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Auction for failed games developer hit by DDoS attack

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Realtime Worlds' liquidation auction was blitzed off the web on Friday, following an attack on the website of auctioneers Sweeney Kincaid.

The online auction of kit from the failed games developer was first postponed by four hours, but after more denial of service attacks, it was eventually moved offline. The auctioneers, Sweeney Kincaid, responded to the continual attacks on its website by inviting final tenders via email. The deadline for closing bids fell on Sunday.

The sale of more than 1,000 items of office equipment and PCs eventually raised more than £100K, according to a spokesman for Sweeney Kincaid.

Realtime Worlds employed 200 workers in Dundee and the US prior to its demise in September 2010. Delays in the release of a multi-player game called APB (All Points Bulletin) and indifferent early reviews when it finally arrived in June were among the most significant contributors to the failure of the video games developer, the largest employer of its type in Scotland.

Our man at the auctioneer confirmed that the offline final tender process was applied to complete the sale in response to denial of service attacks. Although reluctant to be drawn on his suspicions, he said the attack might be the work of "disgruntled creditors with a gripe against Realtime Worlds" rather than a grievance with the auctioneer.

"This is the first time this has happened in two-and-a-half years of running auctions online," he told El Reg "We monitor loads and handle far bigger auctions than this. Online rumours that our site couldn't cope are simply untrue."

Defending against denial of service attacks is a notoriously tricky business, best tackled by mitigation tools at ISP premises to block attack traffic that would normally flood a targeted website. Sweeney Kincaid staff came into work on Sunday to complete the auction. Our contact at the Glasgow-based auctioneers said it was already applying unspecified defences to guard against a repetition of the site-availability problems it experienced on Friday as a result of the attack.

The auctioneer has apologised to prospective bidders via an email, copies of which were forwarded to El Reg.

"Due to continued attacks on our web servers, we have no option but to suspend live auction bidding on this sale due to many of you experiencing service outages," Sweeney Kincaid explained.

"The bids currently showing online and made to date will still stand, however further bidding on all lots in this sale will now be invited offline, by email."

Sweeney Kincaid is considering its options about whether or not to bring in the police to investigate the attack. "We are looking at options and talking to our lawyers. We've not ruled anything out," a spokesman said. ®

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