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Holiday Hackers Threaten Xbox Live, PSN

December 17, 2015, 3:29 PM UTC
Person wears a Guy Fawkes mask which today is a trademark and symbol for the online hacktivist group Anonymous. 2012.
Person wears a Guy Fawkes mask which today is a trademark and symbol for the online hacktivist group Anonymous. 2012. (Photo by: PYMCA/UIG via Getty Images)
Photograph by PYMCA/UIG via Getty Images

After ruining the days after Christmas for thousands of gamers last year, hackers are once again threatening to disrupt the online services of Xbox and PlayStation this holiday.

Hacker group Phantom Squad has spent the better part of the past week issuing threats to Microsoft (MSFT) and Sony (SNE), saying it plans to use Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks to knock Xbox Live and PlayStation Network offline beginning on Christmas Day. The group has threatened to continue the attack for the full week between Christmas and New Year’s—a period that traditionally sees heavy usage of the services as people enjoy their new consoles.

“We are going to shut down Xbox live and PSN this year on christmas [sic]. And we are going to keep them down for one week straight #DramaAlert,” the group said in a now-deleted tweet. While it has removed that original threat, it continues to imply an upcoming attack against the companies in different ways.

The group claims to be behind Monday night’s outage of reddit, which lasted roughly two hours. (Reddit’s own status update says its databases were under “extreme load,” which could indicate a DDoS attack.) It also says it is responsible for recent attacks on Take-Two Interactive Software’s (TTWO) Grand Theft Auto Online and Bethesda’s The Elder Scrolls Online.

Should the group follow through with its threats, it will be frustratingly familiar territory for the two console makers. Last year, a group calling itself Lizard Squad claimed responsibility for taking down the online services of both systems on Christmas Eve. That attack went on for days until a peace was brokered by Internet mogul Kim Dotcom.

Dotcom hinted he does not plan to intervene this year if the services are compromised once more.

Phantom Squad said on Twitter that it has no affiliation with Lizard Squad. And, as is often the case in the hacker community, taunted its predecessors.

Xbox Live has 39 million active users, Microsoft announced in an earnings call in October. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella says roughly half of all Xbox One owners log into Xbox Live every day.

Sony has not recently updated the number of PlayStation Network users, but it topped 110 million in 2013—and the popularity of the PS4 (which has sold 30 million units since its 2013 launch) has likely increased that number substantially.

Consoles are expected to be popular gifts this holiday season as the mainstream audience begins to finally shift from the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 to current generation consoles.

Neither Microsoft nor Sony immediately replied to requests for comment about the threat. Should either company do so, Fortune will update this story.

Here’s what it looked like when Lizard Squad struck last Christmas:

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