Tag Archives: Copyright

Running a Torrent Tracker For Fun Can Be a Headache

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/running-a-torrent-tracker-for-fun-can-be-a-headache-160828/

zerodayWhile torrents will work without them, trackers are very handy for quickly finding other BitTorrent peers with the same content. They’re also essential for those who have DHT and PEX disabled in their clients.

Often run by people with an interest in the technology, public trackers are incapable of generating funds in their own right. This means that from a financial perspective there’s almost no incentive to run one.

The important thing to remember about trackers is that they carry no infringing content whatsoever, they merely direct torrent client traffic to a particular torrent hash. Nevertheless, this doesn’t stop tracker operators from getting copyright-related headaches.

In early 2016, a new stand-alone tracker was born. Operating from zer0day.ch, the tracker grew quite quickly in the first few days of life after ETRG (ExtraTorrent’s release group) added the tracker to its releases.

But with its first 10,000 torrents tracked, the problems began. The tracker was hosted in Germany and soon its host ran out of patience with mounting copyright infringement claims. After moving to Romania, history repeated itself when the tracker’s host suspended its server.

“They didn’t want to hear that running a tracker is not illegal,” zer0day’s admin informs TF.

Late April, the tracker moved again, this time to a Latvia/Sweden setup. From there the tracker’s popularity went through the roof after an important development. Unknown to the tracker’s admin, The Pirate Bay began adding zer0day as one of the default trackers in its magnet links.

Now coordinating millions of peers, zer0day became an important player but in August the site had yet more trouble. The tracker’s server went offline again, this time without any prior notice and despite the fact that in eight months of operation not a single DMCA notice had ever been directly filed with the tracker.

With a fourth server secured elsewhere, zer0day continued with its business but more aggravation was on the horizon. Early this month, Swiss domain registry Switch told the site’s operator that his .CH domain was in trouble.

According to Switch, someone had tried to send some documents to the domain owner by snail mail and the documents had not reached the address mentioned in the WHOIS. Zer0day’s admin was given 30 days to prove his identity (with residency papers, for example) or face his domain being deleted.

While keeping the .CH domain would have been preferable, Switch didn’t make anything easy. They blocked the domain from being transferred to a third party and refused to say which agency had tried to contact the tracker’s operator.

Frustrated, the tracker’s admin decided to jump ship after a friend donated a server and a new .to (Tonga) based domain. At the time of writing the tracker is doing well, reporting 1.21m torrents and 4.44m peers (3.04 M seeders + 1.40 M leechers) on its main page.

Speaking with TF, the tracker owner says that while the ride has been a bumpy one, things got much worse after Pirate Bay began adding his tracker URL by default, something he had no control over.

“Things went from bad to worse after TPB added the tracker to their magnet links. [That knowledge] might help ease someone’s efforts to run a torrent tracker in the future,” he concludes.

As mentioned earlier, trackers aren’t absolutely essential for the functioning of BitTorrent transfers. However, their existence certainly improves matters and sites like zer0day are happy to contribute, even if their work mainly flies under the radar.

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and ANONYMOUS VPN services.

Indian ISPs Speed Up BitTorrent by ‘Peering’ With a Torrent Site

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/indian-isps-speed-bittorrent-peering-torrent-site-160828/

torboxlogoFrom a networking perspective most Internet providers are generally not very happy with BitTorrent users.

These users place a heavy load on the network and can reduce the performance experienced by other subscribers. In addition, the huge amount of data transferred outside the ISPs’ own networks is also very costly.

Some ISPs are trying to alleviate the problem by throttling or otherwise meddling with BitTorrent traffic, but there is a more customer-friendly solution.

Instead of working against their torrenting subscribers, various Internet providers in India have found a win-win solution. They help users to download content faster by linking them to local peers in their own network.

ISPs such as Alliance Broadband, Excitel, Syscon Infoway and True Broadband, have been offering accelerated torrents for a while. Some have had their own custom ‘caching’ setups but increasingly they are teaming up with the torrent search engine Torbox.

While not well-known in the rest of the world, Torbox is a blessing for many Indians who are lucky enough to have an ISP that works with the site.

Through Torbox they can download torrents at speeds much higher than their regular Internet connection allows. This is possible because Torbox links them to peers in the local network, which means that the traffic is free for the ISP.

torboxubuntu

Most people who visit Torbox will see a notice that their ISP doesn’t have a peering agreement. However, for those who have a supporting ISP the torrent site returns search results ordering torrents based on the proximity of downloaders.

Torbox uses downloaders’ IP-addresses to determine who their ISP is and directs them to torrents with peers on the same network.

“It’s a highly sophisticated IP technology based on network proximity,” Torbox explains, adding that every ISP is welcome to sign a peering agreement.

“Then based on your IP address TorBox can estimate how well you are connected to peers who have the content in question. It’s quite a tough job but luckily it works,” they add.

The downloads themselves go through a regular torrent client and don’t use any special trackers. However, the torrent swarms often connect to dedicated “cache peers” as well, which serve bits and pieces to speed up the swarm.

Torbox itself doesn’t get involved in the traffic side, they only point people to the “peering” torrents. The actual peering is handled by other services, such as Extreme Peering, which is operated by Extreme Broadband Services (EBS).

TorrentFreak spoke with EBS director Victor Francess, who says that with this setup most torrent data is served from within the ISP’s own network.

“It all creates a very powerful user experience, so in fact just about 10-20% of all torrent traffic comes from the upstream and everything else is local,” Francess says.

As for the content, Torbox links to the torrents you would generally find on a torrent site. It even has a handy catalog page featuring some recent blockbusters and other popular videos. This page also advertises Strem.io as a service that can be used to stream video torrents directly.

torboxcatalog

TorrentFreak spoke to several Indian Torbox users at different ISPs, who are all pretty happy with the service. It allows them to download torrents at much faster rates than their regular Internet speed.

One user told us that his downloads sometimes reach a 10 MBps download speed, while his Internet connection is capped at 4 MBps.

The ISPs themselves are not too secretive about their peering agreements either. Excited previously advertised the Torbox peering on its main site and others such as Sifi Broadband still do.

torboxpl

Alliance Broadband still lists Torbox in its FAQ at the time of writing, describing it as a “local content search engine” through which subscribers receive files “at ultra-high speed from the other peering users.”

For most outsiders it’s intriguing to see ISPs publicly cooperating with a torrent site, but in India it’s reality.

The question is, however, how long this will last. In recent months piracy has become a hot topic in India, with Bollywood insiders linking it to massive losses and even terrorism.

Ironically, many ISPs have also been ordered by courts to block access to hundreds of piracy sites, including many torrent search engines. For now, however, Torbox remains freely accessible.

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and ANONYMOUS VPN services.

Library of Congress Might Become a Piracy Hub, RIAA Warns

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/library-congress-might-become-piracy-hub-riaa-warns-160827/

cassetteWith an impressive collection of more than 160 million items, the Library of Congress is the second largest library in the world.

The Library also serves as a legal repository for the copyright office. By law, everyone who publishes a copyrighted work in the U.S. is required to deposit two copies at the library.

This also applies to music and videos but up until now, content produced in an online-only format has been exempted from this mandatory deposit requirement.

However, now that digital is becoming the standard for more copyrighted works, the Copyright Office is considering a change. As a result, music publishers will be required to submit all digital works to the Library of Congress.

These files will then become freely accessible to the public through a secured system.

“Under any rule requiring mandatory deposit of online-only sound recordings, the Library would provide public access to such recordings,” the Copyright Office writes in its proposal.

“The Library currently has a system by which authorized users can access and listen to digitized copies of physical sound recordings collected through other means at the Madison Building of the Library of Congress.”

This proposal has been met with scrutiny by the music industry group RIAA, which states that it has “serious concerns.”

According to the RIAA, there is a risk that content hosted by the Library may be exploited by pirates, who could copy the music and share it on various pirate sites. This could then crush the major record labels’ revenues.

“It is well-established that the recorded music industry has been inundated with digital piracy,” the RIAA writes.

“If sound recordings available through the Library – whether on-premises or online – were managed in a way that patrons could use those recordings for uploading to pirate web sites and unlicensed streaming services or if the Library’s collection of sound recordings were made electronically available to the public at large, that could have a devastating impact on our member companies’ revenues.”

The RIAA further states that the current proposal lacks information on what security measures would apply to the storage of and access to sound recordings.

In addition to a general concern that the public could copy sound recordings in the library, the RIAA notes that there’s also a risk that the entire Library of Congress database could be hacked if people are allowed to access it over the Internet.

Should this happen, millions of digital sound recordings may leak to the public.

“In an age where servers are hacked on a regular basis, no electronic server is secure. Government servers are no different,” the RIAA writes.

“Given the inherent vulnerability of servers believed to be secure, we question the need for anyone to have remote access to a server that stores commercially valuable digital sound recordings.”

Since people have so many options to enjoy digital music nowadays, the RIAA sees no reason for the Library of Congress to allow electronic copying or distribution of the sound recordings of its members.

If the Copyright Office goes ahead, the RIAA urges it to consult the record labels to make sure that state of the art technological protection measures are deployed to secure their work.

RIAA’s full comments are available here (pdf).

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and ANONYMOUS VPN services.

WebTorrent: 250K Downloads & Strong With Zero Revenue

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/webtorrent-250k-downloads-strong-with-zero-revenue-160827/

Stanford University graduate Feross Aboukhadijeh is passionate about P2P technology. The founder of
P2P-assisted content delivery network PeerCDN (sold to Yahoo in 2013), Feross is also the inventor of WebTorrent.

