As more game streamers have started to emerge as internet and gaming personalities there has been a worrying increase in “Swatting” and DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) attacks. An important debate yet to emerge from these humanity-sapping events is what more can be done to protect streamers from the impacts of malicious viewers.
What are the problems?
Swatting is a well-known, dangerous and illegal action that has been carried out on many game streamers in recent years. By definition swatting is the act of tricking emergency services into deploying an emergency response team based on a false incident report. Kootra, Koopa and McJuggerNuggets are just a trio of famous game streamers within the last year who have been held at gun point in response to stream viewers swatting them.
Image source: http://www.thedenverchannel.com/news/local-news/parents-warned-of-active-shooter-near-broadway-and-mineral
DDoS attacks are less severe in that they “only” take a stream offline, making it unviewable to a particular streamer’s fans. DDoS attacks usually overload the location a stream is being sent from depriving the streamer of the ability to connect with their fans and earn a living, since streaming is often their primary job.
What can be done?
Swatting arguably falls beyond the realm of streaming services like Twitch and into the hands of law makers and enforcement agencies. The penalties for swatting should be made more severe and communicated more effectively to act as strong deterrent. Most importantly, more swatters need to be prosecuted to set an example to others wishing to follow the same lurid path.
Image source: http://www.kotaku.com.au/2013/12/hackers-claim-takedown-of-battlenet-league-of-legends-eacom/
DDoS attacks can be more effectively prevented by streaming services like Twitch. Typically, attackers claim to have retrieved the IP address of a streamer through Twitch’s services, be that the direct IP or inferred from an email address. Twitch must take greater care to encrypt and protect such information as well as avoid collecting it when unnecessary. Twitch should also take measures to inform streamers of how their IP address might be exposed and how they can prevent DDoS attacks.
While game streaming is meant to be a fun escape from reality for gamers, there are still very real consequences for streamers that need to be tackled before things get out of hand.