The core members of a group calling itself “Lizard Squad” — which took responsibility for attacking Sony’s Playstation and Microsoft‘s Xbox networks and knocking them offline for Christmas Day — want very much to be recognized for their actions. So, here’s a closer look at two young men who appear to be anxious to let the world know they are closely connected to the attacks.
The LizardSquad reportedly only called off their attacks after MegaUpload founder Kim Dotcom offered the group some 3,000 vouchers for his content hosting service. The vouchers sell for $99 apiece, meaning that Dotcom effectively offered the group the equivalent of $300,000 to stop their seige.
On Dec. 26, BBC Radio aired an interview with two young men who claimed to have been involved in the attacks. The two were referred to in the interview only as “Member 1” and “Member 2,” but both have each given on-camera interviews previously (more on that in a bit).
The BBC’s Stephen Nolan asks Member 2, “It was nothing really to do with exposing a company for the greater good? You took the money and you ran, didn’t you, like a petty criminal?”
M2: “Well, we didn’t really expect money from it in the first place. If we really cared about money we could have used the twitter accounts that we generated over 50,000 followers within 24-48 hours we could have used that for monetization, you know? We could have easily sent out a couple of linked….profiles or whatever where each click could gain us three to six cents.”
Nolan: “So why did you take the vouchers, then?
M2: “It was just an offer. It’s hard to say. It was just a one-time thing. It’s $300,000 worth of vouchers.”
Nolan: “Dirty, grubby, greed?”
M2: “Well, that’s what happens, I’m afraid. That’s what it is like in the security business.”
Member2, the guy that does most of the talking in the BBC interview, appears to be a 22-year-old from the United Kingdom named Vinnie Omari. Sky News ran an on-camera interview with Omari on Dec. 27, quoting him as a “computer security analyst” as he talks about the attacks by LizardSquad and their supposed feud with a rival hacker gang.
The same voice can be heard on this video from Vinnie’s Youtube channel, in which he enthuses about hackforums[dot]net, a forum that is overrun with teenage wannabe hackers who spend most of their time trying to impress, attack or steal from one another.
In a thread on Hackforums that Omari began on Dec. 26 using the Hackforums username “Vinnie” Omari says he’s been given vouchers from Kim Dotcom’s Mega, and wonders if the Hackforums rules allow him to sell the vouchers on the forum.
Member 1 from the BBC interview also gave an on-camera interview to Sky News, although he does not give his real name; he offers a pseudonym — “Ryan.” According to multiple sources, this individual is a Finnish teenager named Julius Kivimäki who has used a variety of online monikers, including “Zee,” “Zeekill” and “Ry|an.”
Sources say Kivimäki was arrested by Helsinki police in October 2013 on suspicion of running a huge botnet consisting of more than 60,000 hacked Web servers around the world. Local Finnish media reported on the youth’s arrest, although they didn’t name him. Kivimäki, 16, also was reportedly found in possession of more than 3,000 stolen credit cards.
Both of these individuals may in fact be guilty of nothing more than taking credit for other peoples’ crimes. But I hope it’s clear to the media that the Lizard Squad is not some sophisticated hacker group.
The Lizard Squad’s monocle-wearing mascot shows them to be little more than a group of fame-seeking kids who desperately aspire to be like LulzSec, a similarly minded gang whose core members were busted and went to jail. With any luck, these kids will get their wish soon enough.