Tag Archives: denial of service

Denying the deniers: how to effectively tackle DDoS attacks

DDoS as an attack vector is on the rise: here’s how to stop it from stopping your business. Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks maybe as old as the hills but they continue to be a popular, and highly effective, attack vector for hackers. In the past couple of months alone we have seen a persistent  DDoS attack  on the UK academic computer network JANET, which was swiftly followed by one against cloud hosting company Linode, leading to service interruptions at DNS infrastructure and data centers across the U.S. and the U.K. Indeed, recent research released by Arbor Networks in its  Annual Worldwide Infrastructure Security Report  stated that DDoS attacks are on the rise, with half of the 354 global respondents’ data centers suffering DDoS attacks – a 33% increase from 2014. DDoS attacks have increased in frequency for some time – giving hackers a relatively uncomplicated method to bring a website down or disrupt a web service. Although DDoS attacks do not involve the stealing of data, they can be highly damaging in other ways, not least by affecting the trust and reputation that a company has among its customers. This can lead to financial damage through lost customers and lost business. Moreover, DDoS attacks can be used as a diversionary smokescreen for more aggressive attacks, as was the case with the recent  TalkTalk breach. So what can organisations do to help protect themselves against the threat of DDoS and mitigate the effects of such attacks? The first step is being able to quickly detect that you are under attack, and having a procedure in place to deal with it. Illegitimate traffic can be hard to distinguish from legitimate traffic, but the typical signs of a DDoS attack are a sharp increase in traffic to your website followed by a slowing down of performance (there are services that can continuously monitor your website’s responsiveness from an external point of view, such as Dynatrace and SolarWinds.) Once a DDoS attack is underway, you have a number of options in terms of dealing with the bombardment: ISP blocking and scrubbing – It is advisable to deal with the attack in an environment that’s removed from your network, to prevent it from affecting other areas of network performance. If you suffer a DDoS attack contact your internet service provider, as many offer DDoS protection services such as blocking the originating IP addresses or ‘scrubbing’ malicious packets. They will also probably have greater bandwidth than you and are therefore likely to be able to deal with the attack more efficiently and effectively. Blackholing – A common response to a DDoS attack is to simply route all website traffic into a black hole, thus taking the website offline until the attack ceases. The problem with this approach is that it blocks all traffic, both good and bad, which basically means that the hacker has achieved their objective. Routers and firewalls – You can set up routers and firewalls policies to filter non-critical protocols, block invalid IP addresses and shut off access to specific high-risk segments of your network in the event of an attack. However, be aware that these techniques are somewhat ineffective against more sophisticated attacks that use spoofing or valid IP addresses. Content delivery network – Using a content delivery network to create replicas of your website for customers in different locations can help reduce the impact of the DDoS attack as well as make the extra DDoS related traffic easier to combat. Anti-DDoS technology – Many of the leading firewall appliance vendors offer specialised anti-DDoS modules, that can be deployed at the perimeter of your network or data center, which are designed to detect and filter malicious traffic. However, these are not automated and need to be constantly managed and updated by your operations team. While there is no single ‘silver bullet’ solution that can stop a DDoS attack in its tracks once the traffic starts hitting your website, you can lessen its impact on your business by using a combination of the methods I’ve outlined here. As DDoS continues to be used as a cyber-weapon against websites and online resources, organisations should ensure that they have a response plan in place that includes these mitigation techniques, to help deny attempted denial-of-service attacks. Source: http://www.information-age.com/technology/security/123460891/denying-deniers-how-effectively-tackle-ddos-attacks#sthash.HM41ehWS.dpuf

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Denying the deniers: how to effectively tackle DDoS attacks

