Centrebet Hit with Barrage of DDoS Attacks

22 July 2004

The seriousness of DDoS attacks on the interactive gambling sites is being felt in Australia, as one of the country's most popular sports betting sites was taken offline Thursday by a sophisticated group of hackers. A spokesman for the company, Northern Territory-based Centrebet.com, pointed out, however, that media reports indicating that they paid the hackers $100,000 to stop the attacks were erroneous.

"We had anecdotal evidence of companies who have paid off groups similar to this in the past," Centrebet's Gerard Daffey explained, "and they continued to get attacked."

For nearly a year, online gaming operators have been dealing with extortionists who threaten to attack sites unless operators pay large sums of money up front.

Daffey said Centerbet responded to threats by obtaining security software, and it's been effective so far.

"We have had [the software] in place for about a week now and haven't been down yet," he said. "We can see that they are still attacking us, but they haven't decided to move on to another target just yet."

Considering how long the attacks on the industry have been going on, Daffey was somewhat surprised that Centerbet hadn't been targeted before last week.

"We were one of the last ones to get the regional attack," he said. "We have a presence in all of the countries that got hit."

Also odd was the timing of the attack. "It happened on a Thursday," Daffy pointed out, "when there wasn't much going on in terms of sports betting and there was absolutely nothing on the TV that was capturing the attention of punters."

But that didn't stop the hackers from waging one of the biggest attacks on an individual site the industry has seen.

"Apparently there are about 12 or 13 different ways to do one of these attacks, and they pretty much threw everything they had at us," Daffy said. "They attacked us on every possible front at the same time. It was a very complex operation and clearly was done by a group that has a lot of resources behind it."

The size and thoroughness of the attack, he added, should be cause for concern, and not just for the I-gaming industry.

"I kept saying all the way through when these attacks first started that this industry was just the start of it for them," Daffey said. "If they can take us down what is to stop them from taking down the government or the banking industry?"

Daffey said Centerbet communicated with both Australian and U.K. authorities after it was attack.

"There were some that wanted us to pay so they could track the money back to the attackers, but there is just no way to do that."

Nevertheless, he's glad to be working with British and Australian authorities.

"This is a big step in the right direction in getting these guys," he said, "but I still think it is just the tip of the iceberg."


  • Centrebet isn't the only Australian site to be hit. Terry Lillis, who started Centerbet before selling it and creating Center Racing, saw his site get hit earlier this year and was forced to pay off the extortionist to keep the site up and running.

  • On a positive note for the industry, British and Russian authorities on Wednesday announced that they have apprehended three alleged ring leaders of gangs that carry out DDoS attacks. (See "Busted - British, Russian Authorities Nail DDoS Ring.")

Nobody knows where Kevin Smith came from. He simply showed up one day and started writing articles for IGN. We liked him, so we decided to keep him. We think you'll like him too. Kevin can be reached at kevin@igamingnews.com.