As we come to the close of Valve’s extremely popular 2013 Holiday Sale, it’s not all good news, neither for the company, nor the gamers who support them. Massive distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks have taken several websites offline for hours – some are reconnected for a while, but others remain in the dark.
DDOS attacks work by flooding a server with so many requests or so much other traffic that it simply can’t keep up with the demand.
User @chFtheCat on Twitter has claimed responsibility for the attack, along with @LARCENY_, though it’s difficult to say whether they’re actually responsible or just taking credit:
so we’re launching more ddos dildo attacks at steam, me n @LARCENY_
? chF (@chFtheCat) January 3, 2014
They aren’t saying why they’ve decided to take Steam offline, although @LARCENY_ offered to stop a similar attack against developer Hi-Rez Studios if they promised to nerf SMITE’s Aphrodite:
@HiRezStudios Nerf Aphrodite and we’ll stop hitting your site
? John Doe (@LARCENY_) January 3, 2014
Meanwhile, known group @DerpTrolling is claiming responsibility for some of the other services, like EA’s Origin, being taken offline overnight. They’re actively distancing themselves from the Steam DDOS attack, naming some of their attacks after Valve founder Gabe Newell:
@chFtheCat You would deny Gabens amazing steam sales to the internet?? Your almost as bad as that DERP group.
? DERP (@DerpTrolling) January 3, 2014
Steam clearly wasn’t the only site taken down in the attacks, though it seems to be the biggest. All of the following services or developers were rumored to be affected at some point over the last day:
- Steam (Valve)
- Origin (EA)
- Games for Windows (Microsoft)
- World of Warcraft
- Hi-Rez (developer)
- League of Legends
- Popular Minecraft servers
- World of Tanks
Regardless of who is ultimately responsible, it’s the gamers that lose out, missing the chance at holiday sales and time off of work to play the titles they bought. The attacks also illustrate one of the major weaknesses in moving to an environment where all of your software is hosted on remote servers – should the servers be taken offline (whether by the company running them or as in this case, by outside agents) you won’t be able to download and install games without having a local copy, and in some cases when always-on DRM is required, you simply won’t be able to play them, period.
While some of the services have been able to restore online connectivity, others remain down for the count. In the meantime, (if, like us, you’re worried about missing out on potentially major sale pricing) stores like Amazon have also reduced their price on select titles.
Some of our favorites include:
- Psychonauts ($2.50)
- The entire Mass Effect Trilogy ($9.99)
- Telltale’s amazing The Walking Dead – all five episodes ($7.49)
- Bioshock, Bioshock 2, and Bioshock Infinite (personally, my favorite game for all 2013) – all three titles ($14.99)
- Tomb Raider ($7.99)
- Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons ($5.99)
Many of Amazon’s titles use Steam or Origins for DRM, so while you can pick them up on sale, it may be a few hours until the DDOS attacks stop and you get a chance to play.
Have the outages affected any of your plans? Let us know in the forums.
EDIT: Check out this amazing website which tracks digital attacks by country: