Pokémon Go service downed, DDoSers rush to claim glory

Is Pokémon Go the victim  of DDoSers – or its own success?
Is Pokémon Go the victim of DDoSers – or its own success?

Pokémon Go has apparently been DDoSed and two separate groups are claiming responsibility. PoodleCorp and OurMine have both claimed ‘the glory' for downing services on Pokémon Go over the July 16/17 weekend.

However, Pokémon Go developer Niantic claimed that the outage was not the result of a DDoS attack, instead blaming the number of users trying to get online.

The massively popular mobile game, which was only released in North America and Europe last week, experienced downed servers over the weekend, causing great frustration to the millions of new players looking to enslave fictional animals. The miscreant hacker group, PoodleCorp, claimed responsibility via Twitter.

A purported member of the group OurMine spoke to TechCrunch. This member said that, in fact, OurMine were behind the DDoS attack which brought down Pokémon Go's service and that the group would not stop until Pokémon Go's representatives got in touch.

Gaming platforms are particularly sensitive to DDoS, Ofer Gayer, product manager for DDoS at Imperva told SCMagazineUK.com: “Since online gaming platforms like Pokémon Go are highly sensitive to latency and availability issues, they're ideal DDoS attack targets. Mitigating DDoS on game servers is a particularly complex task. Gamers are very sensitive to the impact on latency, so what may be considered negligible for most services can be very frustrating for the gaming community.”

PoodleCorp has made a name for itself as something of a killjoy, targeting wildly popular figures in internet culture including YouTubers Pewdiepie and H3H3 Productions. The group does not appear all that interested in money, merely infamy.

OurMine has famously gone after and hijacked the social media accounts of various Silicon Valley luminaries. Most recently, OurMine took over the Twitter account of Jack Dorsey, Twitter's founder. Speaking to TechCrunch, the anonymous member of OurMine claimed the group merely wants to promote stronger security. This may all be an irregular advertising campaign – OurMine doubles as a security team, charging thousands of dollars for its services.

Chris Boyd, malware intelligence analyst at Malwarebytes, helped explain these kinds of campaigns to SC. "More often than not, attacks such as these are carried out for fun, while couched in language claiming they're doing it to 'help company x with their security'. The reality is, if they wanted to help they'd operate the way other vulnerability researchers do when faced with a potential problem – reach out, file bug reports, leverage the wider infosec community to make use of their contacts, and work on getting an issue resolved.”

Pokémon Go's developers blamed the downed servers on the game's tidal wave of popularity. John Hanke, CEO at Niantic which developed the game, told Business Insider, "We thought the game would be popular, but it obviously struck a nerve.”

However, just because someone says something on Twitter, does not make it true. The DDoS attack has not yet been verified and Niantic maintains that the game's popularity is to blame.

The hacktivist network, Anonymous, expressed its own doubts.

However, XO, the reputed leader of PoodleCorp posted that there would be more to come, perhaps at the beginning of next month.

As of this writing, service outages are still being reported on Twitter.

The last few weeks have seen a couple of problems arise surrounding the release of the app. Not only did the app have to be pulled UK Apple store and the Google Play Store due to overwhelming demand, but fake versions of the app have been circulating, in some cases infecting eager players with DroidJack remote access Trojans.