I was reading through my Facebook wall, as I generally tend to after work, and noticed something. I noticed that Sony had located a file called "Anonymous" on their server. The immediate conclusion as this was a file left by the famed group Anonymous while hacking the PSN. I thought this was kind of odd because why on Earth would they leave a file called "Anonymous" on the server? It seems to me that a hacker, capable of hacking into PSN, effectively shutting down a corporations cash flow and gaming line of business for several weeks, and "stealing" a boat load of user information would not leave a file, named after the famous group that they are representing, on a server. It's the equivalent of robbing a bank, a big bank, and leaving my driver's license on the counter. If you're going to rob a big bank, you don't bring your driver's license.
"The fact that Sony has said that the people who hacked its servers erased log files to cover their steps makes it look extremely unlikely that they would also have left a text file linking them back to Anonymous if that were their origin." - Guardian (My links aren't working, just go to Guardian and look up this blog from 5/5/11 "anonymous-accuses-sony-hack-playstation-network") [Just as a note, this link popped up as I was writing this article, so I figured it would be a good quote to insert!]
Okay, so I moved on, fishy, but whatever. Then, it happened, the crucial "Aha" moment. I saw another article, claiming that gamers might "backlash" against Anonymous.
"Anonymous Fears Nerd Backlash From PlayStation Hack" -Gawker (Again my links aren't working, but go to Gawker and look up "anonymous-fears-nerd-backlash-from-playstation-hack")
That clicked it all together. What is the best way to destroy Anonymous? A group that has a swarm mind, one that functions in sync but without an obvious leader. A direct attack will only increase its numbers. If you take out 1 hacker, 5 more will spring up in their place. If you raid every home and destroy every piece of equipment, the movement will get stronger. The resistance will rise. However, there is one eloquent way to dismantle the group. Simply turn those that would join its ranks, against them. Look, it's no secret gamers are mostly nerds, and it's a good chance that gamers know a bit about computers, or at the very least support the Anonymous movement. That is, until their gaming is affected. We know this based on the original attack from Anonymous, it angered the gamers, and Anonymous stopped.
These are the keys to the puzzle, Anonymous refutes the idea that it was them, a "hacker" left the Anonymous calling card on the server, "accidentally", the people who support Anonymous will turn their backs on the group because of the PSN outage and Anonymous slowly turns from Freedom Fighter to an infamous "group of assholes that took down PSN".
So, who did the hack on PSN? Sony, with the assistance of the US gov. It's a win-win, I bet 100-1, Sony settles out of court on the class actions, the US gov "helps them investigate", no data or info is compromised because it was Sony who did it. It's a perfect situation for Sony and the US, they both win and Anonymous loses. Sony will never actually take any action against Anonymous, they will only "claim" it was them. Then, that is it, Anonymous is dissolved and discredited, Sony "makes it up to gamers", the US looks innocent and "everyone" is happy...
UPDATE 5-6-11 1419:
I no longer am leaning towards the idea that Sony is behind this, it does seem rather extreme for Sony to take this big of a slam. I'm keeping it as a possibility, but more of a distant one. I still believe that there is a large organization behind it, but more live a government or government endorsed group that set it up. I will follow up with a more detailed event time line this weekend to try and connect the dots. Also, this is the link from Guardian that seems to follow into this theory: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/cifamerica/2011/may/06/anonymous-sony
UPDATE 5-7-11 2246:
Alright, so apparently somebody has beat me to the punch on the Sony timeline. There is one circulating around the internet that does a fairly good break down, you can find it here: http://ps3.ign.com/articles/116/1165972p1.html
As of current, there have been no claims for fraudulent credit card activity. This is due to the fact that the database that was stolen and being "sold" on the internet was a database holding user information related to contest entries, which had no increminating evidence. Sony has since "taken" the site down, or had it taken down. However, the original statement about it containing credit card info caused quite a bit of stir.
Another very key point to take into consideration is the servers that Sony was using to host PSN. There were outdated, Apache I believe, with no firewall protection. Now, Sony is no Microsoft. They are not in the PC business the way MS is, so it is believable that this was the case with Sony's servers. However, this only adds onto my point. Sony, who is trailing in the console wars BTW, knows that the future of gaming relies on online. Additionally, they were attempting to roll out new services (the utilization of Steam on PSN), and I believe their servers were reaching max capacity. This could have easily played into the entire setup, it gives Sony a valid reason to tear their servers down and rebuild them to prepare for the next Gen console wars.
The reason why the theory works is that it is low risk-high gain for the US gov and med risk-high gain for Sony. In the aftermath of all this, Sony will have a stronger and better PSN, Anonymous will have been turned on by its own following and the US gov will have successfully, and quietly, squashed a cyber rebellion.
Oh and one more note, this blog got mentioned in The Atlantic Wire: The Atlantic Wire Article
Just came across an article explaining that Sony's servers were actually up to date and that the original rumor that they weren't was false: http://forum.beyond3d.com/showpost.php?p=1549251&postcount=491