February 20, 2008
Resurgence of criminal activity warning
The spectre of DDOS (Distributed Denial of Service) assaults again
occupied the minds of IT and security officials at online gambling sites
this week as reports surfaced of attacks on major online poker websites.
The online poker information portal Poker-king.com advised that many
online poker and casino properties have suffered outages, naming Full
Tilt Poker as probably the most visible with an inaccessible website for
as long as 48 hours, probably incurring serious losses in business. As
of 5 am EST Tuesday, the website is redirecting to
www2.fulltiltpoker.com as a consequence of the attacks.
Online businesses are typically circumspect when attacked as they
marshall internal and outside resources to combat the problems.
Malicious DDOS attacks are frequently accompanied by extortionate and
criminal demands for money to halt the offensive, and are therefore of
interest to international enforcement agencies who collaborate
extensively in tracking down the offenders.
A DDOS attack usually involves the criminals harnessing thousands of
bots planted on previously infected PCs to bombard the target site with
so much data that it cannot cope and is rendered unserviceable. Bot
mercenary "armies" can number in the tens of thousands and mainly
consist of computers owned by ordinary people who do not even know their
equipment has been temporarily hijacked in this manner.
A whole anti-DDOS protective industry has grown up as a result of
numerous past attacks, deploying sophisticated and powerful defence
systems to shield clients and absorb the barrage of data.
The Shadow Server.org organisation reported that a wave of attacks on
Internet gambling sites commenced on February 10th and continued through
to February 18th. Among the targets were Full Tilt Poker, Party Casino,
Titan Poker, Virgin Games, CD Poker and Europa Casino. In addition, a
number of Russian online gambling sites were targeted, including
The extent of the outages for each site varied depending on the ferocity
of the attacks and if they had any anti-DDoS attack measures in place.
Full Tilt Poker is clearly still having issues while a number of the
Russian web properties are still down. There have been reports that Full
Tilt's poker room has crashed numerous times over the past few days,
including an embarrassing outage during the final table of the FTOPS
The motive behind the attacks is still unknown. Was there an extortion
attempt made? Will there be an extortion attempt made? Or is there some
other reason behind the attacks?
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