Denial of Service Attacks (DDoS) and their impact on Starcraft 2

By now everyone has at least heard about the constant Denial of Service Attacks (DDoS) and their impact on StarCraft 2. The question arises not only why individuals perform these actions but also how pro players are dealing with this.

Lee “Jaedong” Jae Dong was already a very successful Brood War player and when he switched to Starcraft 2 in 2011 like a lot of the other Vespa players, he hoped for more success here. However, The Tyrant has this well-known fate of always placing 2nd in tournaments. Similar to MKP it seemed that Jaedong would never win another premier tournament again. After his defeat in the BlizzCon finals of 2013 where he lost 1-4 against sOs, almost everyone agreed on that fact. Yet Jaedong fought back and in the Asus ROG 2013 he was successful for the first time in beating Acer Scarlett 4-2 in a ZvZ finals.

Yet this tournament was not only interesting as it brought back success to Jaedong but because the viewers and the players had to endure long breaks throughout the tournament. In a game between Elfi and Jaedong the games were on hold for more than one hour. These DDoS attacks interfered with the tournament and the impact they had was easily recognized. As Starcraft 2 does depend on it’s viewers like many eSports games, these attacks scared viewers away in the most efficient manner.

jaedong

“In order not to be distracted, I keep thinking about different aspects of the game” – Jaedong

The above captioned statement from Jaedong was taken from one of the interviews that he gave after his win in the Asus ROG 2013. That is of course easier said than done since a lot of players do get frustrated when their game is interrupted by these actions. Especially the players who stream StarCraft 2, as many rely on their viewers and fear these kind of attacks. Streamers such as mYinsanity’s “QueenE” that rely heavily on their viewers, such an attack does not only interfere with the viewer experience but it also takes possible income away.

“It is a major difference if a premier tournament such as Dreamhack has downtime due to DDoS. The viewers will come back for the games but for me as a streamer this can really hurt as I invest so much time and effort in my stream.” – QueenE

 

Definition

A distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack is one in which a multitude of compromised systems attack a single target, thereby causing denial of service for users of the targeted system. The flood of incoming messages to the target system essentially forces it to shut down, thereby denying service to the system to legitimate users.

 

Ongoing Issue

Starcraft 2 is by no means the only game that is suffering from these attacks. When Blizzard launched its latest expansion for the seasoned MMO World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor in November 2014, players were unable to play the game for weeks.

While it is known that many previous launches were rocky in the past, players suspected something more behind these technical issues. On November 14th Blizzard published an official statement which acknowledged these problems and they promised to take care of these things. The problem however is that one simply can’t prevent these kind of attacks.  Other companies such as Sony, Riot Games and many more have been the target as well.

On the 6th of June, Heroes of the Storm and Starcraft 2 players were unable to queue up for multiplayer games and only received the following message: “No games sites were available to start a game. Please try again later”

It is rather unclear if these server problems had anything to do with the ongoing DDoS issue and Blizzard has not yet released a statement about the last server problem.

ddos

One can see in the graphic above how wide spread the attack on Blizzard has been

 

Origin of DDoS attacks

Back in 2011 the well known Starcraft 2 streamer Steven “Destiny” Bonnell had also been the target for a DDoS attack. In this case a teenager who had been following his stream had decided to take Destiny’s internet down for good. Destiny later took the time to summarize the whole event for the viewers in his YouTube channel.

Events like these show how easy it is for an individual to be a target and on the other hand how little knowledge is actually required to make such an attack. Since all the tools are readily available on the internet, everyone could potentially use this kind of harass technique. Yet all things considered these incidents should not frighten the individual streamer nor any large group. With the big attack in August 2014, it was shown that networks can be attacked yet the individual teams of the companies are now aware of this mechanism and it will become harder and harder to inflict as much damage.

The dedicated Starcraft 2 players around the globe should also not fear these attacks. The moment we all surrender to these kind of people and give up our passion, we might just turn off the PC for good. Yet in the recent past the number of attacks on streamers have been reduced as the effort to actually harassing and taking down ones internet connection is not as easy as it sounds. So we should all put that chapter in the back of our minds and mark DDoS as the annoying little pranks they are.

 

 


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