Over the weekend, several popular online gaming services were taken down by a group of hackers. The hackers, going by the moniker “Lizard Squad,” used a distributed denial-of-service attack to flood top gaming networks with a wave of illegitimate traffic. Luckily, it doesn’t look like any data was stolen during this attack—but it did interrupt the Sunday fun-day plans of many a gamer.
Distributed denial-of-service attacks (DDoS) and denial-of-service attacks (DoS) are not new hacker past times. In fact, TweetDeck was taken down by a DoS attack earlier this year, as were popular consumer apps Feedly and Evernote. DoS attacks work like this: hackers “flood” a chosen site with useless information, essentially forcing a shut down of their systems and denying access to legitimate users. It’s like too many people calling the same phone number at once, and receiving a busy signal.
This weekend, those choice networks included Battle.net, EVE Online, and League of Legends, among others.
The difference between a DoS and a DDoS is that a distributed attack is conducted by two or more people or machines. Oftentimes, a DDoS is the work of a botnet—a group of computers that have been infected by a malicious application (malware). It is unclear at this time if a botnet was responsible for Sunday’s attacks.
When you’re presented with a DDoS attack on a company’s website, there is not much that you can do. The burden of responsibility for stopping this attack will fall on the company who is being victimized. Despite this, being educated on and aware of these types of attacks will help prevent confusion should you be presented with a similar situation in the future.
Signs of a DDoS attack include a slow network, or “broken site.” If all other web pages load fine, and one is giving you a hard time, that website might be being targeted by hackers.