In its classic form, WebTorrent is a BitTorrent client for the web. No external clients are needed for people to share files since everything is done in the user’s web browser with Javascript. No browser plugins or extensions need to be installed, nothing needs to be configured.

In the beginning, some doubted that it could ever work, but Feross never gave up on his dream.

“People thought WebTorrent was crazy. One of the Firefox developers literally said it wouldn’t be possible. I was like, ‘challenge accepted’,” Feross told TF this week.

WebTorrent

webt

A few months after WebTorrent’s debut, Feross announced the arrival of WebTorrent Desktop (WD), a standalone torrent client with a few tricks up its sleeve.

After posting a torrent or magnet link into its somewhat unusual client interface, content can be played almost immediately via an inbuilt player. And with AirPlay, Chromecast and DLNA support, WD is at home at the heart of any multi-display household.

webdesk-main

But WebTorrent Desktop’s most interesting feature is its ability to find peers not only via trackers, DHT and PEX, but also using the WebTorrent protocol. This means that WD can share content with people using the web-based version of WebTorrent too.

WebTorrent Desk

Since our April report, WebTorrent has been under constant development. It is now more responsive and uses fewer resources, casting has been improved, and subtitles are auto-detected, to name just a few improvements. As a result, the client has been growing its userbase too.

“The WebTorrent project is going full steam ahead and there has been lots of progress in the past few months,” Feross informs TF.

“We just passed a quarter million total downloads of the app – 254,431 downloads as of right now.”

For a young and totally non-commercial project, that’s an impressive number, but the accolades don’t stop there. The project currently has more than 2,083 stars on Github and it recently added its 26th new contributor.

In all, WebTorrent has nine people working on the core team, but since the client is open source and totally non-commercial, no one is earning anything from the project. According to Feross, this only makes WebTorrent stronger.

“People usually think that having revenue, investors, and employees gives you an advantage over your competition. That’s definitely true for certain things: you can hire designers, programmers, marketing experts, product managers, etc. to build out the product, add lots of features,” the developer says.

“But you have to pay your employees and investors, and these pressures usually cause companies to resort to adding advertising (or worse) to their products. When you have no desire to make a profit, you can act purely in the interests of the people using your product. In short, you can build a better product.”

So if not money, what drives people like Feross and his team to give up their time to create something and give it away?

“The real reason I care so much about WebTorrent is that I want decentralized apps to win. Right now, it’s so much easier to build a centralized app: it’s faster to build, uses tried-and-true technology, and it’s easier to monetize because the app creator has all the control. They can use that control to show you ads, sell your data, or make unilateral product changes for their own benefit,” he says.

“On the other hand, decentralized apps are censorship resistant, put users in control of their data, and are safe against user-hostile changes.

“That last point is really important. It’s because of the foresight of Bram Cohen that WebTorrent is even possible today: the BitTorrent protocol is an open standard. If you don’t like your current torrent app, you can easily switch! No one person or company has total control.”

WebTorrent Desktop developer DC Posch says that several things motivate him to work on the project, particularly when there’s no one to order him around.

“There’s satisfaction in craftsmanship, shipping something that feels really solid. Second, it’s awesome having 250,000 users and no boss,” he says.

“Third, it’s something that I want to exist. There are places like the Internet Archive that have lots of great material and no money for bandwidth. BitTorrent is a technologically elegant way to do zero cost distribution. Finally, I want to prove that non-commercial can be a competitive advantage. Freed from the need to monetize or produce a return, you can produce a superior product.”

To close, last year TF reported that WebTorrent had caught the eye of Netflix. Feross says that was a great moment for the project.

“It was pretty cool to show off WebTorrent at Netflix HQ. They were really interested in the possibility of WebTorrent to help during peak hours when everyone is watching Netflix and the uplink to ISPs like Comcast gets completely saturated. WebTorrent could help by letting Comcast subscribers share data amongst themselves without needing to traverse the congested Comcast-Netflix internet exchange,” he explains.

For now, WebTorrent is still a relative minnow when compared to giants such as uTorrent but there are an awful lot of people out there who share the ethos of Feross and his team. Only time will tell whether this non-commercial project will fulfill its dreams, but those involved will certainly have fun trying.

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and ANONYMOUS VPN services.

Notes on that StJude/MuddyWatters/MedSec thing

Post Syndicated from Robert Graham original http://blog.erratasec.com/2016/08/notes-on-that-stjudemuddywattersmedsec.html

I thought I’d write up some notes on the StJude/MedSec/MuddyWaters affair. Some references: [1] [2] [3] [4].

The story so far

tl;dr: hackers drop 0day on medical device company hoping to profit by shorting their stock

St Jude Medical (STJ) is one of the largest providers of pacemakers (aka. cardiac devices) in the country, around ~$2.5 billion in revenue, which accounts for about half their business. They provide “smart” pacemakers with an on-board computer that talks via radio-waves to a nearby monitor that records the functioning of the device (and health data). That monitor, “Merlin@Home“, then talks back up to St Jude (via phone lines, 3G cell phone, or wifi). Pretty much all pacemakers work that way (my father’s does, although his is from a different vendor).

MedSec is a bunch of cybersecurity researchers (white-hat hackers) who have been investigating medical devices. In theory, their primary business is to sell their services to medical device companies, to help companies secure their devices. Their CEO is Justine Bone, a long-time white-hat hacker. Despite Muddy Waters garbling the research, there’s no reason to doubt that there’s quality research underlying all this.

Muddy Waters is an investment company known for investigating companies, finding problems like accounting fraud, and profiting by shorting the stock of misbehaving companies.

Apparently, MedSec did a survey of many pacemaker manufacturers, chose the one with the most cybersecurity problems, and went to Muddy Waters with their findings, asking for a share of the profits Muddy Waters got from shorting the stock.

Muddy Waters published their findings in [1] above. St Jude published their response in [2] above. They are both highly dishonest. I point that out because people want to discuss the ethics of using 0day to short stock when we should talk about the ethics of lying.

“Why you should sell the stock” [finance issues]

In this section, I try to briefly summarize Muddy Water’s argument why St Jude’s stock will drop. I’m not an expert in this area (though I do a bunch of investment), but they do seem flimsy to me.
Muddy Water’s argument is that these pacemakers are half of St Jude’s business, and that fixing them will first require recalling them all, then take another 2 year to fix, during which time they can’t be selling pacemakers. Much of the Muddy Waters paper is taken up explaining this, citing similar medical cases, and so on.
If at all true, and if the cybersecurity claims hold up, then yes, this would be good reason to short the stock. However, I suspect they aren’t true — and they are simply trying to scare people about long-term consequences allowing Muddy Waters to profit in the short term.
@selenakyle on Twitter suggests this interest document [4] about market-solutions to vuln-disclosure, if you are interested in this angle of things.
Update from @lippard: Abbot Labs agreed in April to buy St Jude at $85 a share (when St Jude’s stock was $60/share). Presumable, for this Muddy Waters attack on St Jude’s stock price to profit from anything more than a really short term stock drop (like dumping their short position today), Muddy Waters would have believe this effort will cause Abbot Labs to walk away from the deal. Normally, there are penalties for doing so, but material things like massive vulnerabilities in a product should allow Abbot Labs to walk away without penalties.

The 0day being dropped

Well, they didn’t actually drop 0day as such, just claims that 0day exists — that it’s been “demonstrated”. Reading through their document a few times, I’ve created a list of the 0day they found, to the granularity that one would expect from CVE numbers (CVE is group within the Department of Homeland security that assigns standard reference numbers to discovered vulnerabilities).

The first two, which can kill somebody, are the salient ones. The others are more normal cybersecurity issues, and may be of concern because they can leak HIPAA-protected info.

CVE-2016-xxxx: Pacemaker can be crashed, leading to death
Within a reasonable distance (under 50 feet) over several hours, pounding the pacemaker with malformed packets (either from an SDR or a hacked version of the Merlin@Home monitor), the pacemaker can crash. Sometimes such crashes will brick the device, other times put it into a state that may kill the patient by zapping the heart too quickly.

CVE-2016-xxxx: Pacemaker power can be drained, leading to death
Within a reasonable distance (under 50 feet) over several days, the pacemaker’s power can slowly be drained at the rate of 3% per hour. While the user will receive a warning from their Merlin@Home monitoring device that the battery is getting low, it’s possible the battery may be fully depleted before they can get to a doctor for a replacement. A non-functioning pacemaker may lead to death.

CVE-2016-xxxx: Pacemaker uses unauthenticated/unencrypted RF protocol
The above two items are possible because there is no encryption nor authentication in the wireless protocol, allowing any evildoer access to the pacemaker device or the monitoring device.

CVE-2016-xxxx: Merlin@Home contained hard-coded credentials and SSH keys
The password to connect to the St Jude network is the same for all device, and thus easily reverse engineered.

CVE-2016-xxxx: local proximity wand not required
It’s unclear in the report, but it seems that most other products require a wand in local promixity (inches) in order to enable communication with the pacemaker. This seems like a requirement — otherwise, even with authentication, remote RF would be able to drain the device in the person’s chest.

So these are, as far as I can tell, the explicit bugs they outline. Unfortunately, none are described in detail. I don’t see enough detail for any of these to actually be assigned a CVE number. I’m being generous here, trying to describe them as such, giving them the benefit of the doubt, there’s enough weasel language in there that makes me doubt all of them. Though, if the first two prove not to be reproducible, then there will be a great defamation case, so I presume those two are true.

