The increasing amount of DDoS (distributed denial of service) attacks is an alarming situation all gamers, as well as gamblers, should be aware of. Last year, numerous reports of such attacks swarmed the internet, from games like “Pokémon GO” and “Warcraft,” to news websites. April of this year, a sudden spike of traffic had been observed in various gambling and gaming sites in Hong Kong, and while traffic is generally good news to all websites, the sudden rush wasn’t from enthusiastic gamers looking to win – there had been a DDOS Attack adamant on taking the sites down.

The unusual activity was reported by a U.S. cybersecurity firm, Arbor Networks.

When traffic becomes a threat

Hong Kong isn’t exactly the common target for DDoS attacks but in the first week of April, a huge rush of traffic from China started pouring in, and continued on through April 13. Through these dates, Hong Kong became the top destination for such attacks, toppling the U.S.

Determining the source of the attack proves next to impossible, as these attacks come from anywhere from dozens to thousands of individual locations. They are often carried out by huge networks of compromised internet connected devices designed as part of a botnet, which in turn has the capability of forcing a website offline.

According to Arbor Networks’ Kirk Soluk, the April attack was an attempt to extort the websites, which will only stop should the websites agree to pay. In an interview with IBT, Soluk surmised that gaming and gambling sites are a convenient target. “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,” he said.

DDoS attacks are becoming more sophisticated

While the surge of DDoS attacks is already a serious threat, it actually gets worse. DDoS attacks are increasing not just in number, but also in persistence, complexity and sophistication. Last year’s report from a compiled data for the April to June quarter, an increased frequency of 75 percent had been observed, and these threats have been labeled bigger compared to data accumulated in the same quarter in 2015.

Symantec calls these DDoS extortions “ransomware,” in which attackers demand money from businesses by encrypting their files. Decrypting them entails the knowledge of the attackers, of course, and Soluk says it will affect users on the site, to the point of putting them at physical risk.

As of now, the attacks have stopped without any indication of victimized websites giving in to the demands of the attackers. It also remains unclear if the affected websites will be cleared of any attack in the future, as the spike came out of nowhere and disappeared in the same surprising way.

Arbor Networks advises online services to apply the best method in protecting network infrastructure. “Prepared organizations that leverage an Intelligent DDoS Mitigation System (IDMS) should have no problem mitigating these types of attacks,” the cybersecurity team said.