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Hackers claim DDoS knocked Pokémon GO offline last weekend

Pokémon GO has been an unbridled success since it launched about two weeks ago, and that comes amid sometimes crippling server issues. Developer Niantic was forced to slow its global rollout so it could add server capacity, and there are still some days that the game just won’t connect. This past weekend was particularly bad, and now a hacking group called OurMine is claiming responsibility for the downtime.

If you have not heard of Pokémon GO, I can only assume you’ve been living under a rock sans internet access for the last few weeks. Announced last year, the game grew out of a 2014 April Fools prank at Google that scattered all the original 151 Pokémon around Google Maps. It was a big hit, and Niantic (owned by Google at the time) started working with The Pokémon Company to make it into a real game. Pokémon GO lets you wander the real world, hunting Pokémon and locating gyms in which to do battle.

The number of people playing the game is almost beyond belief — you’ll encounter people out playing the game almost everywhere. Niantic rolled the game out to 26 additional countries over the weekend, which many blamed for the problems. The game was inaccessible most of Saturday, throwing up server errors whenever most players tried to connect. OurMine says it carried out a DDoS attack on Niantic’s servers, and that was to blame for the outage, not an influx of new players.

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According to a representative of OurMine, the group only wants to “protect” Niantic’s servers. So, obviously the best way is to flood them with traffic and ruin everyone’s Saturday. OurMine says it will stop attacking Pokémon GO if someone from Niantic contacts the group so they can “teach them how to protect their servers.” That does not seem likely to happen. This situation is very reminiscent of the Lizard Squad hacks of several years ago that targeted popular gaming services like Xbox Live and PSN.

So what now? Since it’s not likely Niantic’s engineers are going to come crawling to some internet pranksters for security tips, the attacks will probably continue until they get bored. A separate group, PoodleCorp, says it has a Pokémon GO DDoS scheduled for August 1st. Hopefully Niantic can at least get its regular server load under control before it’s hit again. You might want to get working on catching ’em all now just in case.

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