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DDOS: Distributed Denial of Santa

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After the Christmas DDOS attacks, is a Mega solution even enough?

2014 was a very troubling year for a number of reasons, but one of the main lessons we learnt was the fragility of online information. The iCloud hacks that saw revealing pictures of certain actresses, singers and public figures released to the web, North Korea’s attempted suppression of The Interview via cyber-attacks on Sony; the internet was once again put in the spotlight for all the wrong reasons. So it was almost fitting that the year closed out with another hacking scandal. Almost.

DDOS 3
Mr Kim Dotcom, the owner of Mega and founder of Megaupload.

The attacks on servers for the PSN and Xbox Live services over the Christmas period was performed by a group calling themselves Lizard Squad, who rather pompously and erroneously claimed that the attack was to promote internet security. Yet the attacks were only stopped, according to several hacking focused web shows and newspapers, when a private individual, Mr Kim Dotcom (the owner of Mega.co.nz), offered them gift vouchers for his network in exchange for a ceasefire.

As a result, gamers were finally able to play the online portions of their brand new video games, and the people rejoiced…

Or not. Because what happened was a private individual was forced to buy off a group of criminals in order to stop an unjustified attack.

DDOS, the method of choice for Lizard Squad, does not allow access to the server; it merely shuts it down. There’s no risk of data transfer or password access, it’s simply designed to make a service go down. So the idea that this attack was some kind of consumer justice is delusional at best, and dangerous at worst. Lizard Squad performed this attack to satisfy its own egomania, and possibly because it likes the idea of hundreds of crying children around the world.

As the problem only ended when someone paid them off, it hardly discourages this behaviour from continuing, or indeed, getting to the point where peoples data is at risk. Mr Dotcom’s intentions were probably noble, and I respect that, but he may have just funded what some are calling “cyber terrorists”. In the long run, that can only mean problems for the gaming industry and the people truly affected by these attacks, the gamers.

 

Alex Davies 

 

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