Microsoft is Removing P2P Connections on Party Chat

Microsoft is removing P2P voice chat connections in Xbox Party Chat to greatly improve security and reduce the chance of players falling victim to DDOS attacks. Keep reading to see exactly what this entails, and how it effects you!

Anybody who has been a regular user of Xbox Live since it’s inception in 2002 has had numerous encounters playing and communicating online with complete strangers. While most of these encounters are completely harmless, some players tend to go out of their way to annoy and even harass others. To do this, one player will often send an invite to the other through Xbox Party Chat, where they can communicate via voice instead of typing.

An important rule for any gamers on Xbox Live is to never accept a chat invite from someone you don’t know! Why, you might ask? When gamers connect through Party Chat, they are creating a direct connection between each others network, which can open you up for possible DDOS attacks as your IP address is visible to anyone in the party.

DDOS Attacks

DDOS stands for Distributed Denial of Service. To execute a DDOS attack, a user would run malicious code from multiple computers that targets your device. This code would flood your IP with communication requests that would stop your device from connecting to the Internet and any servers it is legitimately trying to access.

Based on that description, you can see that a DDOS attack would be detrimental to your Xbox as you would no longer be able to access the Xbox Live servers. Microsoft has a document to explain exactly how DDOS affects their devices. If you would like more information, you can read about that here.

Microsoft’s Answer

We know what a DDOS attack is, and we know that it happens because your IP address becomes visible to others when connected through Xbox Party Chat. So what is Microsoft’s plan to improve security and negate DDOS attacks?

In a Reddit post by Bill Ridmann (an Xbox Engineer), he clearly explains Microsoft’s plans.

We are actually phasing out P2P voice connections for party chat completely which we’ve been working on quite a bit in the background to stop this very problem. We’ve been ramping up a larger percentage of parties to be completely server based week over week (so you don’t make direct connections to other party members so they can not see your IP) and soon should have no more P2P based parties.

Bill Ridmann

This has been a long time coming, and is a very welcome improvement to the Xbox’s security. Using Xbox servers instead of a direct connection to other gamers will drastically reduce the number of DDOS attacks happening on Xbox consoles.

Ridmann continues in his post stating that if you are using Xbox Party Chat through the Xbox mobile app, chats are always performed on Xbox servers, so your phone’s IP is never available for others to see.

Look To The Future

As Microsoft rolls out this security improvement to all Xbox consoles, gamers should not notice any difference in chat performance. Just know, that your IP will never again be displayed for anyone in the party to view!

Summary

DDOS attacks have been a serious threat to the Xbox line of consoles for years because of the way that gamers connect to each other through Xbox Party Chat. It has recently been confirmed that Microsoft is removing P2P connections in voice chat and forcing all chats to be hosted directly on Microsoft’s servers. Going forward security will be greatly improved on Xbox. While it is still important to never accept a chat invite from someone you don’t know, the chance of a DDOS attack happening from that invite is drastically reduced.

Have you ever fallen victim to a DDOS attack on your Xbox? Let me know how it happened in the comments, and you may help deter others from accepting unknown chat invites!

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