Welcome to Jester's Trek.
I'm your host, Jester. I've been an EVE Online player for about six years. One of my four mains is Ripard Teg, pictured at left. Sadly, I've succumbed to "bittervet" disease, but I'm wandering the New Eden landscape (and from time to time, the MMO landscape) in search of a cure.
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Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Distributed denial of spaceships

I'll make this quick.

Yesterday's big news in MMO-land was the DDoS attack launched by LulzSec on EVE Online, Minecraft, League of Legends, and other gaming-related websites. EVE was down for a total of a little over seven hours in two separate incidents.

Other websites have covered the overall story -- it was even covered in The Register -- so I'm not going to do that. Instead, I had a couple of comments about the larger implications.

First, though the attack was fairly serious, it appears that CCP did most of the "damage" to themselves, electing to take down the EVE Online servers themselves rather than risk a larger security issue. If true, this was an interesting and rather conservative choice. The shutdown did generate some player rage, though I wonder how much worse the rage would have been had LulzSec hit World of Tanks at the same time. ;-)

Second and more importantly, though: why is anyone surprised by this? It was really just a matter of time.

Denying the other guy the ability to play EVE is becoming a time-honored tradition in that game. It started with overloading a node or a grid during a wartime or 0.0 assault to prevent the other guy from being able to jump into a system or see the grid if he chooses to risk the jump. Half of the strategy involved in big EVE fleet fights these days is trying to trick the other guy into jumping into you instead of the other way around. Often now, fleets will get established in critical systems many, many hours before reinforcement timers are set to run out, just to ensure their hold on the system or grid when the timer does run out. The recent fall of the NC was helped along by the NC not wanting to jump their supercap fleet into an existing supercap fleets already established in systems under attack at two critical points during the war.  In both cases, the attacking fleets were in system many hours before the applicable timers ran out, waiting impatiently for a fight that would never come.

But this is relatively minor stuff. Where it became more dangerous was earlier this year, when denial-of-spaceship tactics escalated from there to the DDoS attacks that the DRF launched on evenews24, and Goonfleet and NC forums and communications during that war.

Not that today's attack was directed at any given party in EVE, other than the EVE player base itself.  But the attack points to the larger issue, and points to the future of the meta game in EVE.

How big of a step is it from yesterday's attack to someone, someday soon, launching a DDoS attack on EVE itself to push a critical reinforcement timer from "their primetime" to "our primetime"?

In my view, it's not a very big step at all. It'll happen. You heard it here first.

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