Script Kiddies, Nerd Rage, and Outage


Lots of outage over the holidays on both the PSN and XBL. How we react is the key.

I’m far from the first person who should be critical of nerd rage. I’ve broken two controllers, a keyboard, a mouse, and snapped a PS2 game clean in half. However, I’d like to think that I’ve grown past that in the intervening eight years. Mostly.

Over the Christmas holiday, there was a large amount of outage on the PSN and XBL, and as a result, people were unable to log in and play their new games. This is both bad for the consumer, and bad for the companies involved, but it’s important to get a few things straight on the matter.

There was a group of people who like to refer to themselves as hackers who were bombarding XBL over the weekend, and PSN had its own set of issues, but it’s important to understand that as much as the 14 and 15 year olds wish they were hackers, they aren’t.

The hacking of a network implies the direct breaching of the network to, usually, obtain information contained therein. What actually happened was a DDoS (distributed denial of service) attack.

So, how is this accomplished? Simply put, the script kiddie runs a script on his server machine that allows him to hijack the the signal coming from other users. He or she then attacks a single point, in this case the Xbox Live Log-in Server. Just the log-in server. In other words, they confuse the heck out of the server, and it just…stops. It can’t handle the events and shuts itself down until the culprit stops the script, or the company finds a workaround.

And this is what is important to note. It’s a script. There are websites that provide the code, and update it regularly. You simply run the code through a client. No muss, no fuss. No effort. Not hacking.

These sorts of attacks are generally perpetrated by kids who are disgruntled, annoyed or feel they are otherwise owed something by the company or those who participate in its services. In this case, they assert they are bullied in the real world, and so want to “bully” those who bully them. I assume the bullies play PS4 and Xbox One games. Oh well.

As is usual with internet drama, the internet sorts itself out. Several of these kids were, sadly, arrested. It happens. They were found out, and sold out. And that’s how these things normally resolve themselves.

But it’s not even the script kiddies that are important in this case, it’s the general reaction of the community to the outage.

Spoiler alert: it was poor. And, not for nothing, but for the most part you brought it down upon yourselves in a way.

During the DDOS attack on Christmas Day, Twitter was afire with foul language, threats and angry customers.

Please don’t misunderstand me. I’m a consumer first pundit, but I’ve never ONCE believed in the old adage of “the customer is always right”. When we yell, scream, curse and swear at Microsoft and Sony, they have little to no reason to help us out, other than to get us off their backs.

It has nothing to do with customer service at this point, it has to do with getting a pack of hyenas to shut up.

It’s not cool for us to behave that way. We’ve worked, as a community, to establish ourselves, and to move beyond what the media calls us. But the minute one of our toys stops working, we become spoiled children and prove the points of our naysayers.

And, to add insult to injury, we then cause ourselves MORE issues. When Microsoft announced the servers were functioning properly again, everyone attempted to log back in at once. This is, essentially, what a DDoS attack is, and so we shoot ourselves in the foot.

This is going to happen again, and I know I’m shouting into the wind on this with the hope that the gaming community will behave with any sort of restraint, but we need to try.

When this happens again, follow the support Twitter accounts of both Microsoft and Sony. They’ll tell you what’s going on. Check the status pages, then you’ll know what is actually happening. Log-in server down? DDoS. Everything down like Sony? Maintenance.

Nerd rage is a meme among the community for a reason. There’s a reason we all identify with the Angry Video Game Nerd. He personifies the meme. But it’s also a commentary on how silly we all look when we rage on the internet.

It’s like shouting in space. No one can hear you, and, more to the point, no one is going to care.

Script Kiddies, Nerd Rage, and Outage

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