Distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks are growing increasingly common across all industries, leaving many businesses scrambling for solutions to get back online fast.
The gaming industry is not foreign to DDoS attacks. It was among the first industries targeted by DDoS when this attack method became common, back in the days when no protection solution existed to fend off such attacks.
Now, the gaming industry finds itself as an increasingly targeted sector, which has quickly become an ideal target for DDoS attacks. This is mainly, because of the wide media exposure, downing gaming platforms generates within the entertainment and gaming worlds, and outside of it.
As more games rely on online connectivity and the availability of online resources, the exposure of gaming platforms grows, and with it, the vulnerabilities attackers can exploit. Currently, only once a vulnerability is exploited by an attacker to launch a damaging DDoS attack, the victim’s technical teams will scramble to fix the vulnerability in their DDoS protection system, in a reactive manner.
Waiting for the next vulnerability to be exploited
The damages from a successful DDoS attack against a gaming platform are substantial, regardless of the type of gaming involved, and may include:
- Direct loss of income from microtransaction (hardcore and casual gamers)
- Immediate loss of player loyalty (Casual gamers and gambling)
- Subscription canceling (hardcore and casual gamers)
- Loss of reputation and ability to acquire new players.
When a gaming platform goes down, gaming companies may lose millions in revenue, in addition to damaging their reputation within the gaming industry. Reputation loss in the gaming world can be swift and cruel, as former loyal gamers may turn toxic and brutal on gaming forums and public discord servers, while casual gamers will find new outlets to play very quickly.
To defend against DDoS attacks and ensure players remain online, cybersecurity and IT teams must implement proper visibility tools into their networks and servers to continuously scan for vulnerabilities and close gaps in protection.
Why do DDoS Attacks Happen?
There are several factors that lure threat actors to attack the gaming industry, including disgruntled gamers and extortion. In recent years, attackers are turning to DDoS as a method to disrupt online gaming – especially those that manage widely popular games, offer sponsorships, or host tournaments with grand prizes.
Additionally, DDoS attacks for hire have become more accessible, which involves hiring professional cybercriminals to conduct attacks. This has proved convenient for unsatisfied gamers, who can quickly shut down platforms, causing disruptions for other players and an organization overall.
Carrying out a successful DDoS attack, whether independently or by hiring a third-party actor, is enticing for criminals for several reasons, such as monetary gain. In the gaming industry, extortion is an easy way to monetize attacks. DDoS attackers can estimate how much a minute of downtime will cost a company in revenue and collateral damages.
Armed with that knowledge, cybercriminals demand ransom prior to launching attacks, giving gaming companies an “out” for a hefty price. When using DDoS for extortion, attackers will often demonstrate their capabilities with a small-scale attack to first prove the threat is credible.
With an understanding of the motivation for these crippling attacks, organizations should look to shore up their defenses and have a strategy in place to stay protected. Yet despite organizations having the most highly regarded DDoS protection tools in place, those that don’t consistently scrutinize every vulnerability in their networks or servers leave the door open for DDoS threat actors.
Visibility Tools are Critical to Staying Online
Once a threat is received, it’s critical for security teams to have an action plan and the right visibility tools already in place to identify and remediate vulnerabilities across all online services as they race to prevent any further damage.
While most security leaders believe implementing a tier-one DDoS protection solution keeps them safe, successful attackers can exploit vulnerabilities in previously deployed protection measures. To be fully protected, online gaming companies must implement network visibility tools to scan, monitor and identify vulnerabilities in their deployed solutions.
Having full visibility allows the security and network teams to mitigate and decrease vulnerabilities, and with that, reduce and eliminate successful DDoS attacks. Utilizing DDoS protection tools in conjunction with trusted visibility solutions provides the only solid defense against potential threats while speeding up the remediation process and minimizing damaging downtime.
The gaming industry has become a prime target for DDoS attacks given the extensive online environment and enticing factors that attract cybercriminals. To ensure players remain online and protect against growing threats, visibility tools must be a top priority for gaming companies to enhance their awareness of the increasing exposure.
After all, if vulnerabilities aren’t identified, it’s impossible to fix them.