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Sunday 23 October 2016

Lotto ticket machines attacked on €12m night

Jane O'Faherty and Louise Kelly

Published 21/01/2016 | 02:30

The National Lottery is investigating the circumstances surrounding a cyber-attack on its system on the night of the biggest jackpot in over a year.

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The outage, which affected thousands of machines as well as the National Lottery's website, was dealt with before last night's draw for €12,545,065.

The jackpot was the biggest since June 2014, when a Donegal couple claimed a prize totalling €12,155,282. However, there was no winner last night.

Despite the issue being resolved, the National Lottery is attempting to find the source of the cyber-attack, with a DDOS (Distributed Denial of Service) believed to be responsible for the disruption.

A DDOS attack floods a website's communications system with traffic affecting all communications connectivity.

"Indications are that this morning's technical issues were as a result of a DDOS attack affecting our communications networks," the National Lottery said in a statement last night.

While retailers and customers were left unable to use machines in shops around the country for a time yesterday, potential ticket buyers received an error message when they tried to use the site.

Premier Lotteries Ireland (PLI), which operates the National Lottery, confirmed to the Irish Independent that machines were up and running again after a disruption that lasted two hours.

PLI said terminals were working again by 12.45pm after the outage.

This isn't the first time PLI has come under fire since it took control of the National Lottery in late 2014.

Last year, the private operator was criticised when 3,500 machines crashed for several hours. That technical difficulty forced the National Lottery to postpone a weekly prize draw for the first time in its history.

At the time, PLI said the failure was due to a service outage at its telecoms provider, Telefónica, which it hires through WestBase.

Also in 2015, other technical issues caused ticket machines to malfunction for two hours before a Euromillions draw. In that instance, the company blamed a firewall server issue.

Separately, PLI has been criticised for adding two extra numbers to the draw, which put the odds of winning a jackpot at almost 11 million-to-one.


Tara Brady, director general of the retailer group RGDATA, said several of its members experienced problems with the Lotto ticket terminals yesterday morning.

"This is very frustrating as it is a busy day for Lotto agents with the National Lottery draw of €12m," she said.

Meanwhile, Retail Ireland declined to comment on the effect of the service disruption.

"We are pleased to report that the machines are now fixed and hopefully the National Lottery will ensure that it doesn't happen again."

According to National Lottery figures, sales can surge by 80pc when the jackpot reaches €10m, as more players try their luck as the prize gets bigger.

Irish Independent

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