The two-fold year-on-year increase focused on gamers due to the perfect storm of lockdown measures.

In the third quarter of 2020, an increase in DDoS attacks by 287% year-on-year was detected by a cloud-based distributed denial of service (DDoS) security solutions provider. Amid this surge, 77% of cyberattacks targeted the online gaming and gambling industries.

More than a third of the attacks on entertainment focused on online gaming targets, whose sensitivity to latency and availability issues makes them ideal DDoS attack targets.

The increase is largely attributed to a significant rise in online gaming due to stay-at-home mandates and also the closure or restrictions on other entertainment venues such as cinemas and bars. Also, as gamers are emotionally engaged, socially active, and often spend disposable income on their gaming accounts, they have been attractive targets of cybercriminals.

Application Attack Source Distribution (IP Reputation)

Said Juniman Kasman, Chief Technology Officer of Nexusguard, the firm that discerned this trend in a Q3 DDoS threat report: “Online gaming is snowballing in part due to the growth of cloud computing as well as the limited options for home entertainment during the pandemic, providing cyber attackers with a wide population of targets to exploit. Game service providers, Communications Service Providers (CSPs) and other organizations should take steps to safeguard service, including segregating applications to minimize collateral damage; or rehearsing incident response to reduce service disruption during attacks.”

The threat report—analyzing attack data from botnet scanning, honeypots, CSPs and traffic moving between attackers and targets—helps organizations identify vulnerabilities and stay informed about global cybersecurity trends. It indicated that 99.5% of cyber-threats in Q3 2020 were large-scale attacks. The majority of these cases (99.4%) were single vector attacks where perpetrators occupy all bandwidth within a game server. In turn, this caused gamers to experience disruptions, resulting in their migration to alternative servers with faster and more stable connectivity.

The firm’s researchers warn sensitive detection and high-capacity mitigation alone are insufficient to overcome large DDoS attacks, and require a combination of technology, knowledge sharing and best security practices.