Pokemon Go servers keep crashing, infuriating fans as the app becomes the most popular U.S. mobile game ever. A group of hackers that calls itself “PoodleCorp” claimed responsibility for the widespread server crashes over the July 16-17 weekend.
More recently, on October 21, some theorized that the shadowy hacking group could be responsible for the massive DDoS cyber attack that crashed numerous popular Internet sites, especially in the eastern United States. However, responsibility for that attack is unclear.
On Sunday, July 17, Wales Online summed up crashes in Europe and the United States, saying: “Oh no! It’s happened again – the Pokemon GO servers have crashed for the second time.”
Frustrated users around the world sometimes encounter this message: “We are working to resolve the issue. Please try again soon!” The CEO of the game’s developer, John Hanke, said the company wasn’t completely prepared for the level of interest, saying, “We thought the game would be popular, but it obviously struck a nerve.”
What’s PoodleCorp and is the group really behind all of these attacks?
Here’s what you need to know:
1. The Group Posted on Twitter About Both the October 21 Attack & the Pokemon Go Crash
When servers went down on July 16, PoodleCorp posted a tweet that some interpreted as taking credit for the crash. “The group appears to have ‘claimed responsibility’ for the crash,” said UK Mirror. The group has more than 91,000 followers on Twitter.
Although neither claim has been verified, PoodleCorp also made a cryptic tweet referring to the October 21 cyber hack.
Later in the day, though, Cybersecurity firm Flashpoint traced Friday’s widespread internet outage to the Internet of Things, according to cybersecurity expert Brian Krebs. Read more about that here.
The massive crash on October 21 disabled many popular online sites, including Twitter, Reddit, Netflix, PayPal, and others. Homeland Security is investigating, and the cause has not been determined, although some online conspiracy theorists have pointed the finger at Russia or even the U.S. government.
UK Independent cautions that the hacking claims have not been verified.
The servers crashed on July 16 across the United States and Europe, reported The Guardian. The game app’s developers said the problem was fixed, said UK Mirror, indicating: “The issues causing the server problems have been identified.” However, servers were down again Sunday, July 17, said The Mirror.
The Independent calls PoodleCorp a “cyber collective.” Reddit has several threads discussing PoodleCorp theories. The identities of the people behind PoodleCorp are not known, although the hacking group has a website where it claims hacks.
2. PoodleCorp May Have Used a ‘Playstation-Style DDoS Attack’ to Crash the Pokemon Go Game & Has Targeted YouTubers in the Past, Reports Say
The Independent describes how the hack works this way: “A DDOS, or Distributed Denial of Service, is a way troublemakers crash servers by flooding them with so many requests every second that they cannot cope.”
Gearnuke explains that DDoS hacks have targeted other devices in the past, saying: “PSN, Xbox Live and many other services have been victims of the attacks in the past.” Gearnuke says PoodleCorp has gone after online targets before, saying, “The group has been recently taking down YouTubers like H3H3Productions and Pewdiepie but apparently now have set their sights on Pokemon GO.”
Hackread says PoodleCorp also “previously hacked YouTube accounts of WatchMojo, Redmercy, Lilly Singh and Leafyishere.”
Upset users criticized PoodleCorp for the small stakes of the supposed hack:
Pokemon Go’s popularity has surged to millions of daily users, surpassing other gaming apps, like Candy Crush Saga.
3. The App’s Developer Denied the Server Is Crashing Because of Hacking & Others Agreed
It might be that the game’s developers just didn’t anticipate the unprecedented level of demand for the game and that PoodleCorp is taking advantage of that problem for publicity and notoriety. The Pokemon Go app is a creation of Niantic and is partly owned by Nintendo. iDigitalTimes thinks the hacker claims are suspect, writing, “It is more likely that the servers went down because Niantic released the game in more countries before the servers were stable.”
“App developer Niantic says it’s simply down due to an overwhelming number of downloads,” UK Mirror concurred. Gearnuke adds that it’s not clear whether the July 16-17 weekend crashes were caused by hacking or just the typical server issues. The Guardian reports that Niantic, a California-based software company, said: “Due to the incredible number of Pokémon GO downloads, some Trainers are experiencing server connectivity issues. Don’t worry, our team is on it!”
Other hackers were suspicious of the claims.
The weekend outages were nothing new; the servers have been crashing off-and-on since the game launched. You can check server outages on a website, Pokemon Go Server Status that uses crowd sourcing information to track real-time data on crashes. The website allows you to choose “online, unstable or offline” to describe your server status when you log in and tracks the data provided by hundreds of thousands of users to track world-wide server trends.
4. The Group’s Leader Promised Bigger Crashes
PoodleCorp’s leader, identified as XO through a Twitter handle, posted these tweets as the servers crashed on July 16 promising bigger crashes. But the Twitter site has now been deleted:
The app is now available in 26 countries, said The Guardian. A Twitter page devoted to real-time updates of Pokemon Go server crashes also documented the widespread reports of server problems (it says it’s not officially affiliated with the app developer):
On July 9, the game’s developer said it was pausing further international roll out “until we’re comfortable,” said Rappler.
5. Upset Fans Vented Their Frustration on Social Media
Patience was wearing thin for many users who couldn’t load the game, and they took to Twitter to vent their anger and annoyance: