Tag Archives: russia

Pirate Site Revenues in Russia Set to Plummet, First Fall in Five Years

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/pirate-site-revenues-in-russia-plummet-first-fall-in-five-years-191031/

In what is becoming an increasingly competitive market, generating revenue by any means is a must for most significant sites, platforms, and services operating in the piracy space.

In Russia, pirate platforms have been experiencing an upward revenue trend for many years but according to a forecast just published by cybersecurity firm Group-IB, 2019 is set to be much less lucrative.

For background, in 2015 revenues were estimated to be $32m but a year later the picture had changed significantly with the market almost doubling in size to $62m. In 2017 there was a further 21% uplift to $85m but in 2018 things began to slow down, with a small 2.3% growth delivering estimated revenues of $87m.

In its latest analysis, the company states that for the first time in half a decade, revenues are set to collapse. Group-IB predicts a figure of around $63.5m for 2019, a drop of 27% compared to estimates for 2018 published last year.

Source: Group-IB

The reasons cited for the dramatic downward shift are numerous. Russia has been tightening its anti-piracy laws almost every year, including site-blocking and in particular, the ability to block repeat-infringer sites and their mirrors/proxies on a permanent basis.

However, the “tectonic shift”, as the company describes it, came as a result of the voluntary anti-piracy memorandum signed in 2018.

Internet platforms including Yandex, Mail.ru, Rambler and Gazprom Media, in conjunction with major content companies, agreed to the creation of an infringing content database which signals which URLs to remove from search results. Around 600,000 links to pirated copies of movies and TV shows are currently included.

The arrangement officially expired early October but an extension was subsequently agreed, with an option to continue until the end of the year if a bill to enshrine its terms in law is submitted to the State Duma by the end of this month. In the meantime, the effects of the agreement haven’t gone unnoticed.

“In the previous years, even if pirated content was removed from a web page, a user still could open the web page, finding it in the search engine, and see the advertisement placed on it, bringing money to online-pirates,” says Andrey Busargin, Director of Brand Protection and Anti-Piracy at Group-IB.

“In 2019, on the contrary, a user was not always able to open a resource with pirated video content, even intentionally.”

Pirate site operators have other advertising issues too. Group-IB estimates that the average earnings for a pirate site via advertising are around $10,000 per month, with online casinos and gaming platforms providing most of the income.

“The active work of the Russian Federal Tax Service against bookmakers and gambling led to the pushing out of advertisers of pirated websites,” Busargin notes.

“For example, Azino777, a highly affiliated provider of advertising services for pirate CDNs, has already lost its leading position.”

Many streaming portals in the region utilize these ‘pirate’ CDNs which bundle video and advertising into a single package. As recently reported, however, several major players were either taken down after legal action by BREIN, the MPA, and the Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment, or shut down as a direct result. At least temporarily, this could be affecting up to 80% of the pirate streaming market.

Nevertheless, there remains a thirst among Russian consumers for pirated content, so solutions are likely to be found. Group-IB says that the volume of search requests seeking pirated movies and TV shows increased by 0.06% in 2019, to 10.4 billion.

But there is also a cultural problem faced by content companies. A survey published in September by security company ESET suggested that just 9% of respondents prefer legal content over pirated, with 75% citing high prices as their motivation.

That being said, their supply will only continue if pirate sites can make money at their end, so it will be interesting to see whether their 2020 revenues continue on a downward trend.

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and more. We also have VPN reviews, discounts, offers and coupons.

New Reductor Nation-State Malware Compromises TLS

Post Syndicated from Bruce Schneier original https://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2019/10/new_reductor_na.html

Kaspersky has a detailed blog post about a new piece of sophisticated malware that it’s calling Reductor. The malware is able to compromise TLS traffic by infecting the computer with hacked TLS engine substituted on the fly, “marking” infected TLS handshakes by compromising the underlining random-number generator, and adding new digital certificates. The result is that the attacker can identify, intercept, and decrypt TLS traffic from the infected computer.

The Kaspersky Attribution Engine shows strong code similarities between this family and the COMPfun Trojan. Moreover, further research showed that the original COMpfun Trojan most probably is used as a downloader in one of the distribution schemes. Based on these similarities, we’re quite sure the new malware was developed by the COMPfun authors.

The COMpfun malware was initially documented by G-DATA in 2014. Although G-DATA didn’t identify which actor was using this malware, Kaspersky tentatively linked it to the Turla APT, based on the victimology. Our telemetry indicates that the current campaign using Reductor started at the end of April 2019 and remained active at the time of writing (August 2019). We identified targets in Russia and Belarus.

[…]

Turla has in the past shown many innovative ways to accomplish its goals, such as using hijacked satellite infrastructure. This time, if we’re right that Turla is the actor behind this new wave of attacks, then with Reductor it has implemented a very interesting way to mark a host’s encrypted TLS traffic by patching the browser without parsing network packets. The victimology for this new campaign aligns with previous Turla interests.

