When the Swedish Internet went out this week, it put possibly millions of online gamblers out of their games. The Nordic country is well-known as a popular online hub, and Martin Jacobson, this year’s World Series of Poker Main Event winner, hails from the Scandinavian country.
The Swedish Internet was sent offline Tuesday and Wednesday after Lizard Squad, a well-known group of hackers, targeted Electronic Arts’ gaming network headquartered in Stockholm.
The global interactive entertainment software company runs its “Battlefield” franchise from the location, among other titles. Taking credit for the cyber attack on Twitter, Lizard Squad tweeted, “EA #offline #LizardSquad.”
According to Telia, the nation’s biggest Internet service provider, the hackers performed distributed denial of service attacks (DDoS) on the EA network to strain the system and ultimately shut it down.
Although the telecommunications giant hasn’t specifically identified EA, opting to simply call it “an Internet gaming company,” the Swedish Post and Telecom Authority confirmed EA as the target on Thursday.
With over 1.2 million residential user accounts, Telia is the ISP to more Swedes than any other corporation in the country. It also provides services to EA, which is why after the gaming site was overran with data, Telia also experienced severe disruptions in its operations.
At around 10 PM on Tuesday, Internet, television, and VoIP service was halted to an unknown amount of Telia users. On Wednesday, interruptions continued sporadically as the assault on EA continued.
Telia quickly worked to find the cause and possibly a solution to the breach, and by Thursday claimed a resolution had been put in place. Marcus Haglund, press officer for the company, said, “We have an internal investigation that will run to the bottom of what has happened and what we can do to prevent it in the future.
There was a configuration that was a bit lax yesterday that we have corrected. If the same attack was aimed at us or any of our customers, we can say we are not vulnerable in the way we were yesterday.”
That apparently wasn’t completely true as Telia reported on its corporate website that it was still experiencing outages and problems on Friday resulting from persistent DDoS attacks.
Sabotaging a website as Lizard Squad did involves creating a huge influx of traffic to a site, in numbers so large that is crashes the network completely. Typically, bots or zombie computers are used to infiltrate the servers.
These robot armies use corrupted computers to send connection requests to uncorrupted machines called reflectors. When the reflector receives the request, it doesn’t see the zombie but the real victim of the attack, in this case EA.
The two continue communicating and in the process slows or totally discontinues the network from being able to perform.
Some of the biggest sites on the web have been targeted in DDoS attacks. From Amazon and Yahoo, to Microsoft and CNN, blocking malware is no easy task.
Sweden Not Working
Telia CEO Johan Dennelind said of the hack, “It really shows the vulnerability of our era. We haven’t seen an attack on that type of scale before.” Statistics on the percentage of Telia’s 1.2 million accounts that were affected were not revealed.
However, Dennelind said the situation was “severe,” and one that left “Sweden not working.”