Another DDoS Attack Wave Targets Americas Cardroom and Winning Poker Network
The flagship site of the offshore, US-facing Winning Poker Network, Americas Cardroom, has again been victimized by a series of distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks that have crippled the site’s operations in recent days. America’s Cardroom, or ACR, has been under attack since Wednesday, April 25th, in the latest of a recurring series of attacks that first began back in December of 2014.
Whether the party or parties behind the most recent attacks is the same as that behind the prior online assaults isn’t known, and would likely require post-attack evaluation by WPN’s tech staff to determine. As has happened with prior attacks, the latest series seems designed to cripple ACR’s and WPN’s traffic during high-profile tourney offerings; yesterday’s MDS (“Million Dollar Sundays”) tourney, with a $1 guaranteed prize pool at stake, was among the cancelled events.
The attacks have forced the cancellation of much of ACR’s tournament-poker slate for at least six days running, with the latest attack announced via ACR’s Twitter account as this update was being prepared. This latest attack commenced during prime traffic hours during the site, as has been the case several times in recent days.
The vast majority of DDoS attacks targeting online sites are extortionate, demanding money paid as anonymously as possible — in recent years, often in Bitcoin — in exchange for halting the attacks. Online gambling as an industry has been among the markets most heavily targeted by such attacks, which date back to the early 2000’s.
Americas Cardroom was likely deemed too small to be a worthy DDoS target for most of its existence, but as it filled a grey-market vacuum in recent years, it became a target, with the first DDoS attacks against ACR and WPN beginning in December of 2014.
However, it’s not 100% clear that extortion is the sole purpose behind the WPN- and ACR-targeting attacks. Last September, WPN CEO Philip Nagy posted a long video on YouTube in which he declared that some of the attacks may have been the work of a rival site, who may have paid a hacker to disrupt WPN’s and ACR’s traffic.
Though the list of possible rival sites who might want to attack ACR was small, Nagy’s allegations went unproven. However, the DDoS attacks themselves appeared to wane, with no significant DDoS attack waves targeting the WPN servers for more than seven months.
On Friday, ACR posted a generalized update about the ongoing attacks, stating that they continue to refuse to pay ransom to be left alone and that they’re doing what they can to mitigate the situation. ACR has paused running tournaments and issued full refunds whenever the attacks have made the site itself unplayable.
Here’s that ACR blog post from Friday:
Americas Cardroom Experiencing DDoS Attacks
(Americas Cardroom) ─ If you’ve been on the Americas Cardroom client over the last couple of days, you may have been unable to login and play, depending on the time. The reason for this is that we’ve been experiencing some severe Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks since Wednesday afternoon from an unknown party.
For those of you who don’t know what a DDoS attack is, it’s essentially attempts to continually disrupt the customer (you) from accessing services of the host (us).
In many instances, these attacks are motivated by financial gain where the attacker asks for a ransom for the attacks to stop. However, it’s our policy to never pay ransom regardless of the cost, as we will never give in to cyber terrorism.
This isn’t the first time we’ve experienced these attacks, and we’re sure it won’t be the last. Our DDoS mitigation team is working around the clock to mitigate the attacks, and we’ll continue to work tirelessly until all systems are online and we continue to provide you with an excellent gameplay environment, just as we did the times before.
We greatly appreciate your patience while we deal with this issue. Depending on the status of the mitigation, some events in the tournament schedule may be cancelled while we gain full control of the situation.
Please keep checking back in the tournament lobby for further updates.