The movie/TV plot scenarios

So if you wanted to use this as a realistic TV/movie plot, here are two of them.
#1 You (the executive of the acquiring company) are meeting with the CEO and executives of a smaller company you want to buy. It’s a family concern, and the CEO really doesn’t want to sell. But you know his/her children want to sell. Therefore, during the meeting, you pull out your notebook and an SDR device and put it on the conference room table. You start running the exploit to crash that CEO’s pacemaker. It crashes, the CEO grabs his/her chest, who gets carted off the hospital. The children continue negotiations, selling off their company.
#2 You are a hacker in Russia going after a target. After many phishing attempts, you finally break into the home desktop computer. From that computer, you branch out and connect to the Merlin@Home devices through the hard-coded password. You then run an exploit from the device, using that device’s own radio, to slowly drain the battery from the pacemaker, day after day, while the target sleeps. You patch the software so it no longer warns the user that the battery is getting low. The battery dies, and a few days later while the victim is digging a ditch, s/he falls over dead from heart failure.

The Muddy Water’s document is crap

There are many ethical issues, but the first should be dishonesty and spin of the Muddy Waters research report.

The report is clearly designed to scare other investors to drop St Jude stock price in the short term so that Muddy Waters can profit. It’s not designed to withstand long term scrutiny. It’s full of misleading details and outright lies.

For example, it keeps stressing how shockingly bad the security vulnerabilities are, such as saying:

We find STJ Cardiac Devices’ vulnerabilities orders of magnitude more worrying than the medical device hacks that have been publicly discussed in the past. 

This is factually untrue. St Jude problems are no worse than the 2013 issue where doctors disable the RF capabilities of Dick Cheney’s pacemaker in response to disclosures. They are no worse than that insulin pump hack. Bad cybersecurity is the norm for medical devices. St Jude may be among the worst, but not by an order-of-magnitude.

The term “orders of magnitude” is math, by the way, and means “at least 100 times worse”. As an expert, I claim these problems are not even one order of magnitude (10 times worse). I challenge MedSec’s experts to stand behind the claim that these vulnerabilities are at least 100 times worse than other public medical device hacks.

In many places, the language is wishy-washy. Consider this quote:

Despite having no background in cybersecurity, Muddy Waters has been able to replicate in-house key exploits that help to enable these attacks

The semantic content of this is nil. It says they weren’t able to replicate the attacks themselves. They don’t have sufficient background in cybersecurity to understand what they replicated.

Such language is pervasive throughout the document, things that aren’t technically lies, but which aren’t true, either.

Also pervasive throughout the document, repeatedly interjected for no reason in the middle of text, are statements like this, repeatedly stressing why you should sell the stock:

Regardless, we have little doubt that STJ is about to enter a period of protracted litigation over these products. Should these trials reach verdicts, we expect the courts will hold that STJ has been grossly negligent in its product design. (We estimate awards could total $6.4 billion.15)

I point this out because Muddy Waters obviously doesn’t feel the content of the document stands on its own, so that you can make this conclusion yourself. It instead feels the need to repeat this message over and over on every page.

Muddy Waters violation of Kerckhoff’s Principle

One of the most important principles of cyber security is Kerckhoff’s Principle, that more openness is better. Or, phrased another way, that trying to achieve security through obscurity is bad.

The Muddy Water’s document attempts to violate this principle. Besides the the individual vulnerabilities, it makes the claim that St Jude cybersecurity is inherently bad because it’s open. it uses off-the-shelf chips, standard software (line Linux), and standard protocols. St Jude does nothing to hide or obfuscate these things.

Everyone in cybersecurity would agree this is good. Muddy Waters claims this is bad.

For example, some of their quotes:

One competitor went as far as developing a highly proprietary embedded OS, which is quite costly and rarely seen

In contrast, the other manufacturers have proprietary RF chips developed specifically for their protocols

Again, as the cybersecurity experts in this case, I challenge MedSec to publicly defend Muddy Waters in these claims.

Medical device manufacturers should do the opposite of what Muddy Waters claims. I’ll explain why.

Either your system is secure or it isn’t. If it’s secure, then making the details public won’t hurt you. If it’s insecure, then making the details obscure won’t help you: hackers are far more adept at reverse engineering than you can possibly understand. Making things obscure, though, does stop helpful hackers (i.e. cybersecurity consultants you hire) from making your system secure, since it’s hard figuring out the details.

Said another way: your adversaries (such as me) hate seeing open systems that are obviously secure. We love seeing obscure systems, because we know you couldn’t possibly have validated their security.

The point is this: Muddy Waters is trying to profit from the public’s misconception about cybersecurity, namely that obscurity is good. The actual principle is that obscurity is bad.

St Jude’s response was no better

In response to the Muddy Water’s document, St Jude published this document [2]. It’s equally full of lies — the sort that may deserve a share holder lawsuit. (I see lawsuits galore over this). It says the following:

We have examined the allegations made by Capital and MedSec on August 25, 2016 regarding the safety and security of our pacemakers and defibrillators, and while we would have preferred the opportunity to review a detailed account of the information, based on available information, we conclude that the report is false and misleading.

If that’s true, if they can prove this in court, then that will mean they could win millions in a defamation lawsuit against Muddy Waters, and millions more for stock manipulation.

But it’s almost certainly not true. Without authentication/encryption, then the fact that hackers can crash/drain a pacemaker is pretty obvious, especially since (as claimed by Muddy Waters), they’ve successfully done it. Specifically, the picture on page 17 of the 34 page Muddy Waters document is a smoking gun of a pacemaker misbehaving.

The rest of their document contains weasel-word denials that may be technically true, but which have no meaning.

St. Jude Medical stands behind the security and safety of our devices as confirmed by independent third parties and supported through our regulatory submissions. 

Our software has been evaluated and assessed by several independent organizations and researchers including Deloitte and Optiv.

In 2015, we successfully completed an upgrade to the ISO 27001:2013 certification.

These are all myths of the cybersecurity industry. Conformance with security standards, such as ISO 27001:2013, has absolutely zero bearing on whether you are secure. Having some consultants/white-hat claim your product is secure doesn’t mean other white-hat hackers won’t find an insecurity.

Indeed, having been assessed by Deloitte is a good indicator that something is wrong. It’s not that they are incompetent (they’ve got some smart people working for them), but ultimately the way the security market works is that you demand of such auditors that the find reasons to believe your product is secure, not that they keep hunting until something is found that is insecure. It’s why outsiders, like MedSec, are better, because they strive to find why your product is insecure. The bigger the enemy, the more resources they’ll put into finding a problem.

It’s like after you get a hair cut, your enemies and your friends will have different opinions on your new look. Enemies are more honest.

The most obvious lie from the St Jude response is the following:

The report claimed that the battery could be depleted at a 50-foot range. This is not possible since once the device is implanted into a patient, wireless communication has an approximate 7-foot range. This brings into question the entire testing methodology that has been used as the basis for the Muddy Waters Capital and MedSec report.

That’s not how wireless works. With directional antennas and amplifiers, 7-feet easily becomes 50-feet or more. Even without that, something designed for reliable operation at 7-feet often works less reliably at 50-feet. There’s no cutoff at 7-feet within which it will work, outside of which it won’t.

That St Jude deliberately lies here brings into question their entire rebuttal. (see what I did there?)

ETHICS EHTICS ETHICS

First let’s discuss the ethics of lying, using weasel words, and being deliberately misleading. Both St Jude and Muddy Waters do this, and it’s ethically wrong. I point this out to uninterested readers who want to get at that other ethical issue. Clear violations of ethics we all agree interest nobody — but they ought to. We should be lambasting Muddy Waters for their clear ethical violations, not the unclear one.

So let’s get to the ethical issue everyone wants to discuss:

Is it ethical to profit from shorting stock while dropping 0day.

Let’s discuss some of the issues.

There’s no insider trading. Some people wonder if there are insider trading issues. There aren’t. While it’s true that Muddy Waters knew some secrets that nobody else knew, as long as they weren’t insider secrets, it’s not insider trading. In other words, only insiders know about a key customer contract won or lost recently. But, vulnerabilities researched by outsiders is still outside the company.

Watching a CEO walk into the building of a competitor is still outsider knowledge — you can trade on the likely merger, even though insider employees cannot.

Dropping 0day might kill/harm people. That may be true, but that’s never an ethical reason to not drop it. That’s because it’s not this one event in isolation. If companies knew ethical researchers would never drop an 0day, then they’d never patch it. It’s like the government’s warrantless surveillance of American citizens: the courts won’t let us challenge it, because we can’t prove it exists, and we can’t prove it exists, because the courts allow it to be kept secret, because revealing the surveillance would harm national intelligence. That harm may happen shouldn’t stop the right thing from happening.

In other words, in the long run, dropping this 0day doesn’t necessarily harm people — and thus profiting on it is not an ethical issue. We need incentives to find vulns. This moves the debate from an ethical one to more of a factual debate about the long-term/short-term risk from vuln disclosure.

As MedSec points out, St Jude has already proven itself an untrustworthy consumer of vulnerability disclosures. When that happens, the dropping 0day is ethically permissible for “responsible disclosure”. Indeed, that St Jude then lied about it in their response ex post facto justifies the dropping of the 0day.

No 0day was actually dropped here. In this case, what was dropped was claims of 0day. This may be good or bad, depending on your arguments. It’s good that the vendor will have some extra time to fix the problems before hackers can start exploiting them. It’s bad because we can’t properly evaluate the true impact of the 0day unless we get more detail — allowing Muddy Waters to exaggerate and mislead people in order to move the stock more than is warranted.

In other words, the lack of actual 0day here is the problem — actual 0day would’ve been better.

