During the waning days of December, we can only image the Xbox team is hunkered down in an all-hands-on-deck scenario. In a recent interview with Microsoft reporters Paul Thurrott and Mary Jo Foley, accompanied by Windows Weekly host Leo Laporte, Microsoft’s head of marketing Chris Capossela hinted at what awaits the Xbox team during Christmas. Capossela eluded to head of Xbox Phil Spencer and his talented team of engineers, customer support and service employees as well as well as Microsoft’s cloud services divisions, perhaps, standing at the ready awaiting the unusually high volume of Xbox traffic and planned attacks that occurs during the winter break.
— Kim Dotcom (@KimDotcom) December 14, 2015
According to threats from hacker groups earlier in the year, Spencer and his team were warned they would once again need to be on high alert this winter break as DDoS attacks were planned for the online service, Xbox Live. Fortunately for most, it appeared the Xbox team was ready and gamers online activity was only minimally encumbered, if at all.
Our earlier issues are now resolved! We may have missed you - be sure to power cycle your console & check again if any content was missing.
— Xbox Support (@XboxSupport) December 25, 2015
On top of attempting to clear the multiplayer lanes online, the Xbox team had to combat Denial-of-service attacks by 3rd parties a year prior. With the unusually high amount of traffic that flows through Xbox Live during the holiday seasons, a DDoS attack is a relatively easy way to spoof the system into crashing. As Xbox Live services attempt to identify legitimate IP addresses, a DDoS attack simply forges IP sender addresses masking the attack and flooding the online service with several illegitimate requests and bumping actual request out of the online queue.
Last year’s attack hit the Xbox Live network and ultimately took down both the Xbox and PS4’s ability to access content tied to online access. The attack left many with intermittent connectivity issues for hours. Eventually, the Xbox and Playstation teams were able to have gamers and users back up and running, but the attack exposed a seemingly glaring hole in the Xbox online accessibility.
In a fortunate contrast, the Xbox team coupled with Microsoft’s online service divisions and a year of preparation managed to keep most Xbox users up and going through the 96-hour entertainment melee that is Christmas weekend.
With countless gamers working skeletal shifts at businesses, accompanied by millions of users sharing similar if not identical vacation days, the Xbox online services are routinely put through the paces during winter and Christmas breaks. Luckily for Xbox users, Spencer and his team managed to keep the lights on and the hours of entertainment rolling for most.