Minecraft Servers DDoS Attacks

Minecraft, with over 500 million registered users and 166 million monthly players, faces significant risks from distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks, threatening server functionality, player experience, and the game's reputation. Despite the prevalence of DDoS attacks on the game, the majority of incidents go unreported, leaving a gap in awareness and protection. This article explains what happens to a Minecraft server during a DDoS attack and how to protect against such attacks. For an in-depth version of the article, check out this white paper.

When Creepers Breach: What Happens When an Attack Is Successful

When a Minecraft server is hit with a DDoS attack, players may have problems with logging in to servers, loading worlds, navigating biomes, using tools, and chatting. They can also experience general lags, disconnections, timeouts, or server crashes. These in-game disruptions can ruin the gaming experience for players while causing financial and reputational losses to server owners, operators, and the wider Minecraft community.

What Happens to a Minecraft Server During a DDoS Attack?

In a DDoS attack, the attacker's objective is to disrupt a Minecraft server, rendering it unstable or unavailable to legitimate users, by flooding it with malicious traffic until it becomes overwhelmed. DDoS attacks on Minecraft servers can last anywhere from a few seconds to days, depending on their severity and the countermeasures in place.

Severe attacks can cost players prize money in tournaments, diminish players' confidence in the server, cause server crashes, or even force servers to be upgraded for better redundancy and resilience against future attacks.

Evidence of an Attack

This checklist serves as a handy reference guide when facing suspicious network activities that resemble DDoS attacks.

Symptom Description
Sudden spikes in traffic Sudden spikes in traffic patterns can be a strong indicator of DDoS activity, as they often involve a large volume of traffic or packets.
Port congestion A surge in traffic to specific ports on the network infrastructure can also be indicative of DDoS activity.
Too many requests Too many connection requests from an IP or IP range, as detected by a rate-limiter, can signal DDoS activity or brute force attempts, among others.
Increased resource use DDoS attacks place an overwhelming demand on server resources such as CPU and RAM.
Unusually slow network Following sudden spikes or bursts, network connection may take a hit and become unusually slow, grossly affecting gameplay.
Unresponsiveness Depending on the site or type of attack, players may experience latency and lags, and become unable to perform in-game actions, interact with their biomes, or chat.
Unavailability Intensive or extensive DDoS attacks may overwhelm a server's resources, forcing it to go offline or crash.
Widespread complaints Widespread complaints within the Minecraft community can indicate that a major DDoS attack is simultaneously targeting multiple servers.
Increased billing Minecraft server owners on pay-as-you-go plans may notice a sudden spike in their compute bills or subscription fees.

If several of these signs converge at any given time for your Minecraft server, there's a high probability that a DDoS attack is underway and requires immediate remediation.

If you're not sure whether an attack is occurring, contact your ISP or host. They should be able to verify whether it's a DDoS attack or not. In some cases, these signs could be symptoms of other cyberattacks or unrelated network issues, and will thus yield false positive results.

Impact on Minecraft Servers and the Minecraft Community

DDoS attacks significantly affect Minecraft servers, players, server owners, and the entire community. Disruption of gameplay isn't the only concern. An attack leading to a player missing out on significant tournament earnings, has, in extreme cases, resulted in tragic outcomes with profound emotional impacts, rippling through the community and reaching friends and family. This emphasizes the need for robust protection and awareness.

DDoS attacks on Minecraft servers can have numerous impacts:

  • Poor gaming experience: DDoS attacks cause latency, lag, or disconnections, making Minecraft unplayable and negatively impacting the user experience.
  • Gameplay imbalance: Rival players might exploit unresponsive servers during a DDoS attack to unfairly gain an advantage for themselves over players on the targeted servers.
  • Server downtime: Crucial for online games, server downtime from intense DDoS attacks makes Minecraft servers unavailable, frustrating players who invest time, effort, energy, and passion in building, exploring, and interacting within the Minecraft environment.
  • Financial losses: DDoS attacks lead to potential revenue loss for server owners relying on donations, premium memberships, or in-game purchases. Attackers may demand a fee to scale back the attack, but complying with ransom demands invites future attacks.
  • Extra expenses: Yo-yo DDoS attacks create traffic fluctuations, increasing overhead costs for cloud-hosted servers.
  • Identity theft: DDoS may be a smokescreen for hacking and identity theft, increasing vulnerability during server unavailability.
  • Server ban for innocent parties: Persistent DDoS attacks on shared hosting plans can result in temporary bans for Minecraft servers, impacting both server members and server owners who depend on member revenues for financial support.
  • Reputational damage: Persistent DDoS attacks damage the reputation of a Minecraft server, leading to a decline in the server's popularity and user base.
  • Community fallout: Persistent DDoS attacks can result in the breakup of Minecraft servers, fracturing social interactions and prompting players to leave.
  • Switching costs: Gamers face tangible and intangible costs when moving to a new server, including the loss of in-game purchases and achievements, subscriptions, and relationships.