This 0day is not necessarily harmful. Okay, it is harmful, but it requires close proximity. It’s not as if the hacker can reach out from across the world and kill everyone (barring my movie-plot section above). If you are within 50 feet of somebody, it’s easier shooting, stabbing, or poisoning them.

Shorting on bad news is common. Before we address the issue whether this is unethical for cybersecurity researchers, we should first address the ethics for anybody doing this. Muddy Waters already does this by investigating companies for fraudulent accounting practice, then shorting the stock while revealing the fraud.

Yes, it’s bad that Muddy Waters profits on the misfortunes of others, but it’s others who are doing fraud — who deserve it. [Snide capitalism trigger warning] To claim this is unethical means you are a typical socialist who believe the State should defend companies, even those who do illegal thing, in order to stop illegitimate/windfall profits. Supporting the ethics of this means you are a capitalist, who believe companies should succeed or fail on their own merits — which means bad companies need to fail, and investors in those companies should lose money.

Yes, this is bad for cybersec research. There is constant tension between cybersecurity researchers doing “responsible” (sic) research and companies lobbying congress to pass laws against it. We see this recently how Detroit lobbied for DMCA (copyright) rules to bar security research, and how the DMCA regulators gave us an exemption. MedSec’s action means now all medical devices manufacturers will now lobby congress for rules to stop MedSec — and the rest of us security researchers. The lack of public research means medical devices will continue to be flawed, which is worse for everyone.

Personally, I don’t care about this argument. How others might respond badly to my actions is not an ethical constraint on my actions. It’s like speech: that others may be triggered into lobbying for anti-speech laws is still not constraint on what ethics allow me to say.

There were no lies or betrayal in the research. For me, “ethics” is usually a problem of lying, cheating, theft, and betrayal. As long as these things don’t happen, then it’s ethically okay. If MedSec had been hired by St Jude, had promised to keep things private, and then later disclosed them, then we’d have an ethical problem. Or consider this: frequently clients ask me to lie or omit things in pentest reports. It’s an ethical quagmire. The quick answer, by the way, is “can you make that request in writing?”. The long answer is “no”. It’s ethically permissible to omit minor things or do minor rewording, but not when it impinges on my credibility.

A life is worth about $10-million. Most people agree that “you can’t put value on a human life”, and that those who do are evil. The opposite is true. Should we spend more on airplane safety, breast cancer research, or the military budget to fight ISIS. Each can be measured in the number of lives saved. Should we spend more on breast cancer research, which affects people in their 30s, or solving heart disease, which affects people’s in their 70s? All these decisions means putting value on human life, and sometimes putting different value on human life. Whether you think it’s ethical, it’s the way the world works.

Thus, we can measure this disclosure of 0day in terms of potential value of life lost, vs. potential value of life saved.

Is this market manipulation? This is more of a legal question than an ethical one, but people are discussing it. If the data is true, then it’s not “manipulation” — only if it’s false. As documented in this post, there’s good reason to doubt the complete truth of what Muddy Waters claims. I suspect it’ll cost Muddy Waters more in legal fees in the long run than they could possibly hope to gain in the short run. I recommend investment companies stick to areas of their own expertise (accounting fraud) instead of branching out into things like cyber where they really don’t grasp things.

This is again bad for security research. Frankly, we aren’t a trusted community, because we claim the “sky is falling” too often, and are proven wrong. As this is proven to be market manipulation, as the stock recovers back to its former level, and the scary stories of mass product recalls fail to emerge, we’ll be blamed yet again for being wrong. That hurts are credibility.

On the other the other hand, if any of the scary things Muddy Waters claims actually come to pass, then maybe people will start heading our warnings.

Ethics conclusion: I’m a die-hard troll, so therefore I’m going to vigorously defend the idea of shorting stock while dropping 0day. (Most of you appear to think it’s unethical — I therefore must disagree with you).  But I’m also a capitalist. This case creates an incentive to drop harmful 0days — but it creates an even greater incentive for device manufacturers not to have 0days to begin with. Thus, despite being a dishonest troll, I do sincerely support the ethics of this.

Conclusion

The two 0days are about crashing the device (killing the patient sooner) or draining the battery (killin them later). Both attacks require hours (if not days) in close proximity to the target. If you can get into the local network (such as through phishing), you might be able to hack the Merlin@Home monitor, which is in close proximity to the target for hours every night.

Muddy Waters thinks the security problems are severe enough that it’ll destroy St Jude’s $2.5 billion pacemaker business. The argument is flimsy. St Jude’s retort is equally flimsy.

My prediction: a year from now we’ll see little change in St Jude’s pacemaker business earners, while there may be some one time costs cleaning some stuff up. This will stop the shenanigans of future 0day+shorting, even when it’s valid, because nobody will believe researchers.

Steal This Show S02E01: Zeronet

Post Syndicated from J.J. King original https://torrentfreak.com/steal-show-s02e01-zeronet/

steal240In this first episode of our new season, we interview Tamas Kocsis, the founder and developer Zeronet.

Zeronet is a relatively new project that gives us the ability to develop completely distributed websites, invulnerable to censorship of any kind.

With Tor anonymity baked in, at least on the Windows version, that creates a very powerful environment for free expression.

Today Zeronet founder Tamas talks us through the history of the platform and some of the features he’s working on at the moment.

In addition he discusses plans to add a BitTorrent plugin that may be able to provide distributed, anonymous video streaming – which sounds like a new headache for Hollywood just around the corner.

But, Zeronet isn’t just a about torrents: we also hear from Tamas how it can be used right now to set up anonymous messaging, forums, marketplaces, and more.

Steal This Show aims to release bi-weekly episodes featuring insiders discussing copyright and file-sharing news. It complements our regular reporting by adding more room for opinion, commentary and analysis.

The guests for our news discussions will vary and we’ll aim to introduce voices from different backgrounds and persuasions. In addition to news, STS will also produce features interviewing some of the great innovators and minds.

Host: Jamie King

Guest: Tamas Kocsis

Produced by Jamie King
Edited & Mixed by Riley Byrne
Original Music by David Triana
Web Production by Siraje Amarniss

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and ANONYMOUS VPN services.

Who Are The Alleged Top Men Behind KickassTorrents?

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/the-alleged-top-men-behind-kickasstorrents-160826/

katThe sudden shutdown last month of KickassTorrents left a sizeable hole in the torrent landscape. KAT was the largest torrent index on the planet and much-loved by those who frequented it.

On day one of the shutdown, the United States government revealed that they had one prime suspect in their sights. Ukrainian Artem Vaulin was said to be the mastermind of KickassTorrents, coordinating an international operation through Cryptoneat, a front company in Kharkiv, Ukraine.

Yesterday the United States officially indicted Vaulin (aka ‘tirm’) along with two of his alleged KickassTorrents co-conspirators – Oleksandr Radostin (aka ‘pioneer’) and Ievgen Kutsenko (aka ‘chill’). All are said to have worked at Cryptoneat but little else is known about them. Today we can put some meat on the bones.

Artem Vaulin

Artem Vaulin is a 30-year-old man from Ukraine. Born in 1985, he is married with a young son. According to an investigation carried out by Vesti, his business life had simple roots.

After graduating from school, Vaulin went on to set up a vending machine business focusing on chewing gum and soft toys.

“My parents gave me $3000. They said: ‘Cool, you do not have to count on us. Now you have your own money’,” Vaulin told reporters in 2004.

Since then, Vaulin’s business empire seems to have taken off but despite reportedly having interests in several local companies (three with registered capital of more than $8.5m total), Vaulin appears to have been able to keep a reasonably low profile.

However, it is Vaulin’s love of squash that leads us to the only images available of him online. Ukrainian squash portal Squashtime.com.ua has a full profile, indicating his date and place of birth, and even his racquet preference.

vaulin-1

Vesti approached the club where Vaulin trained but due to data protection issues it would not share any information on the businessman. However, local news resource Segodnya tracked down Vaulin’s squash coach, Evgeny Ponomarenko.

“I know it only from the positive side. Artem is a good man and a family man with a growing son,” Ponomarenko said.

Vaulin is also said to have signed petitions on the Ukranian president’s website, one requesting that the country join NATO and another seeking to allow Ukranians to receive money from abroad via PayPal.

Oleksandr (Alexander) Radostin

Alexander Radostin appears to have been a software architect and/or lead engineer at Cryptoneat but other than that, very little is known about him.

There are several references to him online in Ukraine in relation to the shutdown of KickassTorrents, but most merely speculate that as an employee of Cryptoneat, Radostin might be best placed to confirm Vaulin’s current arrest status.

Many former Cryptoneat employees have purged their social networking presence but some of Radostin’s details are still available via Ukranian-based searches, including the Linkedin image below.

radostin-linkedin-1

While almost nothing is known about the third indicted KickassTorrents operator, Ievgen Kutsenko, images of the offices from where he and his colleagues allegedly ran the site can be hunted down.

The image below shows a screenshot from a Ukranian job seeking site where Cryptoneat had a page. It lists both Vaulin and Radostin to the right of some tiny thumbnails of photographs apparently taken inside the Kickass/Cryptoneat offices.

crypto-jobs

TF managed to track down a full-size version of the third image from the left and the environment looks very nice indeed.

crypto-4

While Vaulin is currently being held in a Polish jail, the whereabouts of his alleged co-conspirators is unknown. However, if they are still in Ukraine it might not be straightforward to have them extradited to the United States.

“Ukraine and the United States do not have an extradition treaty,” the U.S. Embassy confirms on its Ukraine website.

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and ANONYMOUS VPN services.

FBI-Controlled Megaupload Domain Now Features Soft Porn

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/fbi-controlled-megaupload-domain-now-features-soft-porn-160826/

fbiantiMegaupload was shutdown nearly half a decade ago, but all this time there has been little progress on the legal front.

Last December a New Zealand District Court judge ruled that Kim Dotcom and his colleagues can be extradited to the United States to face criminal charges, a decision that will be appealed shortly.

With the criminal case pending, the U.S. Government also retains control over several of the company’s assets.

This includes cash, cars, but also over a dozen of Megaupload’s former domain names, including Megastuff.co, Megaclicks.org, Megaworld.mobi, Megaupload.com, Megaupload.org, and Megavideo.com.

Initially, the domains served a banner indicating they had been seized as part of a criminal investigation. However, those who visit some of the sites today are in for a surprise.

This week we discovered that Megaupload.org is now hosting a site dedicated to soft porn advertisements. Other seized domains are also filled with ads, including Megastuff.co, Megaclicks.org, and Megaworld.mobi.

Megaupload?

megauploaorg

Interestingly, this all happened under the watch of the FBI, which is still listed as the administrative and technical contact for the domain names in question.

So how can this be?

Regular readers may recall that something similar happened to the main Megaupload.com domain last year. At the time we traced this back to an expired domain the FBI used for their nameservers, Cirfu.net.

After Cirfu.net expired, someone else took over the domain name and linked Megaupload.com to scammy ads. The U.S. authorities eventually fixed this by removing the nameservers altogether, but it turns out that they didn’t do this for all seized domains.

A few weeks ago the Cirfu.net domain expired once more and again it was picked up by an outsider. This unknown person or organization parked it at Rook Media, to generate some cash from the FBI-controlled domains.

As can be seen from the domain WHOIS data, Megaupload.org still uses the old Cirfu.net nameservers, which means that an outsider is now able to control several of the seized Megaupload domain names.

cirfu

The ‘hijacked’ domains don’t get much traffic but it’s still quite embarrassing to have them linked to ads and soft porn. Commenting on our findings, Kim Dotcom notes that the sloppiness is exemplary of the entire criminal case.

“Their handling of the Megaupload domain is a reflection of the entire case: Unprofessional,” Dotcom tells us.

What’s clear is that the U.S. authorities haven’t learned from their past mistakes. It literally only takes a few clicks to update the nameserver info and reinstate the original seizure banner. One would assume that the FBI has the technical capabilities to pull that off.

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and ANONYMOUS VPN services.

Dotcom Wants Extradition Hearing Live-Streamed, U.S. Does Not

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/dotcom-wants-extradition-hearing-live-streamed-u-s-does-not-160825/

kimfugitiveEarlier this month, Kim Dotcom experienced a setback when the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals rejected his efforts to regain control over millions of dollars in assets seized by the US Government.

Branding the Megaupload founder a fugitive, the Court effectively denied Dotcom the ability to properly defend himself, should he be extradited to the United States from New Zealand.

Together with his former Megaupload colleagues Mathias Ortmann, Bram van der Kolk and Finn Batato, Dotcom was found eligible for extradition to the United States last December. His appeal will take place at the High Court in Auckland this month and Dotcom wants the whole world to see.

While many jurisdictions internationally will not grant permission for a live video or audio feed to be transmitted from a courtroom, in New Zealand the proposition is not out of the question.

All courts nationwide allow cameras and the recording of proceedings, as long as there are no serious privacy breaches, compromising of witnesses, or risks to the right to a fair trial.

Just recently the Chief Justice requested a report from a panel of judges on guidelines relating to recording in court. The report (pdf) found that 93% of District and High Court Judges had not experienced an instance where recording in court had resulted in a fair trial issue arising.

While the panel’s recommendations were accepted by the Chief Justice, live-streaming of court proceedings did not receive widespread support among submissions from judges. However, upon successful application and in important cases such as Dotcom’s, such transmissions can go ahead.

“Live-streaming may be an available option, particularly if there are fixed cameras in court.Live streaming will remain an option in certain major cases, and would be considered if an application is made,” the Judges’ recommendations read.

While it’s possible that Dotcom’s application will be accepted, no feed coming out of the High Court would be truly live. All transmissions would be subjected to a 10-minute delay to protect all parties involved in proceedings.

“A meaningful check on actual publication gives Judges and counsel the opportunity to consider evidence as it is adduced, and decide on whether suppression is appropriate in a measured way,” the Judges note.

“We are aware of numerous instances when that delay has been critical
to give a Judge time to stop an otherwise potentially disastrous publication. A short delay is a small price to pay for in-court coverage.”

But while Dotcom and his legal team are clearly in favor of having the six-week hearing transmitted (almost) live, the U.S. Government is reportedly pulling in the opposite direction. Dotcom reports that his application has already received objections from lawyers in the United States.

At the time of publication, Dotcom hadn’t responded to our request for comment so the grounds for the US Government’s objection aren’t yet clear. However, the media circuses surrounding the televised trials of both O.J Simpson and Michael Jackson are still within recent memory and under huge scrutiny neither went well for the prosecution.

Whether live-streaming is granted or not, Dotcom won’t be giving up the fight, even if his extradition appeal fails. The entrepreneur has already stated that he’ll take his case all the way to the Supreme Court if necessary.

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and ANONYMOUS VPN services.

U.S. Government Indicts Three Alleged KickassTorrents Operators

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/u-s-government-indicts-three-alleged-kickasstorrents-operators160825/

kickasstorrents_500x500Last month, Polish law enforcement officers arrested Artem Vaulin, the alleged owner of KickassTorrents, who’s been held in a local prison since.

Polish authorities acted on a criminal complaint from the U.S. Government which contained several damning allegations.

This week, the Department of Justice (DoJ) followed up the complaint with a full grand jury indictment, which presents several new allegations.

In addition to Vaulin, it charges two other defendants, Ievgen Kutsenko and Oleksandr Radostin. The three men, all from Ukraine, are charged with several counts of copyright infringement and money laundering.

“Kickass Torrents, or ‘KAT,’ was a commercial website that facilitated and promoted the reproduction and distribution of copyrighted content over the Internet without authorization of the copyright owners,” the DoJ writes.

KAT’s seizure banner

katseized

According to the indictment, the ‘KAT conspiracy’ involved a variety of piracy-related websites. It mentions that the torrent storage service Torcache.net, which went offline together with KAT, was operated by the same people.

In addition, the defendants were involved in a variety of direct download sites where users could download or stream copyright-infringing content, sometimes in exchange for payments.

These sites include the popular streaming portal Solarmovie, which disappeared last month, as well as the defunct torrent leeching service Leechmonster.

“Leechmonster.com, rolly.com, solarmovie.com, solarmovie.ph, iwatchfilm.com, movie2b.com, hippomovies.com, bino.tv, and moviepro.net were commercial websites that enabled registered users to download or stream copyrighted movies and other media directly from the website,” the indictment reads.

katindictment

According to the U.S. Government, the three men used the sites to generate millions of dollars in revenue.

“…defendants […] and others designed, developed, and operated KAT, torcache.net, and the direct download websites in order to encourage, induce, facilitate, engage in, and generate millions of dollars from the unlawful reproduction and distribution of copyright-protected media,” the indictment states.

The authorities describe KickassTorrents as a site that was developed purposefully to facilitate copyright infringements. Among other things, this included the sorting of torrents by genre, so they would be easier to find.

In addition, the defendants are also accused of developing a BitTorrent client to facilitate piracy, and of operating the subtitle repository Subtitlesource.com.

On the money laundering side, the indictment includes various examples of advertising payments that were made to bank accounts that were operated by the defendants. This includes a payment from an undercover IRS investigator, who posed as an advertiser.

The Department of Justice has yet to comment on the indictment and it’s currently unknown where the two additional defendants reside and if they have been arrested. The court record shows that two warrants were submitted yesterday, but these remain sealed for now.

Meanwhile, Artem Vaulin is still being held in a Polish prison, awaiting his extradition process.

His lawyer previously asked the Department of Justice to release his client. The defense argued that Vaulin can’t be held responsible for the potentially infringing actions of the KAT’s users, since criminal secondary or indirect copyright infringement does not exist under U.S. law.

A copy of the full indictment obtained by TorrentFreak is available here.

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and ANONYMOUS VPN services.

Cloudflare Fights RIAA’s Piracy Blocking Demands in Court

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/cloudflare-fights-riaas-piracy-blocking-demands-in-court-160823/

skullRepresenting various major record labels, the RIAA filed a lawsuit against MP3Skull last year.

With millions of visitors per month the MP3 download site had been one of the prime sources of pirated music for a long time, frustrating many music industry insiders.

Although the site was facing a claim of millions of dollars in damages, the owners failed to respond in court. This prompted the RIAA to file for a default judgment, with success.

Earlier this year a Florida federal court awarded the labels more than $22 million in damages. In addition, it issued a permanent injunction which allowed the RIAA to take over the site’s domain names.

However, despite the million dollar verdict, MP3Skull still continues to operate today. The site actually never stopped and simply added several new domain names to its arsenal, with mp3skull.vg as the most recent.

MP3Skull’s most recent home

mp3skullvg

The RIAA is not happy with MP3Skull’s contempt of court and has asked Cloudflare to help out. As a CDN provider, Cloudflare relays traffic of millions of websites through its network, including many pirate sites.

According to the RIAA, Cloudflare should stop offering its services to any MP3Skull websites, but the CDN provider has thus far refused to do so without a proper court order.

