Bomb Threat Diverts American Airlines Flight

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 “@AmericanAir We have been receiving reports that @j_smedley’s plane #362 from DFW to SAN has explosives on-board, please look into this,” read a tweet that prematurely landed an American Airlines flight on August 24.

original tweet

The flight, scheduled to arrive in San Diego from Dallas, landed safely in Phoenix soon after the tweet. Passengers waited four hours for FBI agents to scan every inch of the plane. When all was clear, all 179 passengers and six crew members were once again boarded and arrived at their destination safely.

Who is @j_smedley? John Smedley is the President of Sony Online Entertainment and the apparent target of the online threat. At the same time of the threat, Sony Corp’s PlayStation Network was fighting off a cyber-attack.

The threatening tweet was issued by @LizardSquad, the well-known hacker collective. The account continuously tweeted numerous accusations and bizarre statements to Smedley and their followers. Tweets accused Smedley of involvement with the breakaway group of al Qaeda, ISIS, and a photo of the American Airlines altered schedule. One tweet directed at Smedley contained a video of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, while others simply stated #PrayForFlight362.

tweet 3

The Twitter account ultimately took credit for the cyber-attack. But the question is, why did the attack happen in the first place? According to Reuters, @LizardSquad “said it was meant to pressure Sony to invest more in the network.” A tweet read: “Sony, yet another large company, but they aren’t spending the waves of cash they obtain on their customers’ (Play Station Network) service. End the greed.”


tweet 2

According to Sony, no personal information was stolen during the attack. “We have seen no evidence of any intrusion to the network and no evidence of any unauthorized access to users’ personal information.”

This comes as good news after the 2011 network attack

But what does this mean for your home and work consoles? Are they safe and secure?

As stated on the support page of PlayStation, Sony Computer Entertainment America (SCEA) will never approach online users via chat or email for passwords or personal information. Guaranteed spots in upcoming betas or other promotions are not offered in exchange for personal information. If you (or your children) are approached by users asking for this information, report them. Users asking for that information are not authorized by SCEA to do so and must be reported.

Protecting your information

  • As a reminder to our seasoned gamers, and to inform new users, we offer these guidelines for safe gaming that will help keep your account private and secure
  • NEVER share your account details with anyone, especially online (in-game, via chat, or email).
  • Select a strong password to protect your account (include letters, numbers, and symbol characters if possible)
  • Make sure that the answer to your “secret question” is not something that could be guessed easily
  • Be sure to log off from your account anytime you use a PlayStation® product that is not yours, or anytime other people might use your PlayStation product

Hacked accounts

If you suspect that someone has gained access to your account or inappropriate activities are taking place:

  • Change your password
  • If you can, try to change your password immediately. Also check your personal information to see if any changes have been made.
  • Create new email account to be used strictly for PlayStation use.
  • Get in contact with Sony Consumer Services department at the number below so help can be provided as quickly as possible.
    • Phone Number:1-800-345-SONY (7669)

 Additional precautions

  • Buy a pre-paid PlayStation Network Card to use at the store and delete existing credit card information in the store.
  • Monitor credit card and debit card history associated with your PlayStation Network account.


Aside from threats of hacks and successful DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) attacks, the protocol followed to assure the safety of Sony’s CEO was exemplary. Whether the tweet was a hoax or not, the response taken was justified. The actions by American Airlines considered the safety of not just the CEO, but all 179 passengers and crew aboard the flight.


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