If you’ve had trouble logging in or staying connected to an online poker site recently, chances are hackers are to blame. Unlike some cases, where the culprits are attempting to obtain sensitive information, the attacks on European online poker rooms like Betfair Poker seem to be of the DDOS nature, otherwise known as “Distributed Denial of Service”.
[See ‘Nature of DDOS Attacks’ below for more information]
Betfair Poker only Operator to Confirm DDOS Attack
Although numerous poker sites were similarly affected, including PokerStars, only Betfair Poker has come forward to confirm the cause of connectivity issues as being related to DDOS attacks. The problems seemed to start over the weekend, with Betfair’s server being offline for the majority of Monday, April 13. However, as of today (April 14), there have been no reported issues logging in or maintaining a connection to Betfair Poker.
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Customer support representatives for the online poker room confirmed the DDOS attack on Twitter via @BetfairHelpdesk yesterday. “We’re currently experiencing a DDOS attack on our site,” read the tweet. “We’re working to fix this as quickly as possible.”
DDOS attacks were the suspected cause of interruption of Pokerfest events on partypoker in October of 2014. Reports of similar disconnections also came in from members of 888Poker around that time. Both partypoker and 888Poker have servers based out of Gibraltar, but 888 refused to comment on the issue and its suspected DDOS nature.
PokerStars neither Confirms or Denies DDOS Attacks
PokerStars began experiencing connectivity issues as early as April 9 across all of its regional websites, as was corroborated by a throng of social media and forum posts from members worldwide. Most complained of extreme lag in the system, while others experienced difficulty logging in or frequent disconnections. However, the management team has neither confirmed nor denied that a DDOS attack was to blame.
The most effected region seems to be Belgium, where members reported PokerStars.be to be completely offline on April 12. That same day, @PokerStarsBE tweeted, “We are working hard to resolve all network issues, however .be has been severely affected, we recommend not registering for new games.”
Nature of DDOS Attacks
It’s no surprise that online poker operators would fear admitting to a DDOS attack. Those who aren’t familiar with the term and the hackers’ intent could easily become frightened at the prospect of sensitive personal and financial information being stolen. However, a DDOS attack is not intended to pilfer such data.
The purpose of a DDOS attack is to knock the server offline, and that’s exactly what occurred at European poker sites like Betfair Poker and PokerStars over the weekend. The simplified definition of a DDOS Attack on Dictionary.com describes it as, “a method of attacking a computer system by flooding it with so many messages that it is obliged to shut down”.
It should be clearly specified that online poker rooms like Betfair Poker, PokerStars, partypoker and 888Poker have extremely secure systems in place to ensure the protection of their members’ sensitive information.
Today’s encryption technologies are highly complex, so much so that even the senior managerial teams at these online poker operations are unable to access a player’s password or penetrate their accounts. Suffice to say, a DDOS attack is no threat to a player, outside of suspending their ability to take part in the games.