Players couldn't log into games like World of Warcraft and Diablo III for several hours last night thanks to a series of DDoS attacks that flooded Blizzard's servers, the developer said. Blizzard says they have since thwarted the problem, though some login issues could linger this morning.
DDoS, which stands for Distributed Denial of Service, refers to an intentional torrent of traffic that's designed to cripple a company's servers. DDoS attacks, which are easy to pull off yet difficult to stop, happen frequently in the world of gaming. Using malicious programs like the High Orbit Ion Cannon, people who want to cause havoc can overload a game's authentication servers, causing lag for anyone who's playing online and preventing new people from logging on.
"These attacks are just flooding our internet tubes: no actual account information, payment information, or character data is at risk," said Blizzard support agent Glaxigrav on the World of Warcraft forums last night. "Given some of the realm stability issues caused by the service interruptions there may be some log loss when loot is dropped, or crafting occurs. Our Game Masters will do our very best to locate any missing items if a ticket is submitted."
This particularly sucks for anyone who was playing in Diablo III's hardcore mode — which permanently deletes your character when you die — when the servers went down.