We didn’t observe any MitM functionality in the analyzed malware samples. However, Reductor is able to install digital certificates and mark the targets’ TLS traffic. It uses infected installers for initial infection through HTTP downloads from warez websites. The fact the original files on these sites are not infected also points to evidence of subsequent traffic manipulation.

The attribution chain from Reductor to COMPfun to Turla is thin. Speculation is that the attacker behind all of this is Russia.

Landmark Russian Anti-Piracy Agreement Extended Until End October 2019

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/landmark-russian-anti-piracy-agreement-extended-until-end-october-191007/

Last year, leading Russia-based content companies and distributors plus Yandex, Rambler Group, Mail.Ru Group, vKontakte, and RuTube signed up to a landmark anti-piracy memorandum.

It would see search engines voluntarily query a centralized database of allegedly-infringing content before deleting links to the same from their search results. However, while waiting for the terms of that agreement to be written into law, last Monday the time-limited memorandum expired.

As reported last week, content companies hoped that search engines would continue the deletions, despite the agreement expiring. It now transpires that following further negotiations, the parties have agreed to an official extension of the memorandum.

According to sources cited by Vedomosti, leading search engine Yandex didn’t disappoint rightsholders since it continued to delete ‘pirate’ links even after the expiry date. One of the signatories to the agreement added that the parties now intend to carry on with the terms of the memorandum until the end of October 2019.

The official four-week extension has been put in place so that the draft law can be finalized and introduced to the State Duma before the end of the month.

If this happens as planned, the anti-piracy memorandum will receive an automatic secondary extension until the end of the year, telecoms watchdog Roscomnadzor reports.

“The memorandum has been extended until October 31, 2019. If the bill is submitted to the State Duma no later than October 31, 2019, the memorandum will be automatically extended until December 31, 2019,” a spokesperson told TASS.

While the extra month’s worth of breathing space will be useful, there is still no news of agreement on the issue said to have played a key role in the delay.

Rightsholders and content companies have demanded the introduction of a so-called ‘repeat infringer’ clause, which would see sites permanently removed from search results if they are continually flagged as hosting or linking to ‘pirate’ content.

Internet companies are strongly in opposition so a compromise may be needed, especially if the end-of-the-month deadline is to be met.

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and more. We also have VPN reviews, discounts, offers and coupons.

New Research into Russian Malware

Post Syndicated from Bruce Schneier original https://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2019/10/new_research_in_1.html

There’s some interesting new research about Russian APT malware:

The Russian government has fostered competition among the three agencies, which operate independently from one another, and compete for funds. This, in turn, has resulted in each group developing and hoarding its tools, rather than sharing toolkits with their counterparts, a common sight among Chinese and North Korean state-sponsored hackers.

“Every actor or organization under the Russain APT umbrella has its own dedicated malware development teams, working for years in parallel on similar malware toolkits and frameworks,” researchers said.

“While each actor does reuse its code in different operations and between different malware families, there is no single tool, library or framework that is shared between different actors.”

Researchers say these findings suggest that Russia’s cyber-espionage apparatus is investing a lot of effort into its operational security.

“By avoiding different organizations re-using the same tools on a wide range of targets, they overcome the risk that one compromised operation will expose other active operations,” researchers said.

This is no different from the US. The NSA malware released by the Shadow Brokers looked nothing like the CIA “Vault 7” malware released by WikiLeaks.

The work was done by Check Point and Intezer Labs. They have a website with an interactive map.

Russia Anti-Piracy Agreement Expires, Now Relies on Goodwill of Search Engines

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/russia-anti-piracy-agreement-expires-now-relies-on-goodwill-of-search-engines-191002/

Following intense pressure on local Internet companies, particularly search giant Yandex, last year an important meeting took place at the headquarters of Russian telecom watchdog Roscomnadzor.

Held between search engines and major copyright holders, the aim was to find a solution to the online proliferation of copyrighted content. By early November consensus had been reached, with Channel One, the National Media Group, Gazprom-Media, the Internet Video Association, the Association of Film and Television Producers, Yandex, Rambler Group, Mail.Ru Group, vKontakte, and RuTube signing up to a memorandum.

The voluntary agreement, which was timetabled to run until September 30, 2019, saw the creation of a centralized database of infringing content, maintained by rightsholders. Search companies agreed to query this database every few minutes in order to obtain the URLs of ‘pirate’ material so that they could be removed from search results.

Since the agreement was voluntary and time-limited, it was envisioned that the terms would be written into law, before the memorandum ran out. However, there have been a few points of contention, including a requirement from rightsholders that some continuously-infringing sites should be completely delisted from results, without a court process.

These things naturally take time to work out but in this case, too much time. On Monday, as per the original timetable, the memorandum expired. According to local news outlet RBC, the necessary amendments to copyright law were not submitted to the State Duma before that day, meaning that none of the signatories are bound by the agreement.

Sources at the companies involved told the publication that the memorandum has indeed timed-out but added that an informal agreement has now been reached by the parties to continue compliance for another two weeks. An extension of the agreement until December 31, 2019 had previously been agreed but its terms were not met by September 30.