World’s Largest DDoS Attack Breaks Records, Clocks At Massive 500 Gbps

In its latest Worldwide Infrastructure Security Report, Arbor Networks reports on the biggest distributed denial of service attack, which had a whopping load of 500 Gbps. The previous largest DDoS attack was of “only” 300 Gbps. It involved young aspiring hacker Seth Nolan-Mcdonagh, who temporarily took down SpamHaus’ webpage. In some cases, the attacks are carried out by state-funded organizations instead of individuals. Last year, GitHub went down after it suffered a DDoS attack, and the main suspect was China, which has a tumultuous history with the software repository. The programming website was even blocked by the Chinese authorities for a short amount of time. The yearly Arbor survey uses data from hosts, mobile service providers and service providers. The survey, which ran until November 2015, got the results based on the 354 global participants who answered questions on network safety specifically about protocols used for reflection/amplification. “The largest attack reported by a respondent this year was 500Gbps, with other respondents reporting attacks of 450Gbps, 425Gbps, and 337Gbps,” the report states. This marks a worrying trend among top-end size DDoS attacks, which get more ambitious every year. The security firm has the numbers to back this statement up. In the previous report, Arbor discovered that one-fifth of respondents got slammed with attacks that topped 50 Gbps. This year’s survey shows a hefty increase, as a quarter of respondents talk of attacks that go more than 100 Gbps. While only five respondents found evidence of DDoS attacks topping 200 Gbps, there were many reports of attacks between 100 and 200 Gbps. Arbor Networks points out that cloud-based services are increasingly becoming tempting targets, as they now make up 33 percent of attacks. Another staple of last year’s hacking attempts is the exploitation of weaknesses in the network time protocol. Reflection and amplification attacks can easily make use of the soft spots in the security infrastructure, leading to significant damages. As a countermeasure, servers keep receiving updates and security patches that should (in theory) keep them safe from attackers who gain a large response to a small query and use it towards a target of their choosing. “[S]ecurity is a human endeavor and there are skilled adversaries on both sides,” Darren Anstee, chief security technologist at Arbor Networks, says. An interesting shift exists in the DDoS attackers’ motivation: the perpetrators no longer seem to find joy in hacktivism or vandalism. Unlike in previous years, extorting the victims and banking on the vulnerabilities of network systems now seem to be the prevalent reasons. In order to accomplish this, they use multi-vector simultaneous attacks which plow through applications, services and infrastructure. A vast majority of respondents identified application-layer DDoS attacks, which targeted DNS services instead of Web servers. Looking at the larger picture, multi-vector attacks counted for 56 percent of customer outages, up from 42 percent in the previous year. More than 50 percent of the respondents told Arbor that DDoS attacks go after the inline firewalls and bring down the internet connectivity. Arbor explains that these devices are the first to fall in case of a DDoS attack and underlines that being inline can greatly add to network latency. Source: http://www.techtimes.com/articles/128260/20160127/worlds-largest-ddos-attack-breaks-records-clocks-at-massive-500-gbps-worldwide-infrastructure-security-report.htm

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World’s Largest DDoS Attack Breaks Records, Clocks At Massive 500 Gbps

Telephonic DoS tied to Ukraine power grid takedown

More information is being revealed regarding the late December attack on the Ukrainian power grid with reports indicating the attack on the utility was supported by a simultaneous telephonic denial of service (DoS)incident. The Ukrainian DoS attack took out the company’s call center so its customers could not call and let workers know that service was being disrupted, according to a published report. A telephonic DoS attack works in the same manner as one hitting a computer system, but in this case a call center is overwhelmed with calls to shut it down. In addition, with the telephone system down the utility company staffers could not communicate effectively to fix the problem. Telephonic DoS attacks can be used to obfuscate any type of attack to attract an IT department’s attention while the real assault takes place against another segment of the network. Source: http://www.scmagazine.com/telephonic-dos-tied-to-ukraine-power-grid-takedown/article/467076/

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Telephonic DoS tied to Ukraine power grid takedown

