If you’ve been having trouble connecting to online services on that brand new game or console you picked up for Christmas, don’t worry – you’re not alone. Without proper explanation from the parties responsible for the latest attacks on gaming, the PlayStation Network and Xbox LIVE were rendered unusable for the majority of gamers yesterday, but are slowly restoring service over the last few hours.

According to user reports, and global internet attack data available on Norse, the United States will continue to undergo attacks from many sources globally but the variety of attacks show how things are changing for the gaming networks. As in yesterday’s case, the “isakmp” style of DDoS attacks are now at one quarter of their peak in yesterday’s downtime, but what does this mean?

First, DDoS translates directly to “Distributed Denial of Service”, where attacks against a computer or network of computers are made by force. In this method of attack against a network, the world’s most common type of attack, servers are attacked by overloading them with requests. Sending hundreds of thousands of blank requests, these servers will seize up simply sorting requests despite their lack of content.

While evaluating deeper, the attack on these networks this Christmas focuses on their authentication systems, according to the Norse data. By attacking the “isakmp” [Internet Security Association and Key Management Protocol], security protocols are left overloaded with DDoS data, left to sort out the mess and not allowing legitimate requests to authenticate with servers. Using isakmp, servers are much less likely to lose your important and secured data as these security protocols serve as a double authentication method, and the theft of your data can’t be hidden by DDoS attacks as was the issue with the Sony network some years ago. These attacks must come via UDP [User Datagram Protocol] on port 500, and offer no data error correction, making it an ideal target when you’re not looking to get a real answer returned from the server, such as in DDoS.

We can see the attacks ongoing on Norse and other similar global network monitoring services show these types of attacks ongoing, so don’t expect perfect services, but as attackers have moved on to Telnet style attacks predominately, at least gaming is getting a break today. Look forward to relief on your gaming networks as the day continues.