To resolve this difference of opinion, the RIAA has asked the Florida federal court for a “clarification” of the existing injunction, so it applies to Cloudflare as well.

In practice, this would mean that Cloudflare has to block all currently active domains, as well as any future domains with the keyword “MP3Skull,” which are tied to the site’s known IP-addresses.

“Cloudflare should be required to cease its provision of services to any of the Active MP3Skull Domains, as well as any website at either 89.46.100.104 or 151.80.100.107 that includes ‘MP3Skull’ in its name,” RIAA argued.

RIAA’s request

riaareq

However, Cloudflare believes that this goes too far. While the company doesn’t object to disconnecting existing accounts if ordered to by a court, adding a requirement to block sites based on a keyword and IP-address goes too far.

The proposed injunction goes well beyond the scope of the DMCA, the CDN provider informs the court in an opposition brief this week (pdf).

“…Plaintiffs’ proposed injunction would force Cloudflare —which provides services to millions of websites— to investigate open-ended domain letter-string and IP address combinations to comply with the injunction.

“Cloudflare believes that this Court should hold the Plaintiffs accountable for following clear rules of the road,” Cloudflare adds.

The company suggests that the court could require it to terminate specific accounts that are found to be infringing, but doesn’t want to become the RIAA’s copyright cop.

“What Cloudflare cannot do, and which the Court should not require, is to serve as a deputy for the Plaintiffs and their RIAA trade association in investigating and identifying further targets of an injunction.”

To outsiders the difference between RIAA’s request and what Cloudflare suggests may seem small, but the company draws a clear line to prevent having to scan for pirate sites, proactively. This could turn into a slippery censorship slope, they feel.

This isn’t the first time that the RIAA has requested a keyword ban. In a similar case last year Cloudflare was ordered to terminate any accounts with the term “grooveshark” in them. However, in this case the RIAA owned the trademark, which makes it substantially different as it doesn’t involve the DMCA.

The EFF applauds Cloudflare’s actions and hopes the court will properly limit the scope of these and other blocking efforts.

“The limits on court orders against intermediaries are vital safeguards against censorship, especially where the censorship is done on behalf of a well-financed party,” EFF’s Mitch Stoltz writes.

“That’s why it’s important for courts to uphold those limits even in cases where copyright or trademark infringement seems obvious,” he adds.

The Florida court is expected to rule on the RIAA’s injunction demands during the days to come, a decision that will significantly impact future blocking requests.

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and ANONYMOUS VPN services.

Denuvo Weakens After ‘Inside’ Gets Cracked in Record Time

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/denuvo-weakens-after-inside-cracked-in-record-time-160824/

denuvoDozens of anti-piracy techniques have been tested over the years on formats ranging from cassette tapes to digital downloads, but for pirates the lure of free content is both intoxicating and enduring.

In recent years, games developers have come to accept that piracy cannot be eradicated entirely, but it can be slowed down. The main aim in the modern era is to stop games leaking in the days, weeks and early months following their launch. This allows titles, especially those with high production costs, to make the best of those crucial early days.

In no insignificant terms that breathing room has been provided by Austrian anti-piracy outfit Denuvo. Its anti-tamper technology is quite possibly the best there is and as a result, many so-called AAA titles have remained piracy free since their launch. Just recently, however, significant cracks (excuse the pun) have appeared in its armor.

Early this month, a ‘Scene’ group called CONSPIR4CY properly cracked an iteration of Denuvo that had been protecting Rise of the Tomb Raider (ROTTR). The news had many pirates extremely excited.

While undoubtedly a momentous occasion, ROTTR had been released in January, meaning that in theory CONSPIR4CY might have worked on the crack for six or seven months, a lifetime for most pirates. Furthermore, half a year’s head start is huge for the title’s developers in terms of sales, so without doubt Denuvo had done its job.

Yesterday, however, there was a new development which might represent a more worrying chink in Denuvo’s defenses.

With a lack of fanfare usually associated with some of the Scene’s more mature groups, CONSPIR4CY (a reported collaboration between the CPY and CODEX groups) released a fully cracked version of puzzle-platformer ‘Inside

inside-nfo

The importance here is that while ROTTR enjoyed six months without having to compete with free, Inside was released for Windows on July 7, 2016. No one but CONSPIR4CY knows precisely when they began chipping away at the game’s protection but even if they started on day one, it has taken only six weeks to defeat it.

There is some speculation that Inside took less time to crack because in storage terms it’s a smaller sized game that ROTTR. That being said, it will be of little consolation to Danish developer Playdead who will have paid Denuvo handsomely for their protection.

With CONSPIR4CY all but impossible to find, let alone obtain a comment from, TorrentFreak asked game cracker Royalgamer06, a colleague of Voksi who found a Denuvo workaround earlier this month, for his thoughts on the new release.

“It’s quite obvious that CONSPIR4CY is beating Denuvo. At least the current Denuvo protection,” Royalgamer06 told TF.

“Inside’s Denuvo protection is quite recent and therefore we could expect all sorts of Denuvo (Steam) games coming from [CONSPIR4CY].”

Royalgamer06 believes that it may have only taken CONSPIR4CY two weeks to crack Inside and that another big game’s debut (also Denuvo protected) might have influenced the pirate release yesterday.

“It took [CONSPIR4CY] two weeks. They either waited to release it (just before the new Deus Ex game is nice timing) or it’s all the time it took them to patch all in-game triggers and polish the crack,” he explains.

So all eyes now turn to the brand new release of Deus Ex Mankind Divided. If that game is quickly cracked by CONSPIR4CY, Denuvo could be coming out in a cold sweat. In the meantime, others are also attempting to dismantle their empire.

“Voksi is also up to something,” Royalgamer06 concludes.

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and ANONYMOUS VPN services.

Cloudflare Faces Lawsuit For Assisting Pirate Sites

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/cloudflare-faces-lawsuit-for-assisting-pirate-sites-160823/

cloudflareAs one of the leading providers of DDoS protection and an easy to use CDN service, Cloudflare is used by millions of sites across the globe.

This includes many “pirate” sites who rely on the U.S. based company to keep server loads down.

The Pirate Bay is one of the best-known customers, but there are literally are thousands of other ‘pirate’ sites that use services from the San Francisco company.

As a result, copyright holders are not happy with CloudFlare’s actions. Just recently, the Hollywood-affiliated group Digital Citizens Alliance called the company out for helping pirate sites to stay online.

Adult entertainment outfit ALS Scan agrees and has now become the first dissenter to take CloudFlare to court. In a complaint filed at a California federal court, ALS describes piracy as the greatest threat to its business.

The rise of online piracy has significantly hurt the company’s profits, they argue, noting that “pirate” sites are not the only problem.

“The problems faced by ALS are not limited to the growing presence of sites featuring infringing content, or ‘pirate’ sites. A growing number of service providers are helping pirate sites thrive by supporting and engaging in commerce with these sites,” ALS writes (pdf).

These service providers include hosting companies, CDN providers, but also advertising brokers. The lawsuit at hand zooms in on two of them, CloudFlare and the advertising provider Juicy Ads.

According to the complaint, both companies have failed to cut their ties with alleged pirate sites, even though they received multiple takedown notices.

CloudFlare and Juicy Ads’ terms state that they terminate accounts of repeat infringers. However, according to ALS both prefer to keep these sites on as customers, so they can continue to profit from them.

“Even though the law requires parties to terminate business with repeat infringers, and even though both Juicy Ads and Cloudflare’s own terms
state that they will terminate business with repeat infringers, neither Juicy Ads nor Cloudflare has terminated its business accounts with these chronic direct infringers.

“On information and belief, this is because Juicy Ads and Cloudflare make money by continuing to do commerce with sites that draw traffic through the lure of free infringing content,” the company writes.

The complaint lists Imgchili.net, Slimpics.com, Cumonmy.com, Bestofsexpics.com and Stooorage.com and CloudFlare customers that host copyright infringing material from ALS, and as of today these sites are still using the CDN provider’s services.

Juicy Ads reportedly terminated the accounts of several infringing sites after they learned about the lawsuit, but that doesn’t mean that it can escape liability for its earlier actions.

ALS holds both companies responsible for various counts of copyright and trademark infringement, for which it demands actual and statutory damages. With hundreds of works at stake, theoretical damages can run to dozens of millions of dollars.

Both CloudFlare and Juicy Ads have yet to file a formal response to the allegations.

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and ANONYMOUS VPN services.

PIPCU’s Operation Creative Gets New Leader & New Backers

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/pipcus-operation-creative-gets-new-leader-new-backers-160823/

Back in 2013, major torrent sites began receiving letters from the UK’s National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB), a City of London Police unit tasked with identifying organized crime groups in order to disrupt their activities.

Behind the scenes, the fledgling Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) had been working with the Federation Against Copyright Theft (FACT), the British Recorded Music Industry (BPI) and The Publishers Association with the aim of closing as many torrent and streaming sites as possible.

In time, this initiative became known as Operation Creative, a multi-pronged effort to reduce piracy using a variety of tactics, including the targeting of domains and the disruption of revenue streams.

The latter included the development of the Infringing Website List (IWL), a blacklist of websites distributed to potential advertisers and agencies who are asked to boycott the domains in the name of supporting creators.

The police, on the other hand, reportedly placed their own ads on some ‘pirate’ sites in an effort to scare would-be pirates.

Operation Creative is now in its third year and with that anniversary comes the appointment of a brand new senior officer to head up the initiative.

Detective Constable Steve Salway joins PIPCU having spent time at the National Fraud Investigation Bureau (NFIB) as a disruptions team investigator. During his time there, Salway is reported to have overseen the closure of “hundreds of criminal websites” worldwide.

