|With several major sporting events underway this summer, the number of European online betting sites attacked by cyber extortionists is increasing rapidly warn industry observers. |
Typically hackers, flood online gambling sites with fake data packets also known as distributed denial of service attack in an attempt to force online bookmakers to cough up or face shutdown.
Betfair estimates that wagers on their website for the Euro 2004 tournament alone to hit US$200 million. Criminals demand up to $15,000 for protection from DDoS attacks.
Originally it was feared many Internet bookies would be targeted around the start of Euro 2004 by organized gangs, mostly operating from Eastern Europe, Latin America and some with zombie computers in other countries. At least two groups control tens of thousands of compromised PCs, some sources believe. However, to date it seems likely the sites are struggling with nothing more problematic than high demand from punters than from hackers.
According to web monitoring firm Empirix in terms of handling traffic volumes, William Hill performed best in terms of homepage availability (100 per cent) and the speed the site took to access (0.58 second average over a broadband connection). Tote Sport was actually the fastest on average (0.33 seconds) but couldn't deliver 100 per cent availability during the test period. Betting exchange Betfair was the second best performing site - also with 100 per cent reliability and an average download time of 0.79 seconds.
Ladbrokes customers may have experienced the worst problems during the past week, says Empirix. The site only managed 95.79 per cent availability and actually experienced a dip to an average of 77.8 per cent during the 24-hour period leading up to the England v France game.
Other websites which failed to hit the ideal 100 per cent availability during the test period included Blue Square (98.74 per cent) which had been the victim of an extortion gang leading up to the tournament. Coral (98.95), Sporting Bet (98.32) and Tote Sport (99.58) also fell short of the 100 per cent mark.
‘Site availability is paramount, especially in betting. A punter who can’t access a site quickly at the first time trying may well take their business elsewhere - especially if they are involved in the very time-sensitive practice of in-game betting - changing, modifying or laying off bets during the running of the event,’ warns David Yu, CTO of Betfair.