Data center outages increasingly caused by DDoS

While overall unplanned data center outages have decreased, those that were the result of targeted DDoS attacks have skyrocketed. Think housing your servers in a data center rather than squeezing them under your desk is a bulletproof solution? Well, they might be safer in a data center, but believe it or not, some of the same pitfalls that can create trouble in the office can affect those secure data centers too. Namely UPS failure, human error, and cybercrime. ‘Unplanned’ UPS system failure is still the principal cause of “unplanned data center outages,” according to a new report. A quarter of all such events were related to UPS systems and batteries, according to Emerson Network Power in association with Ponemon Institute. The two organizations have been studying the cost of unplanned data center outages. Cybercrime But cybercrime-caused outages, specifically Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks, constituted a whopping 22% of the unplanned disruptions last year. That’s up from just 2% in 2010 and 18% in 2013, the last times the two organizations performed the survey. The survey collected responses from 63 data center operations who had observed an outage in the prior about year about what exactly happened. The report was published this month. Root causes Accidental causes or human error were the third biggest cause of unplanned outages, according to the report. Those mishaps caused 22% of the failures. That’s the same percentage as in 2013, but lower than in 2010, when 24% of outages were accidental or human-caused. Interestingly, many other causes of outages are lower now than they were in 2010 and 2013. They’ve been usurped by cybercrime’s huge gain. UPS failure is down slightly on 2010, when it accounted for 29% of the outages. And the aforementioned human error is down a bit. And utility failure, such as water, heat, and Computer Room Air Conditioning, which today makes up just 11% of the outages, was at 15% in 2010. Generators Likewise, generators appear to have become more reliable. Those systems contributed to 10% of the failures in 2010, whereas today they only make up 6%. The researchers don’t provide numbers relating to changing data center design over the period. Fewer generators in use—replaced by solar and alternative energy—could conceivably have caused that statistical decline. The report doesn’t specify. Weather Overall, most unplanned outage causes—including those caused by weather, which accounted for 10% of outages this year, compared to 12% in 2010 and 2013—have declined in favor of cybercrime. Even IT failure, a measly 4% of failures today, dropped from 5% in 2010. About $9K per minute And the cost? The report was released to expound on the cost of the outages, rather than to apportion blame. Well, the “average total cost per minute of an unplanned outage increased from $5,617 in 2010 to $7,908 in 2013 to $8,851 now,” according to the report. Downtime at data centers now costs an average of $740,357. That’s a 38% increase on 2010, the study calculates. And maximum costs are even higher. “Maximum downtime costs are rising faster than average, increasing 81% since 2010 to a current high of $2,409,991,” the report says. Source: http://www.networkworld.com/article/3024773/data-center/data-center-outages-increasingly-caused-by-ddos.html

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Data center outages increasingly caused by DDoS

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Author of MegalodonHTTP DDoS Malware Arrested in Norway

Hacker was arrested one month ago in Europol operation Norway’s law enforcement authorities have identified a previously arrested suspect as the author of the MegalodonHTTP malware, used for infecting computers and adding them to a botnet used for DDoS attacks. The yet unnamed suspect, known only by his online moniker of Bin4ry, was arrested in December 2015 , during the second stage of Operation Falling sTAR, launched in October 2015 against users of RATs (Remote Access Trojans). During this second phase of the operation, Europol authorities coordinated the arrests of 12 individuals in France, Norway and Romania. Five of the suspects were arrested in Norway. Damballa helped authorities track down MegalodonHTTP’s author A big part in arrest played US cyber-security vendor Damballa, who helped Europol break down the botnet’s activities, and then worked with Norwegian authorities to track down the malware’s author. “We are not at liberty to divulge the MegalodonHTTP author’s real identity, but we can confirm that the person behind the handle Bin4ry is no longer active or doing business,” said Loucif Kharouni, Senior Threat Researcher for Damaballa. Damballa’s team analyzed the MegalodonHTTP malware in late November 2015, as the malware was starting to become more prevalent on the Dark Web, being sold in two separate packages, one that cost $35, and the second that cost $100. Damballa: MegalodonHTTP is not an advanced malware The malware was sold both from Dark Web hacking forums, but also from the now defunct bina4ry.com domain, and came equipped with an automated installer and administration panel, so even skids (script kiddies) could use it, without possessing advanced technical in advance. According to Bin4ry’s description of MegalodonHTTP, the malware was capable of launching seven types of DDoS attacks, remote shells on infected machines, included Bitcoin mining features, but also had the option to kill antivirus processes. At the time of their analysis, Damaballa researchers said that despite being quite potent in terms of features, the malware was not the work of a skilled coder, worked only on Windows machines, and needed the .NET Framework installed, which narrowed the number of machines it could work from. MegalodonHTTP DDoS botnet administration panel Source: http://news.softpedia.com/news/author-of-megalodonhttp-ddos-malware-arrested-in-norway-498981.shtml

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Author of MegalodonHTTP DDoS Malware Arrested in Norway

DDoS Defense: Better Traction in Tandem?

