By targeting a national cell phone carrier's IP address, one Pokemon GO player gets the entire country of Belgium banned from the game for a couple days.
Unsurprisingly, the incredible success of Pokemon GO over the last couple months has led to many players trying to beat out others by cheating. Niantic Labs, the developer behind the popular augmented reality game, has been actively banning any players who use any form of cheating. To do this, Niantic seems to be banning both the IP addresses and individual accounts of Pokemon GO cheater.
The fact that Niantic bans IP addresses led one Redditor to develop a theory – was it possible to get a national IP address banned, leading to an entire country losing access to Pokemon GO? The answer: yes.
The Redditor, known as pokemongodev, used burner SIM cards to launch thousands of simultaneous scans of the Pokemon GO servers, with all the scans tied to a specific IP address. The IP in question was the national IP address used by cell phone company, Proximus, which is the largest cell phone provider in Belgium.
As expected, Niantic flagged the IP address as a bot and shut down any Pokemon GO play coming from the IP address. And with Proximus shut out of the game, no users of the mobile phone company could access Pokemon GO. Granted, the folks at Niantic likely weren’t aware that the IP address was a national carrier IP, but undoubtedly assumed it was coming from a single user.
Interestingly, the Redditor later claimed not to have run the test, but rather alleged that Niantic had preemptively shut down the IP address after reading the initial Reddit post. Niantic has yet to comment on the matter.
We will note that this isn’t the first time an entire country lost access to Pokemon GO. Brazil experienced a similar situation where its citizens too experienced a Pokemon GO outage thanks to an IP ban. However, in Brazil’s case, the issue was resolved a few hours later. Fortunately for Belgium’s Pokemon GO community, Proximus announced the system was back online for players within a couple days.
Now that there have been two cases of such IP test bans, it’s likely Niantic is working diligently to filter through any potential IP bans so as to reduce the chances of another similar outage. However, this doesn’t mean the developer will be any more lenient toward Pokemon GO cheater or tracking sites. Niantic has made very clear that cheaters will not be tolerated in the Pokemon GO community.
What do you think about an entire country losing access to Pokemon GO?
Pokemon GO is available now on Android and iOS devices.