For the most part, only IT security people worry about DDoS attacks. Except for last October’s attack on Dyn, which impacted hundreds of websites such as NetFlix, Twitter and Reddit, most consumers are blithely unaffected by the relentless tide of DDoS attacks that afflict various organizations across various sectors. But because of the recent spate of DDoS attacks on Bitcoin platforms (most notably Bitfinix and Coinbase) in the past couple of weeks, some ordinary consumers have grown aware of this cyber threat. The DDoS attacks have shut down or limited some Bitcoin cryptocurrency exchanges, which makes it difficult or impossible for Bitcoin cryptocurrency traders to access or trade their Bitcoin digital cryptocurrency. This is frustrating for traders, of course.
Another key difference between these Bitcoin attacks and the Dyn attack was that the Dyn attack lasted only several hours, whereas the Bitcoin attacks have hit several exchanges over several months or weeks. With thousands, or millions, of traders engaged with Bitcoin platforms, those cryptocurrency exchanges probably feel pressure from their dissatisfied customers, and thus recognize the crucial importance of DDoS protection.
The Repercussions of DDoS Attacks
When an online game goes offline due to a DDoS attack, players cannot make trades. Gamers get angry because they are playing for high stakes money and/or reputation; they leave the site, and as a result the gaming company loses revenue. Similarly, Bitcoin traders get angry when they can’t trade their cryptocurrency. The traders may want to buy more or sell their cryptocurrency but they can’t because the Bitcoin site is not functioning. Two things happen as a result: 1) the value of the currency goes down, and 2) traders are likely to change to different trading platform as soon as possible. Website downtime is bad for the Bitcoin business in terms of lost revenue and tarnished brand reputation. However, the stakes are higher in the Bitcoin world, because trading is not a game or hobby (though some might consider it play money), and it impacts people’s financial assets. Cryptocurrency trading is not simply a game like Minecraft or Blizzard.
Simultaneously, some Bitcoin exchanges are suffering performance and availability issues because their digital infrastructure is not as robust as say, NASDAQ, to handle the high volume in Bitcoin trades that have been happening due to the dramatic rise in Bitcoin value. Overall, the digital cryptocurrency industry is facing two big cyber challenges, both of which affect website availability: system infrastructure capacity, and DDoS attacks. Cryptocurrency exchanges can take steps to solve both problems, but will they deploy DDoS protection in the near future? The answer to that question is a bit (pardon the pun) unpredictable. More people than ever are waiting to find out.