DDoS attacks are nothing new, but they remain the nemesis of many IT departments in organizations big and small. Why? Because attacks can come from any source, use multiple protocols, leverage massive botnets and often aren’t detected until it’s too late. According to SecurityWeek, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is now developing a new kind of DDoS defense, one based on collaboration rather than isolation. But can companies really get better security traction in tandem rather than acting alone? Big Numbers, Big Problems As noted by Dark Reading, DDoS attacks “are growing in frequency, size, severity, sophistication and even persistence each year.” Since there’s no single vector for these attacks — coupled with the fact that many look like server or network failures at first glance — it’s no wonder both small companies and large enterprises are getting hit, and hit often. Consider Rutgers University: In 2015, the institution faced six separate DDoS events. Financial institutions and government organizations faced many more, both attempted and successful, because the mechanism for attacks remains simple: Malicious actors need only reliable botnets and solid connections to launch a full-scale effort. The speed and simplicity of DDoS attacks is also encouraging malicious actors to ramp up their efforts. According to BetaNews, for example, the BBC was hit with a massive attack on New Year’s Eve that — if the attackers themselves are telling the truth — reached a maximum of 602 Gbps. That’s almost double the size of the current DDoS record holder at 334 Gbps. The group responsible, called New World Hacking, also targeted Donald Trump’s website and said it had plans to go after ISIS-related sites, although it claimed the BBC attack was merely a test and not intended to bring the site down for hours. Some security pros said the group may be targeting high-profile sites in an effort to promote its in-house DDoS tool, BangStresser. Stopping Traffic With DDoS Defense With DDoS tools and hacking-as-a-service now available for purchase at virtually any Dark Web marketplace and effectively being advertised through public attacks, companies are understandably concerned. Even when caught midstream, it’s difficult to respond before servers start failing and other, more sophisticated attacks take aim at critical corporate data. As a result, dealing with DDoS has become a top priority for organizations like the DHS, which just awarded a $1.7 million contract to tech company Galois in hopes of strengthening DDoS defense. The biggest news from the announcement is the development of a new project called DDoS Defense for a Community of Peers (3DCoP), which uses a peer-to-peer mechanism that allows organizations to work together and collectively defeat DDoS attacks. The thinking here is that since many companies and institutions are often targeted by similar attacks, a coordinated response increases the chance of early detection and swift response, in turn lowering overall damage. Historically, businesses have been reluctant to share attack data or collaborate on defense for fear of giving away trade security secrets or seeming weak in comparison to other companies. The high-volume, high-impact nature of DDoS attacks, however, make this an untenable position; users don’t care about protecting company pride if the result is reduced compute performance or total server failure. If the DHS effort works as intended, however, organizations should be able to collectively tap the power of the combined whole and get better traction on DDoS defense. In other words, a steady security climb instead of spinning wheels. Source: https://securityintelligence.com/news/ddos-defense-better-traction-in-tandem/

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DDoS Defense: Better Traction in Tandem?

