Utilizing Content Delivery Networks (CDNs) as A Defense Against Cyberattacks in The Gaming Industry
Delivering successful and consistent game content and patches has been a challenge for today’s game developers and publishers. As technology used by gaming platforms (console, mobile, or PC) are improving, and the demand for better gameplay and visuals is escalating, the size of game downloads are rapidly increasing. One single game contains various assets including textures, images, models, videos, and audios, and the size of these assets varies from hundreds of megabytes for mobile games to tens of gigabytes for PC or console games. For users with slow internet connection, downloading game clients and content updates can be a pain and disrupt their pre-gaming experience.
The Role of CDNs in The Gaming Industry
Content delivery networks (CDNs) come as a solution for game companies to solve these issues by improving the speed and performance of game downloads, updates, and patches. A CDN boosts download speed by caching content through multiple points of presence (PoPs) across the globe. These PoPs eliminate the distance between origin servers and end users.
Take the experience of David and Chris, gamers from Indonesia, as an example of how CDNs work. David requested for game content from Jakarta. A CDN server in Indonesia received the request and pulled the game content from its origin server in Seattle, the US. The CDN server then cached the content and delivered it to David. Next, Chris also requested for the same game content. As the requested content had been cached, the CDN server could directly deliver it to Chris. From then on, gamers in Jakarta could keep downloading the content even when the server went down and so long as the CDN server's cache hadn't expired. This is how using a CDN can result in a massive decrease in page load times.
CDNs for Cybersecurity
Besides speeding up download times and ensuring consistent gaming performance, CDNs provide other benefits for game companies including cybersecurity. CDNs help game companies defend themselves from cyberattacks including Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack, one of the most popular types of cyberattacks to the gaming industry. A DDoS attack is a malicious attempt to disrupt the normal traffic of a targeted server, service, or network by overwhelming the target or its surrounding infrastructure with a flood of Internet traffic, so the targets can’t adequately respond to legitimate traffic. A DDoS attack takes advantage of using multiple infected devices across different IP addresses to deliver an attack at a large scale. Due to the large volume of devices contributing to the attack, DDoS is considered difficult to overcome.
The gaming industry recorded 35.92% of the total DDoS attacks in 2019. According to Akamai Technologies, more than 3,000 of the 5,600 unique DDoS attacks they observed between July 2019 and June 2020 were aimed at gaming, making it the most-targeted sector at that time. Such attacks can ruin a company's reputation, so multi-layer protection is important.
Due to its nature, CDNs pose the capability to redistribute traffic when needed which makes them a great defense against DDoS attacks. If a game is being targeted by a DDoS attack, a CDN will help ensure the attack doesn’t reach the origin server and cause the game to be completely unavailable. If a server is hit with more traffic than it can handle, a CDN simply sends the traffic to other servers. The game won’t experience any downtime, and users won’t notice a thing. Moreover, most CDN platforms also implement layered security protocols for traffic encryption and protection against third party access.
CDNs can be an ideal solution for game developers and publishers to successfully deliver core downloads and patches to their users, as well as prevent download failures and server crashes, creating a better gaming experience for their users. User satisfaction will increase the brand value and trustworthiness of a game company.