While NFIB is involved in tackling IP infringement, the unit also has responsibility for investigating a wide variety of online crimes including financial fraud and identity theft. Salway’s work there crossed over with PIPCU operations and enticed him in.

“Operation Creative is leading the way in disrupting UK online digital piracy, and now it’s time to take success to the next level by exploring different tactics like maximising disruption opportunities around criminal revenue,” Salway says.

“My experience in tackling online crime and closing down criminal internet infrastructures will be applied to all future referrals and I am proud to be part of this new era for the initiative.”

PIPCU’s new dedicated officer puts the successes of Operation Creative down to the strength of the partnerships the police have forged with the private sector.

In addition to FACT, BPI and The PA, the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI), PRS for music and the Association for UK Interactive Entertainment (UKIE) are all members. Coinciding with Salway’s appointment, the initiative now welcomes a new member in the form of the Music Publishers Association (MPA).

The MPA has a mission to “safeguard and promote” the interests of music publishers and writers while representing their interests to government, the rest of the industry, and the public. It currently boast around 260 members and 4,000 music catalogues.

“I am pleased to welcome the Music Publishers Association to the Operation Creative initiative,” says PIPCU head Detective Chief Inspector Peter Ratcliffe.

“The Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit is committed to reducing the impact of intellectual property crime on the UK’s creative industries and in Creative we have a wonderful tool to disrupt the infringers’ revenue streams and hit them where it hurts them the most.”

While providing no specific details, Ratcliffe says that since Operation Creative is “entering a new phase”, new supporters will help strengthen its ranks.

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and ANONYMOUS VPN services.

KickassTorrents ‘Front Company’ Disappears From Web

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/kickasstorrents-front-company-disappears-from-web-160822/

After becoming the world’s largest torrent site months before, July 20 saw KickassTorrents’ reign collapse when the organization was dismantled by US law enforcement.

In addition to the site going offline, KAT’s alleged founder, Artem Vaulin, was arrested in Poland, from where the United States Government is now demanding his extradition.

In a criminal complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Chicago, Vaulin is charged with conspiracy to commit criminal copyright infringement, conspiracy to commit money laundering, and two counts of criminal copyright infringement. All of these offences are naturally connected with KAT but according to US authorities, at least one other entity was closely involved.

If its website was to be believed, Cryptoneat was a sizeable web company with perhaps dozens of employees. It first appeared online in 2014 and months later was updated with a very basic logo.

crypto-1

For non-Russian speakers the message underneath the graphic reads “With no zombies”.

Over the months that followed the site had periodic updates and by August 2015 was sporting a new logo and some early indications of what its business might be.

“We develop our own products. From concept to the user’s screen,” a statement read.

crypto-2

“Cryptoneat is a software development company crafting our own products since 2008. Our latest project is Wine scanner iOS application Wineeapp.com,” the site read in January 2016.

“We support personal responsibility and involvement with no over-management standing in the way of imagination and creative thinking. Flexible schedules and smart workspace. We hold to the ergonomics cult: Herman Miller chairs, standing desks, Apple hardware and multi-monitor configurations.”

Cryptoneat’s logo was developed by former architect and Ukrainian graphic artist Andrey Koval. There’s no suggestion that Koval was directly involved in Cryptoneat or KAT, but he does share the same location, Kharkiv, the second-largest city in Ukraine.

Koval did not immediately respond to TorrentFreak’s requests for comment but we did manage to find a video which showcases the Cryptoneat logo he created for the company.

Cryptogram from CRYPTONEAT on Vimeo.

Cryptoneat operated from two URLs, .COM and .UA. In the early days following Vaulin’s arrest the sites were operational, but both have now disappeared. Perhaps not surprising given the statements made by the US Department of Justice.

“During a significant part of the conspiracy, Vaulin has operated KAT under the auspices of a Ukrainian-based front company called Cryptoneat,” wrote Jared Der-Yeghiayan, a Special Agent with Homeland Security Investigations.

“As of on or about June 20, 2016, Vaulin’s LinkedIn profile identifies him as the founder of Cryptoneat and lists the company’s creation date as November 2009. On Cryptoneat’s Instagram and Facebook page I have viewed pictures of Vaulin purportedly at Cryptoneat’s office.”

Cryptoneat’s Facebook and Instagram accounts have since been disabled. Various LinkedIn profiles relating to Vaulin and other employees have been edited. Having previously indicated the Cryptoneat’s employees could potentially number as many as 50, the company’s main LinkedIn page now list the company’s size as “myself only.”

Slowly but surely the company is disappearing from the web, with just a couple of pages now available via Google’s cache. One offers coding jobs with a competitive salary, paid vacation and holidays, health insurance, a stocked kitchen and gym fees.

But now, a month following KAT’s shutdown, Cryptoneat’s online presence has taken another hit. Two days ago the site’s .COM domain ceased to function after its two-year registration period expired.

crypto-3

Unlike several other KickassTorrents-related domains, the US Government doesn’t appear interested in seizing Cryptoneat’s domains at this stage, even though it clearly states that the Ukraine-based company was used as a KAT front. Indeed, the Homeland Security investigation found that at least several Cryptoneat employees worked on KickassTorrents.

“Many of the employees found on LinkedIn who present themselves as working for Cryptoneat are the same employees who received assignments from Vaulin in the KAT alert emails,” Special Agent Jared Der-Yeghiayan reported.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the three main individuals mentioned by Der-Yeghiayan (although not by name in the criminal complaint) have removed Cryptoneat from their resumes. Lower ranking employees have left their history in place but moved on to new jobs.

Given the apparent size of the Cryptoneat operation, it’s not yet clear why the US Government has only reported one arrest thus far. It’s certainly likely that it has more cards up its sleeve but it could be a considerable length of time before those are revealed in public.

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and ANONYMOUS VPN services.

Cox Denies Liability for Pirating Subscribers, Appeals $25 Million Verdict

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/cox-denies-liability-for-pirating-subscribers-appeals-25-million-verdict-160822/

cox-logoLast December a Virginia federal jury ruled that Internet provider Cox Communications was responsible for the copyright infringements of its subscribers.

The ISP was found guilty of willful contributory copyright infringement and must pay music publisher BMG Rights Management $25 million in damages.

The verdict was a massive victory for the music company and a disaster for Cox, but the case is not closed yet.

After a failed motion for judgment as a matter of law earlier this month, the ISP has now informed the court that it will take the case to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.

Cox denies any wrongdoing and hopes to get a judgment in its favor at the appeals court.

Cox’s appeal notice

coxappeal

Considering the gravity of the case, Cox’s move is not surprising. The liability verdict has come as a shock to the Internet provider industry, as it suggests that providers have to actively disconnect repeat infringers.

At the moment, many ISPs don’t have a solid policy in place where repeat copyright infringers lose their subscription. In fact, the law doesn’t prescribe when and based on what evidence an ISP has to terminate an account.

Up until now, several Internet providers argued that only a court could determine if a subscriber is a repeat infringer, but with the Cox verdict this has now become uncertain.

After the appeal, which is expected to take several months at least, both Cox and BMG still have the option to take the case to the Supreme Court.

Meanwhile, anti-piracy outfit Rightscorp is using the current verdict to threaten other ISPs to forward their notices. Thus far, however, this doesn’t appear to have had much effect.

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and ANONYMOUS VPN services.

Indian Piracy Blocks Scare Torrent Users With 3-Year Prison Sentence

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/indian-piracy-blocks-scare-torrent-users-prison-sentence-160822/

stop-blockedStarting a few days ago, many Indian Internet users noticed that their favorite torrent websites were blocked and displaying a rather scary message.

The blocks themselves are nothing new. For years Indian copyright holders have sought to protect their content from unauthorized online distribution.

This has mainly taken the form of so-called ‘John Doe’ orders where access to sites such as The Pirate Bay or ExtraTorrent is restricted to protect copyrighted content from being freely shared.

However, the warning message that’s currently presented when attempting to access blocked sites has a lot of people worried.

The notice reads that the site in question has been blocked per instruction of the Government or through a court order, similar to what it said before. In addition, it adds that those who still access the content in question may face up to three years in prison and a hefty fine.

“Viewing, downloading, exhibiting or duplicating an illicit copy of the contents under this URL is punishable as an offence under the laws of India, including but not limited to under Sections 63, 63-A, 65 and 65-A of the Copyright Act, 1957 which prescribe imprisonment for 3 years and also fine of up to Rs. 3,00,000/-.”

The new blocking message

indiablock

A relatively small change, but one with widespread impact it seems.

Several Indian news outlets have started to warn their readership that the threat is real. India Today, for example, reports that merely downloading a torrent file or viewing a copyrighted image from a file-hosting site may land people in prison.

“You don’t have to download a torrent file, and then the actual videos or other files, which might have copyright. Just accessing information under a blocked URL will land you in jail and leave your bank account poorer by Rs 3 lakh,” the news site reports.

While the warning message can be interpreted in various ways, very little appears to have changed. There’s no new law that introduces higher sentences. In fact, the message clearly quotes India’s 1957 Copyright Act.

In addition, there are no signs that the authorities are planning to crack down on individual file-sharers. Let alone people who merely download a torrent file, not the infringing content itself.

There is a recent court case that may have spurred the recent change though.

Earlier this year the Government’s Department of Electronics and Information Technology actually intervened in one of the “John Doe” cases on behalf of the public, arguing against site-wide blocks.

