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updated 4/11/2011 5:51:14 PM ET 2011-04-11T21:51:14

The hacktivist group Anonymous looked a little less fearsome today (April 11) after its latest attack fizzled out and its entire reason for staging the attack turned out to have been based on false pretenses.

Anonymous launched distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks on Sony’s PlayStation-related websites beginning last Monday.

The attacks protested Sony Computer Entertainment America’s (SCEA) lawsuit against hacker George Hotz, who’d cracked the encryption for the password that “unlocks” the PlayStation 3 and posted it online.

Gamers quickly complained that their favorite sites were unreachable, and so Anonymous shifted its targets to other Sony websites, which withstood the attacks.

As of this afternoon (April 11), the Sony Careers website was unreachable, but most other Sony sites were fine.

A source at one of Sony’s Web hosting providers told the tech blog Ars Technica that the Anonymous attacks "annoyed our network engineers," but were merely "medium strength."

So Anonymous has decided on a different tactic — a good, old-fashioned, 1960s-style sit-in of Sony retail outlets, as PC Magazine’s Sarah Yin reported.

A Facebook page dedicated to the boycott, planned for Saturday (April 16), has signed up nearly 2,500 people.

But another twist came today. Sony Computer Entertainment America and Hotz suddenly announced that they had settled the lawsuit.

In fact, it turned out Hotz and SCEA had reached an agreement on March 31, days before the Anonymous attacks on Sony websites had even begun.

“It was never my intention to cause any users trouble or to make piracy easier,” Hotz said in the press release. “I’m happy to have the litigation behind me.”

Despite the settlement, terms of which were confidential, Hotz called for a boycott of Sony.

“I will never purchase another SONY product. I encourage you to do the same,” he posted on one of his blogs. “And if you bought something SONY recently, return it.”

As for the money people had donated to his legal defense fund, Hotz wrote in a comment to his own posting, “I will address the donations in a forthcoming post, and I think people will be happy.”

 

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