Battle for Battlefield

Gaming service hack attack whacks thousands of Swedish bystanders

On Thursday, Sweden’s biggest internet service provider, Telia, said that its network had suffered an attack earlier this week from hackers who were apparently trying to target a gaming company. Reports suggest the target was Electronic Arts (EA), which runs some Battlefield services out of the country.

According to Telia, the distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack occurred on Tuesday night and through much of Wednesday, forcing the ISP to toughen up its systems. While it was ongoing, the DDoS made it difficult for thousands of [company]Telia[/company]’s customers to surf the web, watch digital TV and make VoIP calls.

Telia spokesman Marcus Haglund told me Thursday that the attack first hit around 10pm on Tuesday evening, running for around 45 minutes. “Then it calmed down overnight,” he said. “It continued from 10am and was running all through the day and escalated in the night. It ended at 8pm.”

“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,” Haglund continued. “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.”

Haglund said thousands of customers had been affected. In such attacks, the target’s systems are flooded with data, causing them to stop working. Recent years have seen such attacks grow in severity, with the culprits amplifying them by bouncing the traffic off open servers, notably domain name system (DNS) servers.

The ISP hasn’t named the gaming company that was the target, but the Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter reported that it was Electronic Arts (EA), which has offices in Stockholm that develop and run the Battlefield Heroes and Battlefield Play4Free services. The paper quoted F5 Networks security expert Joakim Sundberg as saying the attack used DNS servers for amplification, and that it was perpetrated by the “Lizard Squad” hacker group.

Lizard Squad claimed on Twitter that it had taken down EA’s servers, and has previously claimed responsibility for repeatedly knocking over Sony’s PlayStation Network, Microsoft’s XBox Live and other online gaming services.

TeliaSonera chief Johan Dennelind told ZDNet that the ISP had not “seen an attack on that type of scale before”.

This article was updated at 7.40am PT to change “a few thousand customers” to “thousands of customers” — a correction made at Telia’s request, which may indicate that there were more than a few thousand victims.