Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) Attacks and Online Gaming

ddos-attacks-online-gamingAnyone who has owned a computer or watched the evening news is probably familiar with hackers and the damage they can cause to almost every aspect of online activity. Hackers have been around since the internet was created some 20 years ago, with most seeming to have malicious intent while others just do it for the thrill of doing something against the law.

The past 15 years or so has seen a new type of attack, and it can have some rather scary results. Distributed Denial of Service attacks, more commonly known as DDoS attacks, are gaining popularity among both independent rogue hackers, and those paid by people to take down specific websites.

A DDoS attack occurs when a certain website is flooded with thousands of “bots,” or groups of computers that carry out hacking activities. This wave of users attempting to enter a website all at once can easily overwhelm a server’s capacity and even go around its security protocols. These attacks can crash a website, slow the loading time of sites to a crawl and even create complete outages. This in turn greatly affects the company’s website (and ultimately, its usefulness) and can cause loss of revenue if the site provides any online sale.

While these attacks have targeted large websites and companies for a while, recently the attacks have moved onto targeting financial institutions, including credit card companies such as Visa and MasterCard, and even online currency sites such as PayPal Inc. Motives of these attacks range anywhere from revenge, often from rival companies or dissatisfied customers, to blackmailing people or even politicians who have sensitive material stored online, to targeting the everyday consumer who uses their credit cards to shop online.

Websites offer a wide variety of safety protocols, including firewalls, which block simple attacks and act as a first line of defense. They work by denying incoming traffic from known attackers to routers which have rate limiting capabilities. This can reduce the effect of the heavy traffic associated with DDoS attacks. The downfall to most routers is that they have a manual aspect to them, so any websites suspected of hacking have to be blocked manually.

More well-known companies have more complex security on servers located nearby which offer many different levels of security. All of these security features are always being tested, and the technology behind these DDoS attacks and security features are always evolving and getting more complex.

HackerOften referred to as “Cyber-Warriors,” online hackers involved in DDoS attacks are growing at an incredible rate and are now forming groups, the most well-known of which call themselves Anonymous. Anonymous has become a shadowy figure in the public spotlight, known for attacking various websites to expose corruption and secret emails, but also even doing so just to see people scramble to fix the hacks as fast as possible.

The most notable recent DDoS attack came in late 2014 during the holiday season, shortly before Christmas day. A group of hackers launched a massive attack on Microsoft and Sony, which crashed their online gaming networks for nearly a week.
DDos attacks are always on the rise, and their potential to attack a 40 billion dollar a year industry has many worried that it could happen to them, with websites scrambling stay ahead of the attackers. This new target is the world of online gambling.

With hackers turning their attention to the lucrative online gambling market, websites all over the United States are bolstering their online protection security measures just to keep up with the recent influx of the volume of attacks.

According to the website Betanews.com, 9 out of 20 online gambling sites have been targeted by DdoS attacks within the past ten months. Around 10 percent of these websites were attacked last week, and about 50 percent originated from rival websites. The fact that the increase of attacks is becoming way more frequent and the notion of the attacks coming from rival sites is just one of many indicators that the 40 billion dollar market is become more and more fierce by the month.

Other noteworthy statistics: 75 percent of online gambling websites are attacked several times weekly, and most of the attacks come from foreign countries, mainly from the Southeast Asia region. China represents around 13 percent of attacks and Vietnam represents around 10 percent. The purpose of these attacks is most likely for monetary gains and personal information theft. Surprisingly, around 9 percent of these attacks come from the United States of America.

anonymouswearelegion-5193153This brings us back to rival companies attacking one another with “bot” websites being hired to steal information and slow down a website to a crawl. When an online gambling website is attacked from a DdoS, a number of negative things can occur, the first and most notable thing being a loss of revenue. When a site’s speed is reduced, the number of player bets goes down with it. This can also result in loss of trust from many customers who think they are in a safe and secure site and even lead to players going to rival or other websites to continue gambling.

These reasons alone are why security has to be constantly ramped up for almost every gambling website on the web. Staying ahead of the game will not only minimize profit loss, but it will also lead to more customers spreading positive reviews, ensuring customers keep coming back over time.

The fact is this – any online activity comes with its risks, whether that’s identity theft or loss of money due to hacking attacks. Online gambling sites are doing their best to keep up, outsmart the people who want to do harm, and to keep people coming back to keep the money flowing in. It’s a rather cut-throat business, and security will always be number one in the eyes of the online casinos.