DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) attacks take many forms and have been around for years on the internet. The gist of the attack is that a target is flooded with junk traffic of some kind, overloading their network to a degree that the user loses their outbound connection to the internet. In the case of the issue in gaming, DDoS attacks are often used by nefarious gamers to force their competition from the match in a multiplayer game, forcing a win by default. The usage of these attacks in games obviously ruins the fun, so many companies are quick to try and stifle the attackers, usually by banning their accounts in their games.
It also doesn’t help matters much that in recent years there has been an explosion in the popularity and commonality of these attacks online. And since DDoS attacks are often tied to extortion demands, infighting between hacker groups and other malfeasance, there has also been considerable growth in “DDoS-for-hire services”. These illegal operations are often marketed under the term “booters” to directly target gamers wishing to make use of them to boot the competition, hence the name. These are services set up by hackers who compromise servers and PCs with some type of remote control software, essentially stealing the machine and its connection for nefarious purposes. The DDoS service then uses a simple web portal to send out commands to the botnet, on the behalf of paying customers.
But now, Ubisoft is stepping up to help fight back against the problem in one of their most popular games, Rainbow Six Siege. Players who use booters in Siege will now begin receiving permanent bans from the game.
Ubisoft will not be letting up after banning the accounts either, and will send out cease & desist requests to DDoS-for-hire services caught facilitating the attacks. There’s likely other plans in the works to curb these attacks in their games, but Ubisoft wisely played a little close to the chest to prevent their targets from avoiding detection.
It’s definitely questionable as to whether the legal action route will be effective though, as the sheer volume of botnets out in the wild is innumerable. And there will always be more malware, and more botmasters looking to make an easy buck monetizing these infected hosts. And since the services are illegal in nature, shutting them down is often very difficult if not impossible. Sure, banning bad actors and trying to shut them down is a good approach, but it’s a bandaid solution. Trouble is, there’s not much else Ubisoft can do without expending considerable amounts of money on legal cases and also getting massive law enforcement cooperation.
The recent banwave comes as a result of these attacks in Rainbow Six Siege comes during the Operation Ember Rise expansion of content, forcing Ubisoft’s hand. Operation Ember Rise introduced two new Operators into the online shooter, as well as a handful of new weapons and tools to make use of in matches. Ubisoft also reworked various maps to change up the meta-game. Another change that the company made, and is suspected of being a motivating cause behind the attacks on the game, is that multiplayer rankings were reset, so cheaters lost their progress on the global leaderboards.