Examples of Recent Attacks

Most Minecraft server DDoS attacks never make it to the news. A lot of small-scale attacks hit personal or private servers for the reasons discussed above. However, larger-scale DDoS attacks are more likely to create press because of their value as a marketing strategy for DDoS protection providers or because of the real-life consequences that result from the attack.

The largest ever Minecraft DDoS attack targeted the popular Wynncraft Minecraft server in 2022. A Mirai botnet variant launched a two-minute long 2.5 Tbps attack using UDP and TCP flood packets to attack the server, aiming to disrupt gameplay for hundreds of thousands of players.

Massive attacks on this scale—and the many more attacks on private and smaller servers that attract less attention—highlight the need to be wary of Minecraft DDoS attacks. It is therefore essential for server owners, admins, engineers, and hosting providers to protect their servers and the users who rely on them. Let's explore some methods for DDoS mitigation.

Obsidian Walls: How to Protect Minecraft Servers Against DDoS Attacks

Basic Protective Measures

To defend your Minecraft server against DDoS attacks, begin with basic security measures:

  • Install antivirus software to block malware that could enlist your server into a botnet.
  • Use a VPN to obscure your server's IP address.
  • Secure your SSH connection by modifying the SSH port number or switching to key-generated SSH security using PuTTY.
  • Implement allowlists or whitelists to permit access only to verified players, and use blacklists to block malicious IPs or players.
  • Get a firewall, especially for self-hosted servers.
  • Incorporate rate limiting on network devices to manage traffic flow.
  • Keep your Minecraft server software and plugins up-to-date to patch vulnerabilities.

It's important to stay current on the latest DDoS tactics, signs, and countermeasures, and ensure server moderators are also well-informed. Building a strong, supportive community, and promoting a positive gaming environment by vetting new members and monitoring forum chats for threats, can deter peer-to-peer DDoS attacks. In cases of serious threats, don't hesitate to involve law enforcement or seek legal assistance.

Advanced Protective Measures

The above protective measures are baseline cybersecurity solutions; for comprehensive defense against DDoS attacks, a specialized approach like Gcore DDoS Protection is required. We offer real-time, all-in-one protection against DDoS attacks of any size, duration, or complexity, ensuring uninterrupted gaming. Built by gamers, for gamers, Gcore DDoS Protection provides tailored defense mechanisms, ultra-low false positive rate, and dedicated technical support, ensuring your Minecraft server remains protected every time, everywhere, in every situation.

By analyzing traffic and customizing protection strategies, we safeguard your server across all Minecraft versions and plugins. Our powerful infrastructure is capable of handling massive DDoS traffic spikes with a 110 Tbps capacity CDN. We block attacks from the very first query without compromising legitimate traffic, based on session rather than solely relying on IP addresses.

Diamond Defense: Proven Gaming Protection

Prevention is better than a cure. The gaming industry is one of the top three most attacked industries according to Gcore Radar and the FBI, and the average gaming DDoS attack costs victims upwards of $25,000 in losses, without factoring in any ransoms. Even for teams with in-house IT units, an attack may require significant time and labor to effect disaster recovery, and much more time to repair a reputation tarnished by unmitigated DDoS attacks.

Gcore DDoS Protection is a complete, proven service for mitigating DDoS attacks on Minecraft servers. Get a complimentary expert consultation and discover how we can protect your server and save you from the devastating consequences of DDoS attacks. Start with a free trial to experience the power of Gcore DDoS Protection for yourself.

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