A DDoS Learning Curve for Universities, Government & Enterprises

Distributed Denial of Service attacks are easy, cheap and too often, effective. But they’re not unstoppable. There’s no getting around it — DDoS attacks are growing in frequency, size, severity, sophistication, and even persistence each year. These tenacious, effective attacks can last anywhere from hours to months. They can be launched from botnets, use multiple protocols, and even disguise themselves with SSL encryption. Protecting yourself against DDoS isn’t a matter of stopping one attack but a multitude, sometimes all at once. Even worse, IT departments may not realize an attack is underway, thinking a failing server or application is responsible. Rutgers University, for example, recently fell prey to its sixth known DDoS attack in a single year — and Rutgers is not an outlier. Thousands of DDoS attacks hit universities, enterprises, government organizations, and banks every day—some successful, some not. One thing is for sure: no one is safe, and attacks will continue because DDoS attacks are easy, cheap and, too often, effective. But they’re not unstoppable. Universities and other organizations can take steps to prepare for and minimize the effect of even the most sophisticated assaults: Step 1. Have a good monitoring system in place Security teams have many ways to get insight into their network, including flow sampling, in-path detection and mirrored data packets. Here’s a brief breakdown of the pluses and minuses: Flow sampling: The router samples packets and exports datagrams on them. While scalable, this method leaves out large quantities of information because it only samples one packet out of thousands. This allows some “slow and low” attacks to fly under the detection radar, or take a long time to trigger an alert. In-path detection:  A high-performance DDoS mitigation device continuously processes all incoming traffic and possibly outgoing traffic. The device can take immediate action with sub-second mitigation times. One concern is ensuring the mitigation solution can scale with the uplink capacity during multi-vector attacks. Mirrored data packets: Full detail for analysis is provided, while not necessarily in the path of traffic. This method can be a challenge to set up, but allows for fast detection of anomalies in traffic and is a centralized place for analysis and mitigation. Step 2. Keep an eye on performance metrics and scalability When it comes to DDoS, everything happens on a large scale: the number of attacking computers, the bandwidth they consume and the connections they generate. To fight back, organizations need a combination of high-performance, purpose-built hardware that can mitigate common, yet large-scale attacks effectively, and intelligent software that can inspect traffic at the highest packet rates. For instance, an effective combination might include leveraging dedicated network traffic processors (e.g. FPGAs) to handle the common network-layer attack in combination with powerful, multi-core CPUs to mitigate more complex application-layer attacks. What’s key here is to ensure there is enough processing headroom to prepare networks for future generations of DDoS attacks. Step 3. Invest in a security awareness program Mitigation of next-generation DDoS attacks starts with training — especially to recognize normal network behavior and spot anomalies. For instance, companies that have started their migration to IPv6 must have security specialists in place that know IPv6 well enough to recognize attacks when they happen, and then to know how to use available tools to properly fight them off. Proper training allows organizations to be proactive versus reactive. Security policies take time to devise, so universities and other organizations shouldn’t wait for the IT support staff to raise a red flag before they decide to take action. Source: http://www.darkreading.com/attacks-breaches/a-ddos-learning-curve-for-universities-government-and-enterprises-/a/d-id/1323879

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A DDoS Learning Curve for Universities, Government & Enterprises

Minnesota Courts Website Target Of DDoS Attacks

A week after the Minnesota courts website was completely shut down for 10 days in December, we’re finally finding out why. The Minnesota Judicial Branch says its website was the target of two distributed-denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks. In a DDoS attack, a website or server is overwhelmed with network traffic until it can no longer function for legitimate users. The MJB says the attacks in December left their site unusable to members of the public for several hours, and was eventually completely shut down from Dec. 21 to 31 in order to install additional safeguards. Officials say no personal data was breached as a result of the attack — DDoS attacks are typically used to sabotage a website or server , rather than steal information. Authorities say initial forensics show the attacks were primarily launched from servers in Asia and Canada, and international authorities are investigating. Source: http://minnesota.cbslocal.com/2016/01/08/minnesota-courts-website-target-of-ddos-attacks/

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Minnesota Courts Website Target Of DDoS Attacks

