Look, I won’t begin to pretend to know how to properly secure an online poker site. I used to be an IT consultant, but that was ages ago and I was not involved at all in network security. So far be it for me to criticize, but man, these Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks on internet poker sites are getting tiresome. And I’m just reporting on them – I can’t imagine the frustration that the players and site management are going through. This weekend, Winamax got hit once again after being victimized in August.
And Winamax isn’t alone, as DDoS attacks have been quite frequent lately. Last month, partypoker, PokerStars, and the Winning Poker Network were all victimized. Daily fantasy sports leader DraftKings was, as well.
The main goal of the DDoS attacks is to disrupt the sites. They basically cause a communications traffic jam, grinding everything to a halt. Think of a busy intersection of two streets. Normally, the traffic lights are green in one direction, red in the other, then they switch and everything goes smoothly. But now imagine all of the lights turning green at once. And staying like that. Everyone ends up in the intersection; some cars crash into each other, others are jackknifed, some slowly snake through, but mostly things come to a standstill.
Eventually a police officer comes and shuts down the entire intersection and now people need to take another way home.
From an online poker standpoint, a DDoS attack causes players to be disconnected, players who aren’t logged in to have trouble connecting, table freezes, game lag, and more. It just makes for a miserable poker experience, if there is even an experience to be had at all.
Winamax Europe addressed the issue Monday on Twitter:
Winamax was subject to multiple cyberattacks this weekend, which overcharged our servers and forced us to stop the running games.
Some important points:
1/ These malicious acts (called DDoS in computer jargon) are unfortunately common on the Internet and are completely out of our control. These only affect a very small amount of players: the majority of players stay connected and can continue to play as normal. However, in order to keep proceedings fair, and in order for the disconnected players to not be put in an unfavourable position compared to the players who can continue playing, Winamax voluntarily interrupts all tournaments.
2/ Neither the quality of the Winamax servers nor the quality of our cyber security are called into question because of these attacks. They have no impact on the players’ data or funds, which are completely secure.
3/ Players who have been affected by the stoppage will be fully reimbursed to article 3.2 of our Poker Terms and Conditions. Reimbursement will be automatic: you will not need to take any further action.
Preventing this kind of situation from ever recurring is our technical team’s number 1 priority.
We apologise for the issues caused throughout the weekend, and thank you for your patience and understanding.
As Winamax pointed out, DDoS attacks don’t have anything to do with stealing money or hijacking player information. The point of a DDoS attack is to clog the servers and jam things up.