Over the last few years, video games that would once have been played locally on consoles or PCs have quickly moved online. When a game starts to become popular — usually in the first few weeks and months following its launch — the servers where it is hosted can be greatly stressed, creating a massive spike in web traffic. That’s why high availability for those running online games is needed around the clock, 24/7, all year long.
On the flip side, that same need for high availability and traffic spikes means video game companies can make a particularly attractive target for perpetrators of distributed denial of service attacks (DDoS).
Part of the problem is that it is virtually impossible to know whether a connection attempt is coming from a hacker or a player. Fear of blocking access to legitimate users (so-called “false positives”), mean the video game companies may let their guard down, allowing attackers easier entry into their servers. It’s also easy for hackers to predict when peak periods occur, since the creators of online games are often announcing the release of their forthcoming titles in advance.
In these already difficult circumstances, perpetrators of DDoS attacks are not limited to hacktivists and hackers seeking notoriety. It may be competitors and also — given that video games sometimes generate strong emotions — frustrated players of one kind or another.
Shielding is required
Firewalls and intrusion prevention systems are not enough to be well protected. Video game creators must use a complete solution including proactive protection, such as APS from Arbor Networks. With minimal human intervention, this type of solution features real-time monitoring capabilities to prevent and automatically detect DDoS attacks before any damage is done.
When the technology identifies slow server performance, which is the first indication of a potential attack, companies can detect on-the-spot anomalies that could indicate a denial of service attack. Ideally, security strategies in this case should also include a backup plan in case it becomes difficulty to detect and mitigate threats quickly.
Given the way of DDoS attacks are increasing in scale and sophistication today and the extent of damage they can cause, the gaming industry has no other choice but to equip themselves appropriately. Otherwise, it could be game over.