I-Gaming Companies Targeted by Cyber Extortionists

Imaging that you’re playing on your favorite internet bingo site and all of a sudden the game speed slows to a crawl of you are denied entrance to the site. Chances are that your favorite internet bingo sites have been the victim of a Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack. The internet is a wonderful thing but unfortunately there are those that exploit its vulnerabilities for financial game. In the case of DDoS attacks against gaming sites the motive is extortion. Hackers make money from internet gaming sites by threatening to take down their websites. The threat is very real and according to a recent news report one UK bookmaker paid £20,000 to online extortionists.

Cyber extortion is becoming common not only in the gaming sector but in other e-commerce sectors as well. Hackers usually target businesses that would be severely damaged by downtime and reputational damage. For internet gaming operators downtime of any kind can have severe ramifications. Player loyalty can be fleeting and if games are not available for an extended period of time players are likely to go somewhere else to spend their money. A recent survey of 100 UK businesses showed that 47% of IT managers at large companies had experienced a DDoS attack during the past year. In every case the motive for the attack was extortion.

Internet gaming is a rapidly growing market and is highly competitive. DDoS attacks can easily drive players to other sites since tolerance for extended downtime is low among internet gamblers. Ransom demands commonly amount to tens of thousands of pounds and experts say most of the attacks originate in Eastern Europe. Many DDoS attacks have been successful and lucrative for cyber extortionists. Some gaming organizations look at ransom demands as a cost of doing business. For companies that pay the ransom there is no guarantee they will not be targeted again. In fact paying the ransom may make them even more vulnerable to further DDoS attacks.

Over the years cyber criminals have become more sophisticated and IT departments can be hard pressed to keep up with the latest hacker technologies and tactics. Many gaming companies employ specialists whose only job is to ward off attackers. Many companies depend on firewalls to keep them safe but some older firewalls were not designed to ward off these types of attacks. Security companies have their hands full trying to protect businesses from hackers and in most cases they are successful. Security experts recommend that gaming companies use the latest security tools at their disposal.