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The past two weeks have been a turbulent time and not just because of #GamerGate. Things were pretty much at a boiling point for a lot of gamers when Xbox Live, PlayStation Network and Battle.net all went down over the weekend of August 24th. The attacks left a lot of gamers questioning what was going on and why? Well, one company posted up an interesting blog that explains how DDoS attacks work and why they sometimes occur.
The name of the site is Xsolla, and they're an intermediary for providing publishers with currency services through digitally distributed games. Having ties and knowledge of DDoS attacks would likely make sense given that if a publisher's service goes down, they're going to lose money during that downtime. Understanding how to safeguard and prevent the attacks from occurring or how to recover quickly from them is probably an essential virtue necessary for the success for that kind of business.
According to Xsolla's Josh Bycer...
“In the past, DDOS attacks were mainly used against major corporations like credit card companies or banks, but we are now seeing an increase in these situations within the Game Industry.
DDoS or DoS attacks are comprised of two distinct groups. DDoS or DoS means denial of service, and they're carried out by having bots send inordinate amounts of information to the target server in order to overwhelm and shut it down. DoS attacks are carried out by a single individual where-as DDoS attacks are carried out by an established and dedicated group using multiple sources of attack.
Over the years these DDoS attacks have become more prominent, leading to events like the recent blackout of gaming services on August 24th. However, that attack was the first in which the hackers also actively attempted to make bomb threats, too, getting the FBI involved.
As noted in the blog...
“Because the Game Industry is made up of tech savvy fans, members have a greater chance of having the knowhow and resources to pull off these attacks on companies that they don't like. While Battle.Net was attacked this past week, so were EA's Origin service and Sony's Playstation Network.
Sadly, there isn't a whole lot of hope offered from the post, noting that as of right now it's just not financially viable for small publishers to afford the protection necessary to keep from falling to DDoS attacks, and there's nothing bigger sites can do when they come under heavy fire from select groups.
They do, however, mention that...
“For the developers reading this, there isn't much that you can do to avoid being part of a DDOS attack. If you are making use of a third party site or network to host and sell your game, find out if they do provide adequate DDOS attack security. And for the consumers, make sure you have some form of antivirus and firewall security on your computer, and contact your ISP to ask if they have DDOS protection.”
That sure beats doing nothing, I suppose.
It's not likely that DDoS attacks against your favorite gaming service will end or that there is a 100% surefire way to keep them from occurring. The most gamers can do is just enjoy the games and hope that their favorite service provider isn't regularly attacked... especially during maintenance periods.