Irish National Lottery plagued by DDoS attack


The Irish National Lottery has been hit by a DDoS attack, with hackers bringing down the website and ticket machines on the day of the biggest draw for the last 18 months.

Criminals were able to knock operator Premier Lotteries Ireland (PLI) offline for two hours on Wednesday, meaning customers trying to buy tickets for the 12 million (9 million) were unable to take part.

However, the organisers were undeterred, despite missing out on probably thousands of Euros of ticket sales and the midweek draw still went ahead. No one went on to win the lottery.

"Indications are that this morning's technical issues were as a result of a DDoS attack affecting our communications networks," a statement from PLI said.

"The issues were resolved by the National Lottery's DDoS protection systems, limiting disruption and restoring all operations within two hours. This incident is still under investigation. However, we can confirm that at no point was the National Lottery gaming system or player data affected."

Security commentators said it wasn't surprising a lottery website was attacked, because they naturally see peaks of traffic at certain times - especially when there's a much larger jackpot than usual - which puts extra pressure on the IT infrastructure behind such websites and systems naturally.

Adding a DDoS attack on top, even if it's not serious, will cause the site to crash much sooner than a website that has been designed to deal with a high volume of requests at all times.

However, John Graham-Cumming at DDoS-protection company Cloudflare told the BBC the thing to note was the machines used to issue lottery tickets were also affected, meaning there was no way anyone could purchase a ticket for the draw.

"They said you couldn't buy tickets from the ticket machines, which is really interesting, it's not just the website - it would be quite interesting to understand why that happened," he said.

Clare Hopping
Freelance writer

Clare is the founder of Blue Cactus Digital, a digital marketing company that helps ethical and sustainability-focused businesses grow their customer base.

Prior to becoming a marketer, Clare was a journalist, working at a range of mobile device-focused outlets including Know Your Mobile before moving into freelance life.

As a freelance writer, she drew on her expertise in mobility to write features and guides for ITPro, as well as regularly writing news stories on a wide range of topics.