Anonymous DDoS Sony, attacks on employees feared

Online 'hacktivist' collective Anonymous has brought down Sony websites with a series of DDoS attacks, while a radical splinter group is accused of plotting personal attacks against the company's employees.

Anonymous members yesterday announced OpSony, a campaign of attacks on the consumer electronics giant in retaliation for the company's legal moves against George Hotz, known as GeoHot, and a German associate going by the moniker Graf_chokolo. The pair are accused of involvement in the opening of the PS3 games console up to third-party firmware.

OpSony began with a series of DDoS attacks that briefly brought down a number of websites including Sony's official UK and European PS3 pages, as well as the PlayStation Network. The website of lawyers Kilpatrick Townsend, the legal firm handling Sony's PS3 litigation, was also clobbered.

But reports soon emerged of a splinter group alleged to be planning more extreme action under the banner of SonyRecon.

According to a report on gaming site PlayStation Lifestyle, IRC user randomtask announced the group's founding on Anonymous's OpSony chat:

ok i made a chan #sonyrecon for people to gather and contribute dox, and work towards a common goal of finding and information and detailing useful targets

'Dox' refers to details about an individual's details that can be used for the purposes of fraud or other attacks.

Suggestions among the SonyRecon group have included posting listings on small ads site Craigslist offering 'erotic services'; sending anonymous e-postcards notifying the recipients that a previous partner has AIDS; or bombarding targets with masses of free UPS postage boxes and labels.

The SonyRecon faction has already uncovered personal details about Sony executives Robert S Wiesenthal, Nicole Seligman and boss Howard Stringer. One member even complained ominously: "No one found ANY info on Stringers kids?"

However, in a post on Twitter this morning, Youness Alaoui (@KaKaRoToKS), the founder of open-source console site PSFreedom, sought to reassure users that individuals would not be targeted for further attacks:

"Just spoke with the guy from #SonyRecon, he assures me there is nothing like that, no attacks on people and no plans to, ONLY *recon*, gathering information that is already publicly available, in the hopes of finding something incriminating to help in the lawsuit. Anonymous is against violence or threatening/attacking people. He says nothing illegal is being done, and news sites are reporting the information wrong."

More details as events unfold.