Activision Blizzard games crippled by hours-long DDoS attack
Gamers were thrilled when the fourth part of the legendary action role-playing game Diablo was released earlier this month. But as they geared up for a leisurely summer weekend of playing, their excitement quickly turned to frustration when the game was unavailable due to a prolonged cyberattack.
A distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack targeted the servers of Diablo’s developer, Activision Blizzard, which are used to authenticate users and connect them to games. The incident made it almost impossible to play some of its hit games, including Diablo IV, World of Warcraft, and Call of Duty.
The attack lasted for more than 10 hours and was mitigated late on Sunday, according to Activision Blizzard’s statement on Twitter.
Blizzard has not yet identified the hacker group behind the attack, and as of now no one has come forward to claim responsibility.
Activision Blizzard has been the frequent target of cyberattacks recently. Though not sophisticated or particularly damaging, DDoS attacks can temporarily take a server offline by flooding it with traffic.
Earlier this year, the company confirmed that hackers gained access to its internal systems through a phishing SMS message sent to an employee.
Last September, the company's servers were hit by a DDoS attack, preventing numerous users from being able to play games on their computers. A month later, in October of last year, Activision Blizzard’s long-anticipated Overwatch 2 video game was unavailable during the launch due to wide-scale connectivity issues.
Always-online games, like Diablo and Overwatch, are particularly vulnerable to cyberattacks since they require users to be connected to the internet in order to play.
This has led to widespread criticism within the gaming community given inequalities in access to the internet, and speed, around the world. The games may also experience slower loading times on Saturdays and Sundays when network traffic is at its peak.
In addition to DDoS attacks, threat actors employ various other methods, such as malware distribution or phishing attempts, to target potential victims.
Last week, researchers from cybersecurity firm Cyble discovered a malicious Super Mario game installer that was spreading the SupremeBot malware.
“Threat actors use game installers to spread various malware because games have a wide user base, and users generally trust game installers as legitimate software,” the researchers said.
Earlier in June, Cyble uncovered a phishing campaign targeting Russian-speaking players of Enlisted, a multiplayer first-person shooter. The hackers used a fake website that closely resembles the official Enlisted webpage to distribute ransomware.
Daryna Antoniuk is a freelance reporter for Recorded Future News based in Ukraine. She writes about cybersecurity startups, cyberattacks in Eastern Europe and the state of the cyberwar between Ukraine and Russia. She previously was a tech reporter for Forbes Ukraine. Her work has also been published at Sifted, The Kyiv Independent and The Kyiv Post.