With the daily fantasy eSports (DFeS) industry in its infancy, operators are forced to deal with a host of unforeseen challenges. One of those issues involves distributed denial-of-service attacks (DDoS), a tactic which can be used to slow a player’s computer to a crawl, placing him at a disadvantage during gaming competitions.
Such an attack was reportedly used to disrupt teams competing in Major League Gaming’s (MLG) recent Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare event, leading the organization to refund players and start again fresh. The issue has also forced eSports DFS site Vulcun to cancel all contests based on the league and reimburse players of its own.
“We have reached an agreement with MLG to put all contests on an indefinite hiatus, Vulcun said in a statement. “We are working with MLG to combat the issues pro players have been experiencing while in-game.”
How DDoS attacks work
DDoS attacks do their damage by flooding a website (or IP address) with more traffic than it can handle. They have long been used to disable websites and are employed for a variety of nefarious purposes. The online gaming industry, for example, has been hit hard by such attacks. It’s not uncommon for perpetrators to strike during major sporting events – like the Super Bowl – rendering the site unusable and unable to collect bets. Attackers frequently demand a ransom – usually paid in Bitcoin – in exchange for easing up the digital onslaught.
Attackers prove persistent
On July 24 MLG postponed matches and tried to educate players on how they could protect themselves from intrusions. For instance, using the chat application Skype, perpetrators can rather easily sniff out their target’s IP address. Yet even after discontinuing the application, players were still hit with attacks.
This isn’t the first time that eSports competitors have had to deal with the DDoS issues. OpTic Gaming’s Ian “Crimsix” Porter, a frequent target of hackers, told the DailyDot that his team is so troubled by the attacks that it is considering pulling out of the league altogether.
Vulcun not vigilant enough?
In a thread on Reddit, Vulcun’s VP of Business Development Edward Chang chimed in to answer questions about the incident. One poster relayed the popular sentiment amongst professional players that the DFS site is not doing enough to block suspicious bettors who might have gained an advantage through DDoS attacks.
“As you can imagine with all of the contests and leagues we support, we have a lot of data,” said Chang. “We’re constantly revisiting and analyzing this data. If there were anything that made us think that there was some unfair advantage going on we have no problem canceling and refunding leagues.”
The MLG is set to restart the competition with a round-robin schedule in which the 12 teams will play one another once. With so much money on the line in cash prizes and potential DFeS advantage play, however, it’s clear that DFS operators will have their hands full with DDoS attacks for the foreseeable future.