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February 17, 2023

DDoS Attacks in Gaming

Online gaming has become one of the most popular pastimes in the world. With an estimated 1 billion online gamers globally, hackers can essentially take their pick of targets. While many gamers probably don’t consider the implications of cybersecurity attacks, they’re a legitimate threat to players. To help gamers (and parents of gamers) understand the threat of a security breach on a computer or gaming console, let’s examine DDoS gaming attacks and how to protect devices.

A person playing video games on their laptop with an Xbox controller.

What does DDoS mean in gaming? Not everybody who plays video games knows how to lose with grace. Sometimes the reaction is little more than a rage quit, while others might resort to a DDoS attack. So, what does DDoS mean in gaming? Hackers can attack the server— where hundreds, perhaps thousands of gamers are playing—by sending an overwhelming amount of information to the server. This is to either distract the server’s antivirus software so the hacker can breach security protocols, or simply to ruin everyone’s day.

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What is DDoS in gaming, and what does it look like? Online gaming requires players to connect to a server located somewhere in the world. As we mentioned, hackers can break into that server and begin flooding it with information from a DDoS attack. For gamers, a DDoS attack can look like one of several scenarios. Maybe you get kicked off a server in the middle of a game because it’s overloaded. Maybe you can’t log on. You could also experience extreme lagging in your gameplay. While the player doesn’t always need to be as concerned about a DDoS attack as the company running the server—your PC could still be at risk.

By hacking into your computer and multiple others—hackers now have the ability to turn those computers into an army of bots—simultaneously sending multiple requests to their targeted gaming server, which unfortunately, may not flag them as malicious requests. If your computer is included as part of an attack, you’re at high risk of additional malware compromising your system.

“With an estimated 1 billion online gamers globally, hackers can essentially take their pick of targets.”

So, can my gaming console get hacked? Unfortunately, yes, your gaming console can get hacked. For example, an Xbox DDoS attack isn’t out of the realm of possibility if you’re using an unprotected internet connection. Not all servers will hide your IP address, and a hacker who really knows what they’re doing can find it, which will make you vulnerable to an attack. Be aware of gamers who use phrases like, “I’m going to IP boot you,” or, “I’m going to boot you offline.” You could be dealing with a hacker who’s getting ready to initiate an attack.

What do I do if my PC or console gets DDoS’d? A malware attack isn’t always an in-your-face attack that announces you’ve been breached. Instead, you’ll notice things like suddenly losing your internet connection or your system significantly slowing down. Anytime your device is hacked, the first thing you should do is shut it down and disconnect from the internet. With most devices, you’ll need to unplug from a hardwired connection, unplug your router, and turn off your Wi-Fi to ensure that you’re no longer using any internet connection. You should then reset your router, which will assign you a new IP address so the hacker doesn’t have access to your network. Finally, contact your internet provider. They can let you know if you have been attacked or if there’s an internet outage in your area.

After you’ve reset your router and reconnected to the internet, try to connect with the gaming company’s online support to let them know you were attacked. There’s a chance the company already knows there’s a hacker attacking gamers—but they can always use more information to protect their game servers.

A person playing video games on their laptop at a glass desk.

How can I protect myself from attacks? Antivirus software is always the best first line of defense against cyber attacks. Make sure you keep your antivirus up to date, so it can more readily recognize threats, and take action to protect your system. Another way you can protect yourself from a DDoS attack in gaming is to be aware of the servers on which you play games. Third-party servers like Minecraft are often at risk (and have been attacked before), so it’s essential that you keep your games and supporting software up to date with patches and adjust security settings to limit who you can interact with.

Playing games online can put your system and network at risk of DDoS gaming attacks, whether you’re a console gamer or prefer a PC. Play safe by playing smart and using best practices to avoid unknown game servers and shady characters. Parents and kids can work together to ensure that gamers aren’t compromising their home computer network.

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