While there have not been many mentions of poker websites dealing with DDOS Attacks, it recently happened to SealsWithClubs. The Bitcoin poker room endured some serious downtime, but eventually prevailed against the attack.
A DDOS attack, or distributed-denial-of-service attack, is something many websites have to deal with from time to time. Among the more famous attacks we recall the elusive hacker group Anonymous running the Scientology Church website into the ground. Two of the main guys behind this attack did not stay anonymous as they were arrested and sentenced to one year in prison.
We spoke briefly with SealsWithClubs spokesperson and chairman Bryan Micon who explained what happened.
“We had a DDOS attack on our site, and it wasn’t even the strongest we’ve ever faced with SealsWithClubs. This attack was just a really smartly done and something we were not prepared for,” Micon explained.
Wide spread connection issues. It appears to be an attack. Full ST6 resources mobilized. We will defend this house.— SealsWithClubs (@SealsWithClubs) January 21, 2014
SealsWithClubs was anonymously launched in August 2011 as one of the first Bitcoin poker clients. Right now SealsWithClubs is the biggest Bitcoin poker room, but it’s still very small compared to online poker juggernaut PokerStars.
“We are a young, small, but expanding organization and these are some of the growing pains a traditional startup might have,” Micon said about the recent problems.
Password Hack Did Not Result in Damages
In late 2013 SealsWithClubs was also in trouble as their password database was hacked. We interviewed Micon about that situation on December 20th and today he reaffirmed that no actual damage was done to users.
“The hacking and the password leak from December 2013 have not lead to any users that I know of, losing their Bitcoin,” Micon explained as he went into that positive part of this bad news a little further.
“That’s (users not losing money) not only underreported but also the most important part of that. From a player’s perspective, what they are concerned about is the safety of their Bitcoin,” Micon said as he lashed out a little bit towards regular poker clients that had to deal with safety issues in the past.
“In the online poker industry we have seen this, operators failing, time and time again and making sure their money is safe is the one thing players want. Our password table was leaked because it had a poor encryption scheme. It has since then been majorly revamped and properly secured. That hack lead to no costumer coin loss that I know of, and I think that it’s a testament to how good the team is also,” Micon said, proud of his team and their accomplishments.
“The DDOS is a different story even though these are both technical failures on SealsWithClub’s part. The system and the gentleman behind it were good and robust enough to yield no costumer loss of funds,” Micon stated as he got back to the topic at hand.
DDOS Attack Protection
“If another attack, like the previous one, would happen tomorrow I think that the system is now protected so that you would never hear about it. I think the more traditional and longer operating poker sites all have protection against things like this,” Micon said.
Back on March 23rd 2013 SealsWithClubs also dealt with a DDOS Attack, as reported on by PokerFuse. We asked Micon why he thinks SealsWithClubs was the target of a DDOS Attack.
“It’s difficult to say because in the past we’ve had DDOS attacks on our site as well. In some instances we’ve been ransomed, but we’ve never paid anything. We don’t deal with terrorists and we will never pay a ransom to stop an attack on our site. This time there was no ransom note or other communication towards us. We treat these things as technical challenges. We don’t think about who did it, we think about the technical challenge of making a proper defense,” Micon confidently added.
Verified Android and Desktop clients working. Apology freerolls abound. Dr Huh has fixed it. He has the Chairman's deep gratitude.— SealsWithClubs (@SealsWithClubs) January 24, 2014
“A savvy IT professional will know the same things, if not less, than a hacker so if you want to do harm there are always ways to do so. We feel confident that we’ve built sufficient layers that defend us against future DDOS attacks. These are not cheap, easy, fixes or tricks but enterprise level services that help protect our site.”
“We’re very confident in the companies that we work with now, and that layers that we have installed, because the DDOS attack didn’t stop. Play has resumed as normal while I think the attack might still be going on actually.
No Loss of Funds By Players
“There was no Bitcoin loss for any of our players, and it might’ve even been +ev for them,” Micon said as players were generously compensated.
“We have a thread with over a million views on the BitcoinTalk forum, and everyone that complained was properly compensated. Like I said, for some it was even +ev because while some players were disconnected, others were able to keep playing in the Big BTC. We refunded disconnected players and also paid out the entire prize pool.”
Micon ultimately closed out with a positive note on how the feedback he’s been getting about SealsWithClubs has been overwhelmingly positive.
“Our feedback on BitcoinTalk, I would say, is 95-5 positive. If only 5% of your users are saying things like, “SealsWithClubs is totally rigged” or “They’re thieves” we’re just absolutely killing it. There will always be haters and I think the site is doing really good by providing poker players with what they want and by having very good customer support,” Micon said.
About SealsWithClub: The Bitcoin poker client went live in August 2011 when the price of one coin hovered around $2. This poker client only accepts Bitcoin as a currency and all games are played for Bitcoin.