Just one day after a crippling attack by hackers, the Colorado Rockies sold out their remaining 52,000-seat inventory for Games 3, 4 and a possible Game 5 in about two-and-a-half hours Tuesday on a Paciolan-powered ticketing platform. While the system seemed to operate correctly after Monday’s attack, it appeared the public relations damage from the widely publicized incident would have a lasting effect.Local editorial writers were quick to point the finger at both Paciolan and the Rockies, with the Denver Post dubbing the incident “Crocktober!” When Rockies spokesperson Jay Alves emerged for a press conference hours after Monday’s meltdown, he was met with jeers and boos from dozens of Rockies fans. When the sale did successfully go through, only about 16,000 fans out of 750,000 were able to get tickets.How did the Rockies first appearance at the World Series turn into such a public relations nightmare? Company officials are describing Monday’s attack as unprecedented show of force by hackers, flooding Paciolan’s system with over 8.5 million hits in just about 90 minutes. As a result of the fiasco, only about 500 tickets were sold on the first day.Despite early reports that hackers crashed the system, Paciolan is now confirming that company officials voluntarily took down the system after realizing it could no longer differentiate between legitimate buyers and scalpers using sophisticated bot software to buy up droves of tickets. While Paciolan has software that helps them identify scalpers using bots and block their ticket requests, it’s often powerless from preventing the software from connecting to their systems and clogging up their connection. “We saw an attack in volume and type that we had never experienced before,” said Dave Butler, CEO of ticketing company Paciolan. Paciolan officials said their system was hit with a three-pronged attack from hackers, although they are unsure if the attacks were coordinated. Paciolan first experienced what is commonly referred to as a Denial-of-Service (DoS) attack — typically an attempt to flood company servers with so many page hits that the system becomes overloaded with requests and crashes or is rendered so slow, it’s ineffective. Hackers and malicious programmers can employ programs that utilize hundreds of computers, often without the users’ knowledge, to overload a computer server.“The analogy I often use to describe this is a traffic jam,” said Ben Wingrove of eTix. “You have so many lanes going in and out of your server. When cars start to back up, you can add more lanes, but sometimes you can’t build lanes fast enough. And then if there is an accident, everything stops and no one can come in or out.”Butler said his computer servers were also hit by a SYN attack, a complex DoS attack that manipulates the way a computer establishes a connection with the connecting service. Those two attacks, coupled with the thousands of requests from scalpers using Bot software to buy up tickets, proved too much for the Paciolan computers. “This is a challenge we face in the online world. We have successfully managed it for years, but this time it was too much for our systems to handle,” Butler said. “This isn’t anything new. We’ve gotten much better at dealing with the bad guys, but it’s still a cat and mouse game.”Paciolan hasn’t released information on who might have led the attack against their system, but Derek Palmer of Tickets.com said DoS can come from anywhere.“At the end of the day, you could have something as crazy as an 11-year-old kid sitting in his basement, trying to take your server down,” he said.It’s very common for ticketing companies to face DoS attacks during on sales, he said, and events like the World Series are popular targets for hackers looking to boost street cred. “Automated scripts and malicious attacks are a daily occurrence that we have to deal with, that’s why you have to build your applications and infrastructures in a way to handle these types of issues.”The team is also facing a lot of criticism regarding its onsale system. Unlike its American League opponent, the Boston Red Sox, which organized a ticket lottery a day before it actually clinched a World Series spot, the Rockies opted to push forward with a general public onsale. Paciolan enables ticketing operations for four other teams besides the Rockies — the Arizona Diamondbacks, New York Mets, Philadelphia Phillies and the San Diego Padres.Paciolan’s own partners said they weren’t concerned with the impact of the attack and planned to move forward with their own ticketing operations.“I read about them happening every day,” said Fred Maglione of New Era Tickets, a Comcast-Spectacor system powered by Paciolan. “There’s no purpose in these attacks other than to disrupt someone’s business. These guys are criminals.” — Dave BrooksInterviewed for this article: Dave Butler, (949) 823-1648; Ben Wingrove, (919) 653-0501; Derek Palmer, (714) 327-5560; Fred Maglione, (610) 854-1100