Are Xbox Live users taking out contracts against their opponents? Microsoft is investigating a rash of attacks on Xbox Live users by hackers using data flooding tools to kick them offline.
It's the same sort of attack that's been targeting PC users for years. Hackers get a hold of the IP address players use to connect to Xbox Live and then flood the address with information, knocking them off of the service. Some hackers are even running booting services, where players can pay to have their rivals knocked-off, so to speak. The BBC reports that services can be bought for as low as $20, setting up an attack that can be run any time it is needed.
"There's been a definite increase in the amount of people talking about and distributing these things over the last three to four weeks," said Chris Boyd, director of malware research at Facetime Communications.
Microsoft is actively investigating instances of players being booted off of Xbox Live in this fashion, but this type of attack is extremely difficult to track down, as hackers generally send the data from pools of hijacked computers, and don't technically have to access Xbox Live in order to initiate the process. From Microsoft's official response to the issue:
"We are investigating reports involving the use of malicious software tools that an attacker could use to try and disrupt an Xbox LIVE player's internet connection.
This problem is not related to the Xbox Live service, but to the player's internet connection. The attacker could also attempt [to]disrupt other internet activities, such as streaming video or web browsing, using the same tools."
What they are basically saying here is that there really isn't too much they can do. Hackers can access your IP address by routing Xbox Live through their computer to the console and monitoring traffic using a PC application, a method that doesn't intrude upon the service in any noticeable way. Essentially it attacks the user's internet connection directly.
What can you do to avoid being the subject of such an attack? I've got a crazy idea... why don't we all just be polite to one another over Xbox Live so no one feels compelled to attack us? No? Okay, just thought I'd throw that out there.
Hackers target Xbox Live players [BBC News]