported that the Islamist links could just be a diversionary tactic. The cyber attack on Sony and PlayStation seems to be part of a larger campaign against entertainment giants, as Microsoft's XBOX also reported functioning glitches over the weekend.