In this case, the High Court decided against the Government, arguing that broad blockades are warranted. Among other things, the Court found that it is the “duty of the government” to “assist in the enforcement of court orders.”

In this light it could be that the Government “assisted” in updating the language of the blocking message.

From the information we’ve seen thus far, the wording of the blocking notification is the only thing that has changed so far. But, considering the response from the media and public, this is already quite effective as a deterrent.

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and ANONYMOUS VPN services.

Top 10 Most Pirated Movies of The Week – 08/22/16

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/top-10-pirated-movies-week-082216/

nowyouseeThis week we have three newcomers in our chart.

Now You See Me 2 is the most downloaded movie.

The data for our weekly download chart is estimated by TorrentFreak, and is for informational and educational reference only. All the movies in the list are Web-DL/Webrip/HDRip/BDrip/DVDrip unless stated otherwise.

RSS feed for the weekly movie download chart.

Ranking (last week) Movie IMDb Rating / Trailer
torrentfreak.com
1 (…) Now You See Me 2 6.8 / trailer
2 (1) Independence Day: Resurgence (Subbed HDRip) 5.6 / trailer
3 (2) The Legend of Tarzan (Subbed HDRip) 6.6 / trailer
4 (…) Neighbors 2 6.0 / trailer
5 (…) Imperium 6.7 / trailer
6 (3) The Jungle Book 7.8 / trailer
7 (6) Suicide Squad (HDTS) 6.9 / trailer
8 (4) Warcraft 7.7 / trailer
9 (7) Jason Bourne (CAM/TS) 7.4 / trailer
10 (5) The Nice Guys 7.7 / trailer

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and ANONYMOUS VPN services.

Fail: Anti-Piracy Outfits Send Takedown Request For Non-Existent Torrents

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/fail-anti-piracy-outfits-send-takedown-request-for-non-existent-torrents-160821/

failOver the past years a lot has been said about the effectiveness and accuracy of DMCA takedown practices.

Rightsholders often complain that it’s impossible to keep content offline, while critics warn about mistakes caused by automated takedown bots.

The latter has been illustrated anecdotally, but we recently stumbled upon a rather worrying development that illustrates just how far anti-piracy groups are prepared to go when it comes to fabricating “evidence”.

One of the companies involved is IP-Echelon, which sends takedown notices on behalf of HBO and Paramount Pictures, among others.

Looking through their recent submissions we see notices targeting sites that allegedly distribute popular content such as recent episodes of Game of Thrones, Ballers, and Silicon Valley.

Among the sites reported are The Pirate Bay, ExtraTorrent and various lesser known sites. However, our eye was drawn to Zoink.it and Torrage.com.

The latter two have been operating as so-called torrent caches for a long time. These don’t have a searchable index of torrents, but serve as a hosting platform for torrent sites, identifying torrents by their unique hash.

For example, a torrent for an episode of Ballers that aired a few weeks ago has the hash C87000EF73557A488D5C21BF8F9FA4CC24EC0513. This file would then be available at Zoink under the following url:

zoink.it/torrent/C87000EF73557A488D5C21BF8F9FA4CC24EC0513.torrent.

We say would be, because Zoink.it was shut down at the end of 2014. The same is true for the other torrent cache, Torrage, which has been offline for quite a while as well.

However, the takedown notices IP-Echelon sends on behalf of HBO and Paramount pictures still list these sites with hashes of new torrents, which never existed when the sites were still online.

ballers

How can this be? Well, it seems obvious that IP-Echelon is fabricating URLs based on torrent hashes without checking if they even exist. This isn’t an isolated mistake either, as the company is sending dozens of these fabricated notices per month.

In this case, no harm has been done. The sites in question are offline and can’t be punished by Google’s downranking algorithm. However, the fact that they keep fabricating links more than a year after sites have disappeared, shows that there is little oversight.

TorrentFreak spoke to the former hosting provider of Zoink and Torrage who confirms that both sites remain targeted, and not just by IP-Echelon.

Indian anti-piracy outfit MarkScan is also sending takedown notices to Zoink and Torrage’s former hosting provider on a regular basis, we were informed. In addition, the company is also sending takedown requests to Google for new torrents, as does Rico Management.

It’s safe to say that these anti-piracy outfits are quite sloppy, to say the least. Of course, copyright holders have the right to protect their content, but they have to play by the rules.

Making up evidence certainly doesn’t look good in this regard.

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and ANONYMOUS VPN services.

How Legitimate Content Killed an “Ethical” Torrent Site

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/how-legitimate-content-killed-an-ethical-torrent-site-160821/

When peer-to-peer file-sharing networks started to gain traction more than a decade and a half ago, it soon became clear that if entertainment industries were to compete, they’d need to step up their game.

In the early 2000s, for example, users of Sharman Networks’ Kazaa software already had wide and free access to music and video titles. The introduction of BitTorrent shortly after only turned up the pressure.

Fifteen years down the line it’s now clearer than ever. The true enemy of illicit file-sharing is broad and convenient access to all content at a fair price. In the meantime, however, platforms such as torrent sites continue to pick up the slack. More than a decade ago, they were leading the charge.

Founded in 2003/4, torrent site UKNova took a somewhat unusual approach to its offering. Rather than the free-for-all witnessed on most platforms, UKNova aimed to responsibly service UK-based consumers and those overseas with select content that couldn’t easily be obtained by other means.

Initially, the site catered to a few ex-pats who were desperate for their fix of long-running TV soap, Eastenders. It had been made available in the States by BBC America, but in 2003 the iconic show was dropped.

“After initially sending VHS tapes across the Atlantic, a daring foray into the unknown world of trackers and torrents was made by brave visionaries and uknova.com was born,” a site operator told TorrentFreak.

“UKNova rapidly became known as the ‘go-to’ place for UK television and for a while was probably the leading private tracker catering to ex-pats and Anglophiles around the world.”

Most private torrent sites have strict rules, but UKNova went a step further than most by only allowing UK-produced TV content that was not available on DVD or premium channels. But despite the restrictions, UKNova was a success.

“Membership rapidly grew and was voluntarily limited to between 30,000 and 40,000 members. Forum activity could become so heavy that server problems arose, leading to an iconic ‘Mind The Gap‘ message.”

But UKNova was much more than just a torrent site. Like many niche trackers, UKNova had a thriving close-knit community centered around the theme and culture of UK TV. With assistance from the site’s radio station, those friendships thrived beyond the digital space.

“Events and activities grew from the forums: picnics and meet-ups, annual awards ceremonies with live radio, mugs and t-shirts, fantasy football leagues, and above all solidarity for members who were in need, ill or deceased,” the operator explains.

“There were at least four marriages resulting from friendships struck up on UKNova’s forums and IRC chat.”

Due to the nature of UK TV (free to view, for those who pay the standard license fee), UKNova offered a lot of BBC content. Back in the early days BBC iPlayer simply did not exist so once shows disappeared off air, that was that until the corporation decided to bring them back. UKNova not only filled that gap, but even received a request to help the BBC complete its archives.

“During this time relations with the BBC were cordial. In one case UKNova was even asked if they could find a missing recording of documentary series Horizon,” a site representative explains.

But by 2012, the atmosphere had begun to shift.

“UKNova is being forced to change,” an operator told TF at the time. “We have been issued with a ‘cease and desist’ order by FACT (Federation Against Copyright Theft.”

FACT was clear in its demands. All copyrighted content needed to come down, no matter where that content had come from and despite the fact that UKNova had never had a complaint from any TV station since its inception. The site didn’t believe it could be successfully prosecuted but had no way of defending itself.

“UKNova has never had any source of revenue other than donations to help pay for the servers and bandwidth. In latter years the site survived uniquely on private donations from Staff,” TF was told.

Within weeks UKNova shut down, but the dream wasn’t quite over yet.

“In 2013 a group of independent users decided to re-ignite the flame with a new site which was kept as low profile as possible. This site kept the ethos of the original UKNova, with the same rules concerning commercially available material,” a site veteran explains.

This, it appears, was to be the site’s ultimate undoing. The environment in 2013 was massively different to that of 2003. Legitimate services were appearing left and right, meaning that the content pool available to UKNova users under the site’s own stringent rules was diminishing every day.

UKNova’s decision to maintain its position as “the ethical torrent site” was cutting off its own oxygen supply and over the next three years the site began to die.

“In 2016 it became clear that the advent of the BBC Store and Amazon Video, linked to the quasi-immediate availability of shows from other channels on DVD, meant that allowable content was shrinking daily,” a site operator explains.

With the main reason for people visiting the site diminishing all the time, members had less and less to talk about. The continued rise of external and mainstream social media only exacerbated the situation.

“The discussion forums were grinding to a halt and membership was gradually shrinking. Rather than flogging a dead horse it seemed appropriate to turn out the lights, lock the door and gracefully retire.”

On Saturday August 7, UKNova’s trackers were taken offline. A week later the site was shuttered completely. UKNova was dead, this time for real.

“It’s been a good long run, so much good has been done, and so much fun has been had, by so many people – a unique experience. But all good things..,” the site said in a closing statement.

While FACT’s intervention was certainly an unwelcome one, it seems fairly clear that its own strict rules and the availability of legitimate content was what ultimately led to UKNova’s demise. Sadly, however, UKNova’s initial goals of serving the ex-pat community are still proving a problem today.

Only last week, FACT and the UK’s Police Intellectual Property Unit shut down an IPTV service directly aimed at British citizens living abroad.

PIPCU said that the platform had many thousands of customers, showing that a potentially lucrative market still exists if only someone, somewhere, would service it. Someone will, but it won’t be UKNova.

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and ANONYMOUS VPN services.