Cyber Attack Hits Sweden, Sending Poker Offline

Telia Sweden

Online poker players were among those affected in Sweden by Telia Internet service outages, after hackers attacked EA’s gaming network. (Image: business.dk)

A cyber Internet attack that sent online poker, and everything else, offline this week affected all of Sweden, from whence comes this year’s World Series of Poker Main Event champion Martin Jacobson and many other aficionados of the game.

Telia, the largest Internet service provider in Sweden, released details of its outage that occurred Tuesday evening and intermittently throughout Wednesday.

According to the telecommunications operator, the company was not the primary target of the attack, but the recipient of massive traffic overloading its DNS servers after the Electronic Arts (EA) site was compromised.

Although Telia declined to identify EA as the targeted site, company spokesman Marcus Haglund said, “It was an Internet gaming company that was attacked and they sent us massive traffic which our DNS servers could not handle. We will of course investigate this incident further.”

Hackers Identified

Lizard Squad, a notorious hacker group that claimed responsibility for previous attacks on Microsoft’s Xbox Live and Sony’s PlayStation networks, has stepped forward as being the culprit of the EA assault. Although its Twitter accounts have since been suspended, the group tweeted Thursday night, “EA #offline #LizardSquad.”

A DDoS, or distributed denial of service attack, is when hackers overload a virtual network in order to prevent real users and customers from accessing its services.

Case in point, Lizard Squad likely used malware bots to flood EA’s network, ultimately causing it to stop working. Since Telia supplies the connection to EA, its system was then compromised, prohibiting some of the company’s 1.2 million residential subscription accounts from accessing the Internet, watch digital television, and make VoIP telephone calls.

Problem Not Solved

The attack lasted for about 45 minutes on Tuesday night at around 10 PM. While the overnight hours were quiet, the ISP incurred additional outages throughout the day on Wednesday.

Telia announced Thursday it had discovered the flaw in its security system, and had taken steps to combat a future hacking incident.

Haglund revealed, “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.”

Unfortunately, on Friday Telia released another statement on its website acknowledging further disruption. The company recognized that the denial of service attacks continue to cause interference with broadband and TV services.

Government Intervening

Speaking in Stockholm at an Ericsson event, CEO Johan Dennelind said the situation left “Sweden not working.” He further explained, “It really shows the vulnerability of our era. We haven’t seen an attack on that type of scale before.”

While it’s not clear how many of Telia’s 1.2 million accounts are currently afflicted, the susceptibility of present security measures is cause for concern.

The Swedish Post and Telecom Authority has called an emergency meeting scheduled for after the New Year in order to address the recent string of attacks. At that time, the agency will hear from experts and industry executives on what can and must be done in order to provide a safer Internet to Swedes.

Philip Conneller
Written by
Philip Conneller
As part of the team that launched Bluff Magazine back in 2004, and then as Editor of Bluff Europe, Philip Conneller has (probably) written thousands of articles about poker and has travelled the globe interviewing the greatest players in the world, not to mention some of the sexiest celebrities known to man in some of the world’s sexiest destinations. The highlight of his career, however, was asking Phil Ivey (as a joke) how to play jacks, and emerging none-the-wiser. Philip once won $20,000 with 7-2 offsuit. He has been told off for unwittingly playing Elton John’s piano on two separate occasions, on different sides of the Atlantic Ocean. He became a writer because he is a lousy pianist. He lives in London where he spends his time agonizing about Arsenal football club, yet in Wenger he trusts.

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