Frustrating day for everyone involved
PokerStars was the victim of a Distributed Denial-of-Service (DDoS) attack on Sunday, forcing it to cancel a slew of tournaments, including all six Main Events of the 2022 World Championship of Online Poker (WCOOP). Sunday is normally the hottest day of week for online poker tournaments and with the WCOOP Main Events, it was shaping up to be one of the biggest Sundays of the entire year. Fortunately, the Main Events have been rescheduled for later this fall.
On the players’ end, the problems primarily manifested themselves as issues with the stability of the poker client software. When PokerStars made the decision to pause – and then eventually cancel — all tournaments that were currently in progress, the only word was that there were “technical issues.”
Buy-ins and fees were refunded and prizes awarded based on PokerStars’ cancellation policy; there are different arrangements depending on whether a tournament had yet to begin, had begun but hadn’t reach the money, or had already popped the money bubble.
Late Monday afternoon ET, the poker site confirmed publicly that the technical problems were, in fact, a result of a DDoS attack. In a DDoS attack, the culprit(s) floods the target’s system with communications requests. Stout security systems can normally deal with them, but the most vicious DDoS attacks overwhelm the system, interfering with legitimate connections by real users. Basically, it causes a gigantic traffic jam of bots, blocking the legit users from properly communicating with the servers.
Player funds are safe
PokerStars has assured everyone that this was not a hack and that everyone’s account information and funds are secure. They were not touched. It was just an attack to disrupt PokerStars on a big tournament day.
“We have a great track record of keeping our platform operational, however we know how frustrating it can be to experience this kind of disruption, especially during our WCOOP and Galactic series. We’d like to apologise to everyone affected and thank them for their patience,” wrote PokerStars on its blog.
PokerStars has reschedule the WCOOP Main Events for November 5. All other tournaments, cash games, and Sit-and-Go’s are already back up and running. Some WCOOP events were pushed back slightly today, but it seems that everything is on track once more.
DDoS attacks are a constant threat in the online poker world, as real-time, live services are dependent upon reliable, always-up connections. Just the slightest hiccup can negatively affect players. Several years ago, the Winning Poker Network (WPN) was routinely victimized by DDoS attacks and like PokerStars, the attacks beat the network’s security during its biggest and most important tournament days.