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Monday 22 September 2014

Sony boss on 'bomb tweet' flight

Published 26/08/2014 | 02:41

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A plane with a Sony executive on board was diverted after PlayStation Network hackers tweeted a suggested bomb threat

A Sony executive's flight was diverted after hackers attacked the company's PlayStation Network, then tweeted to suggest there was a bomb on his plane.

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American Airlines cut short the executive's flight on Sunday and made an unplanned landing in Phoenix, Arizona.

The plane with 179 passengers and a crew of six was due to fly from Dallas, Texas, to San Diego, California, but stopped for what the FBI described as a security threat. American Airlines declined to comment.

A Twitter account called Lizard Squad tweeted to American Airlines that there might be explosives on the plane carrying John Smedley, president of Sony Online Entertainment, which makes video games.

San Diego airport spokeswoman Rebecca Bloomfield said that as the plane was being re-routed, the Transportation Security Administration told airport officials that the FBI was investigating a tweet about possible explosives on the aircraft.

Sony spokesman Satoshi Nakajima said Mr Smedley was on the plane but the electronics giant could not be sure why it made the unplanned stop.

After landing in Phoenix, the plane taxied to a remote area of the airport, where passengers left and their bags were searched by police officers with dogs. American Airlines spokesman Casey Norton said the plane later resumed its flight to San Diego.

It is not the first time someone has tweeted a threat to an airline. In April, police in the Netherlands arrested a 14-year-old girl who tweeted to American Airlines that she was part of al Qaida and was "gonna do something really big bye".

When American replied six minutes later that it would turn over the matter to the FBI, the teenager posted a series of panicked tweets and said she was just a girl.

Mr Nakajima said the PlayStation Network's online services were unavailable from Sunday until yesterday afternoon Tokyo time. While Lizard Squad tweeted that it was responsible for the disruption, Mr Nakajima said it remained unclear who was behind the attack.

Sony said no personal information was stolen in the incident. Hackers orchestrated a so-called denial-of-service attack against Sony, which involved overwhelming the company's gaming network with fake visits so that legitimate users could not get through.

In 2011, hackers compromised the company's network - including the personal data of 77 million user accounts. Since then, the network's security has been upgraded, the company says.

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