Last month reportedly saw a distributed denial of service (DDOS) attack hit the operations of some 29 online gaming sites based in Hong Kong with most of the disruptive traffic found to be originating just over the border in China.

According to a report from the International Business Times newspaper, the two-week DDOS action, which began from April 6, had been designed to take the sites offline and was first spotted by American cyber security firm Arbor Networks Incorporated after Hong Kong was found to be receiving some 28% of the world’s total attacks greater than ten billion bits per second.

The newspaper reported that a DDOS attack sees a perpetrator attempt to make a domain unavailable by flooding its servers with superfluous requests from multiple locations. Arbor Network Incorporated revealed that the United States regularly receives the highest percentage of such assaults while the second week of April saw Hong Kong top the charts with bursts reaching as high as 39% of all global traffic.

Kirk Soluk, Threat Intelligence And Response Manager for Arbor Networks Incorporated, told the International Business Times that his analysis indicated that the DDOS attack was likely an attempt to extort money from the impacted sites as the domains relied heavily on digital services to store sensitive data and financial information.

“Gambling sites and gaming sites that have a financial component are a particularly attractive target due to the money the sites stand to lose if they are not available,” Soluk told the newspaper.

American software firm Symantec Corporation reportedly told the International Business Times that incidents of “ransomware” attacks, which see hackers illegally encrypt the files of individual users and small businesses before demanding money to reverse their actions, rose by 36% year-on-year in 2016 while the average cost had increased by 266%. Conversely, it explained that DDOS assaults were normally used to hit larger organizations although Soluk warned that such attacks can sometimes impact others beyond the intended target such as a November action that damaged residential heating systems in Finland.

“Fortunately, we haven’t seen a large-scale critical infrastructure outage directly attributed to a DDOS attack but it’s certainly not out of the realm of possibility,” Soluk told the newspaper. “More notable are outages that result in financial losses for organizations whose Internet presence is taken offline as well as inconveniences for end users wishing to purchase goods or even play games.”

Soluk reportedly proclaimed that the vast majority of the DDOS attack traffic that hit Hong Kong last month had come from China while the action had impacted a few other sites including two that belonged to local hospitals.

“Geography has to be taken in proper context, particularly when considering the source of an attack,” Soluk told the International Business Times. “It is easy for an attacker sitting anywhere in the world to launch a DDOS attack from anywhere else in world.”

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