Hackers Are Bad, But the Internet Might Be Worse
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About over a week ago, on Christmas Eve if I recall correctly, I ventured onto League of Legends just to play a couple of games to pass the time before bed (and maybe level up my profile in the process). After I put in my account details I then waited as the login notification did its authentication thing. I waited there for a moment, staring at the text that was on the notification, until a small alarm bell went off at the back of my mind. “This is taking longer than usual,” I thought. “What’s up with this? It should have gone through the process by now.” About five more seconds had passed until the login notification changed into an entirely different notification: a login error, one I’d never seen before in my short time on League.

(Thanks to Kotaku for the image).

I skimmed through this new notification and didn’t really think much of it, because the internet on my side was working fine (YouTube, Skype and Steam were working) and because I had a hunch that the EU West servers were down due to Riot just installing its RiotDirect into its Frankfurt datacentre, so I simply left the issue at that and just watched some YouTube videos before bed instead.

The next morning, however, when I brought up the issue in a question to one of my friends who plays League on a near-daily basis and asked him if he was able to play the previous night, I was told that the server was shut down by a DDoS attack by a cracker group calling themselves DERP who were targeting a Twitch streamer. I was astounded by this news, but even though I trusted his word I was still in concerned disbelief, so together we researched it a bit further.

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In our brief research we found developing stories on the affair, some quite brief and others very detailed. As an overview, we found out that the group were DDoSing whichever servers of games Twitch user PhantomL0rd was playing. This included servers and services for games for Dota 2, League of Legends, and even Club Penguin (for some reason) and Blizzard’s Battle.net. The group even went as far as closing down EA’s website for whatever reason. As we did a little more digging we found that the police had gone to PhantomL0rd’s home and arrested him, and were in the process of searching his house. We sort of just left it at that, as the story was still developing and ongoing. The EU West servers were back up and running later that day though, so we played a couple of games before the New Year turned.

As the days went on I still kept open the tabs I found when doing that brief research that day, and found time this morning to fully read into them (since I assumed the story itself was fairly rounded off and just about finished). As it turns out, according to Reddit, DERP claimed responsibility for allegedly shutting down League of Legends’ NA, EU and Oceania servers on December 30. Later on, Twitch streamer PhantomL0rd started streaming, and the group attacked and shut down the servers to whatever Phantom was trying to play, including Dota 2, Quake Live, Club Penguin, Battle.net and EA.com (though it appears that the general concensus is that EA.com was just a random pick and “just for the lulz” on DERP’s part).

Phantom (who was surprisingly taking it all in stride) soon got into contact with this group via a Ventrilo server. In the first discussion, he asked why the crackers (who were surprisingly not as malicious in tone as I would anticipate perpetrators of this sort of act to be) were taking down servers, to which one of the group members simply replied with, “for the lulz,” followed by a rather ominous, “it’s also a test.” The conversation disconnected shortly after, but was then picked up again, but then was disconnected again.

It was around this time that DERP threatened Phantom via Twitter during a Dota 2 stream that if he took a bad turn during match they would shut down the servers again, which they later did. Phantom got into contact with group again in another Ventrilo server, which was sort of like a interview, where Phantom asked the group on behalf of the viewers of the stream’s chat. Apparently their objectives were to simply do it “for the lulz” and to make money-hungry companies mad. One question asked about the previous statement from the group about there being a “test”, but no answer was given (at least one wasn’t visible in the screenshots taken). That conversation was soon disconnected as well.

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Things started to escalate exceptionally quickly after that, when one of Phantom’s moderators was said to have announced in the stream’s chat that police were called to Phantom’s house for a hostage situation, which was later confirmed by Phantom himself once he came back to the stream from being AFK. Even Twitch staff were in the chat with great concern, banning anyone who was posting disclosed information such as references to Phantom’s personal data. Phantom’s stream itself was then put offline by the Twitch staff themselves. Soon after, Phantom made a couple of posts on his Facebook (post #1, post #2), updating his followers on what was happening (done via his mobile’s own network I assume).

A few hours later, Phantom’s stream came back online after he’d announced that he’d come back to explain the rest of the situation, where he proceeded to retell the events from his perspective. He was released with no charges, but despite that the police revisited his house along with the fire department sometime during his retelling. No further action has been taken as far as I’m aware. I think it’s safe to say it’s all done and dusted now.

The whole affair has been widely debated between those who believe that this was a genuine act of malice, those who believe Phantom was in on it, those who believe it was all a publicity stunt, and others who just threw themselves in for purposes of general dickary. I choose to believe that Phantom is indeed the innocent in this story, and I hope that he has managed to get everything sorted out for him.

Sources: Polygon and Reddit.

Kieran Mackintosh
Kieran Mackintosh
@KingSongbird

Contributing Writer
Date: 01/07/2014

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