DDoS Attacks: Are Gamers Really in Danger?

DDoS Attacks: Are Gamers Really in Danger?
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You may hear of DDoS attacks often, but what exactly are they? And why are gamers common targets?

A Nexusguard Research report found that 77% of Q3 2020 cyber-attacks targeted the online gaming and gambling industries. More than a third of these attacks targeted online gaming platforms. Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks are the main culprits.

Let’s take a closer look at this pain point for the gaming world and see how you can stay safe.

How DDoS Attacks Work

DDoS attacks overwhelm networks or a specific IP address with junk traffic. As a result, the targeted site or platform experiences lag, poor performance, and may even crash. These technical woes cause gamers some serious frustration. Plus, downtime can cost a gaming platform thousands of dollars per hour.

DDoS attackers typically rely on a group of malware-infected devices to generate enough malicious traffic. Known as a DDoS botnet, this network of devices doesn’t have to be the property of the cyber attackers. These devices can simply be hijacked computers running malicious code that launches DDoS attacks in the background. Any unprotected computer or mobile device can be vulnerable.

DDoS attacks can be especially unpleasant for gamers. Ever missed a headshot or got defeated in a PvP duel because of lag? Then you know exactly what we’re talking about. It’s even worse when a DDoS attack can boot you offline in the middle of a game—without any warning.

What Makes Gamers Susceptible to DDoS Attacks?

Gamers are valuable targets for cyber attackers for several reasons. Let’s sum them up.

High spec gaming rigs provide valuable resources to cryptocurrency miners

Mining cryptocurrencies is a resource-intensive process. Malicious miners need every gigahertz of GPU and gigabyte of RAM they can get their hands on. And they know that gamers have them.

Competition can get envious

The fact that rival gamers can buy DDoS attacks as a service doesn’t make the gaming world any safer. Streamers and popular gamers can be particularly at risk. After all, rivals may want to gain a competitive advantage by affecting a player’s gaming experience.

The worst part is that DDoS as a service is becoming increasingly affordable, with prices as low as $10. In other words, attackers can rent DDoS attacks without any specialized knowledge. Back in 2020, game developer Ubisoft sued websites offering paid DDoS services against Rainbow Six Siege servers. That’s how big the problem is.

Supply chain attacks

Even when they have no bone to pick with gamers, cybercriminals may still target them. This can happen when attackers target the gaming community to disguise other attacks.

Supply chain attacks target weaker links in the supply chain, such as a smaller game developer. But their real aim is to weaken or damage the reputation of a cloud service provider or parent company.

Greater bandwidth and Internet-of-Things (IoT) devices

In the last decade, home bandwidth has jumped from a few megabits to hundreds. Gamers are more likely to invest in high bandwidth connections because, hey, who wants lag while fragging?

And since they’re often also into tech, gamers also embrace IoT devices. The downside is that each unprotected device can become a vulnerable link in the chain. Attackers may exploit it to hijack a lot of traffic.

Visible IP addresses

DDoS attacks may also target individual IP addresses. When this happens, attackers go after specific gamers rather than gaming platforms. Gaming platforms work hard to mask IP addresses, but hackers can still figure these out. Game communication apps, chatting apps, guild websites, and sites offering mods and patches may all disclose IP addresses.

How to Protect Your Winning Streak Against DDoS Attacks

Being susceptible to DDoS attacks doesn’t have to mean being vulnerable to them. As a gamer, you can protect yourself against DDoS attacks and other types of malicious attacks. Often, it all starts with a PC or Xbox VPN.

Secure gaming platforms hide your IP address. But if you play on private servers, local networks, or download mods and patches, you may be at risk. Third-party communication apps may also disclose your IP address.

Having a fixed IP address only increases the risk. Even if your gaming platform hides it, other sites or services you use may leak it.

How to Protect Your Winning Streak Against DDoS Attacks

So, what can you do about it?

  • Keep your home network up to date. If you’re using old hardware and software, discuss an upgrade with your ISP. Old hardware and software may have security holes that make you more susceptible to DDoS attacks.
  • Use up-to-date security software. When you’re not gaming on your Xbox, keep your other devices protected. Attackers may hijack any devices connected to your home network and use them as resources for attacks.
  • Be careful what team communication apps you use. You don’t want them to leak your IP address.
  • Avoid joining private servers and using sites offering cheats and tweaks. DDoS-causing malware often lurks there.
  • Use an Xbox VPN to always hide your IP address. A virtual private network will route your traffic to its servers first, filtering it from malicious attacks. Other gamers won’t be able to see your true IP address. They won’t be able to target you directly. More than protecting you from direct attacks, it can make it harder for malware to get to your computer.
  • Choose a VPN made for gamers to boost your online security without slowing it down. With the right Xbox VPN, you shouldn’t experience high latency. You’ll be able to game on safely (https://nordvpn.com/download/xbox/).

The Wrap Up

DDoS attacks are a constant threat for gamers. But there’s a lot you can do to protect yourself against them. While your favorite gaming platforms continue to improve their security, you don’t want to neglect yours. Follow all the security tips we shared with you and try a VPN if you already don’t have one. Prevention is the best defense.

Thank you for reading!