DDoS attack on BBC may have been biggest in history

Last week’s distributed denial of service attack against the BBC website may have been the largest in history. A group calling itself New World Hacking said that the attack reached 602Gbps. If accurate, that would put it at almost twice the size of the previous record of 334Gbps, recorded by Arbor Networks last year. “Some of this information still needs to be confirmed,” said Paul Nicholson, director of product marketing at A10 Networks, a security vendor that helps protect companies against DDoS attacks. “If it’s proven, it would be the largest attack on record. But it depends on whether it’s actually confirmed, because it’s still a relatively recent attack.” According to Nicholson, it sometimes happens that people who step forward and take credit for attacks turn out to be exaggerating. New World Hacking also said that the attack, which came on New Year’s Eve, was “only a test.” “We didn’t exactly plan to take it down for multiple hours,” the group told the BBC. New World Hacking also hit Donald Trump’s campaign website the same day, and said its main focus was to take down ISIS-affiliated websites. It’s common for hackers to go after high-profile media websites, but attacks against political websites are increasingly likely to be in the spotlight this year because of the U.S. election cycle, according to Raytheon|Websense CEO John McCormack. “The U.S. elections cycle will drive significant themed attacks,” he said. “This is just the beginning and it will get worse — and more personal — as candidates see their campaign apps hacked, Twitter feeds hijacked, and voters are targeted with very specific phishing attacks based on public data such as voter registration, Facebook and LinkedIn.” One possible reason to conduct a DDoS attack against a high-profile target such as the BBC or Donald Trump is marketing, said A10 Networks’ Nicholson. It seems that New World Hacking may be affiliated with an online DDoS tool called BangStresser, which delivers attacks as a service. Last year, a similar group, the Lizard Squad, conducted a marketing campaign for their DDoS service, the Lizard Stressor. “There are a lot of parallels here,” said A10 Networks’ product marketing manager Rene Paap. These services typically leverage botnets or use stolen payment cards to rent cloud-based servers, he said. Typically, the rented servers are used to run command and control servers. What’s unusual about New World Hacking is that they’re claiming to be using Amazon servers to generate actual attack bandwidth. “That is something new,” said Paap. “But it hasn’t been confirmed or denied yet.” Not all DDoS attack services are illegal, said Nicholson. “Some are offered as useful services to websites, to see if they can handle the load,” he said. Others fall squarely into the gray area, allowing cyber-terrorists, extortionists and digital vandals to launch attacks for a few hundred dollars each. “Some of them are quite inexpensive and configurable,” Nicholson said. “for example, you can have different attacks at different times, so that it’s harder to defend against them.” To protect themselves, Nicholson recommends that companies deploy a combination of on-premises and cloud-based solutions to handle attacks of varying types and sizes. “You need to be able to detect what’s going on, that there’s actually an attack,” he said. “And once you detect an attack, you need to be able to mitigate it as long as possible.” According to security vendor Netcraft, service to the BBC network was restored by using the Akamai content delivery network. Akamai declined to comment about this particular case. “As policy, the company isn’t commenting on specific situations,” said a spokesperson. Source: http://www.csoonline.com/article/3020292/cyber-attacks-espionage/ddos-attack-on-bbc-may-have-been-biggest-in-history.html

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DDoS attack on BBC may have been biggest in history

Valve Reveals Details About Christmas Issues, Personal Info Was Shown, DDoS Attack Involved

Christmas is usually a very busy time for Valve because of the major sales that the company has a habit of running on the Steam digital distribution system, and this year the company had to deal with a set of problems linked to the service and with the way the user base perceived them as an attack that had the potential to affect their personal data. In a new official site article, the studio delivers more information about what happened on December 25, saying that between 11:50 and 13:20 Pacific Standard Time store page requests for around 34,000 users, containing personal information, were seen by others. Valve admits, “The content of these requests varied by page, but some pages included a Steam user’s billing address, the last four digits of their Steam Guard phone number, their purchase history, the last two digits of their credit card number, and/or their email address. These cached requests did not include full credit card numbers, user passwords, or enough data to allow logging in as or completing a transaction as another user.” The company also delivers an apology to all those affected by the Christmas problem . Despite the fact that some sensitive information was shared with others, the company makes it clear that users have to take no further action because the Steam system does not allow for it. This means that even if there are plans to work with a third-party company and contact those affected once they have been identified, no action on their part is required to make sure that the accounts are safe. Valve also explains that the problem was created because of a DDoS attack that combined with increased Winter Sale traffic to affect the caching of pages and forced the company to take down the store and deal with the problem. The company makes it clear that such attacks have not managed to break its security and are routinely dealt with. Steam continues to dominate PC digital distribution Valve needs to maintain its services as secure as possible to keep it in the lead on the PC and to continue offering players a wide variety of video games and some spectacular price cuts on special occasions. The Winter Sale is running at the moment, with more than 10,000 video games offered at reduced prices each day and a set of special trading cards that gamers can earn and use to tweak their profile. In late 2015 Valve also introduced the Steam machines, created in collaboration with a wide variety of partners, and the special controller, which offers plenty of new options for PC gamers who want to stay away from their monitors or share a couch with friends. In 2016, the company is planning to also enter the virtual reality space with Vive, which is created in partnership with HTC and does not yet have an official launch date or an attached price. The device was expected to arrive before the end of 2015, but Valve decided to delay it because of a major tech-related breakthrough that’s supposed to improve the user experience once the headset is commercially available. Source: http://news.softpedia.com/news/valve-reveals-details-about-christmas-issues-personal-info-was-shown-ddos-attack-involved-498289.shtml

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Valve Reveals Details About Christmas Issues, Personal Info Was Shown, DDoS Attack Involved