According to Leonid Levin of the State Duma Committee on Information Policy, the bill to write the terms of the memorandum into law was submitted to the State Duma in a non-finished form. There will reportedly be another meeting between the parties this week.

“As soon as we finalize the document, it will be submitted to the State Duma,” Levin said. “Until then, we hope that all interested parties will continue to adhere to those provisions that were enshrined in the so-called anti-piracy memorandum, which meets all the interests of the industry.”

Roscomnadzor declined to comment on the delay but the Internet Video Association said that it would be “very disappointed” if Internet companies stopped removing links to pirated content due to the memorandum expiring.

At the moment, it appears that the memorandum is surviving on goodwill but according to reports the issue is in the balance. The so-called ‘repeat infringer’ clause, which would see sites permanently removed from search results, is still a point of contention moving into this week’s planned meeting.

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and more. We also have VPN reviews, discounts, offers and coupons.

Russians Hack FBI Comms System

Post Syndicated from Bruce Schneier original https://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2019/09/russians_hack_f.html

Yahoo News reported that the Russians have successfully targeted an FBI communications system:

American officials discovered that the Russians had dramatically improved their ability to decrypt certain types of secure communications and had successfully tracked devices used by elite FBI surveillance teams. Officials also feared that the Russians may have devised other ways to monitor U.S. intelligence communications, including hacking into computers not connected to the internet. Senior FBI and CIA officials briefed congressional leaders on these issues as part of a wide-ranging examination on Capitol Hill of U.S. counterintelligence vulnerabilities.

These compromises, the full gravity of which became clear to U.S. officials in 2012, gave Russian spies in American cities including Washington, New York and San Francisco key insights into the location of undercover FBI surveillance teams, and likely the actual substance of FBI communications, according to former officials. They provided the Russians opportunities to potentially shake off FBI surveillance and communicate with sensitive human sources, check on remote recording devices and even gather intelligence on their FBI pursuers, the former officials said.

It’s unclear whether the Russians were able to recover encrypted data or just perform traffic analysis. The Yahoo story implies the former; the NBC News story says otherwise. It’s hard to tell if the reporters truly understand the difference. We do know, from research Matt Blaze and others did almost ten years ago, that at least one FBI radio system was horribly insecure in practice — but not in a way that breaks the encryption. Its poor design just encourages users to turn off the encryption.

ESET: 91% of Russians Prefer Pirated Content Over Legal

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/eset-91-of-russians-prefer-pirated-content-190924/

In common with most major countries around the world, Russia has problems with piracy, a situation its government is constantly trying to address.

In an effort to deter citizens from using illicit sources, Russia has already developed one of the most aggressive site-blocking regimes anywhere in the world. Thousands of sites are blocked by ISPs on copyright grounds, some permanently

Right now, it is also working on further legislative amendments that will compel search engines to query online databases to ensure that links to allegedly-infringing content are removed from indexes in a matter of minutes.

But while all of that plays out, a new survey carried out by security company ESET suggests that the problem is unusually deep-seated, with just a fraction of respondents stating that they always obtain content from licensed sources.

The study was carried out in September among 2,000 people who were asked, among other things, what type of content they pirate most often. ESET says that many users highlighted more than one type of content but there was a clear leader.

52% of respondents said that ‘cracked’ games are their content of choice, closely followed by 43% who obtain movies and TV shows from unlicensed sources. Just over a third (34%) say they prefer to listen to music from illegal platforms rather than their legal equivalents.

While ‘pirate’ eBook and similar sites have been the subject of several lawsuits in Russia to date, only 14% said that they obtain content from these services. Just under a fifth (19%) of respondents say they install ‘cracked’ software. Perhaps predictably, ESET points out that since malware can come with such releases, its products can come in handy.

Overall, just 9% of all respondents in the study admit to obtaining content exclusively from licensed sources, a pretty measly figure. However, the information released by ESET doesn’t reveal how many of the 91% are ‘dual buyers’, an omission that could prove crucial.

People who pirate content but also obtain some content from licensed sources have been an important factor in more detailed studies carried out elsewhere. These people are regularly viewed as potential converts to 100% legal consumption in the future while offering some hope that the piracy puzzle can be solved in time.

But of course, people in Russia have their own reasons to pirate and it’s the old boogeyman at the top of the list – cost. According to ESET, 75% of respondents said that high prices are the reason to pirate, with just over a third (34%) stating that legal services fall short of their requirements.

Interestingly, ESET says that 25% refuse to pay for licensed content on “ideological” grounds, although it doesn’t elaborate on what they might be. That’s followed up by 16% who say they prefer pirate content because payment systems utilized by legal providers are “inconvenient”.

Finally, while ESET Russia encourages people to comply with relevant anti-piracy laws, it predictably gets in a plug for its own products. Nothing that unlicensed products and ‘cracked’ games can sometimes come with unwanted extras, the company suggests using its anti-virus solutions to combat the threat.

Given the results of the study, there’s plenty of scope for sales, if the company can get anyone to pay.

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and more. We also have VPN reviews, discounts, offers and coupons.

Search Engines Given “Six Hours” to Delete Pirate Links Under New Law

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/search-engines-given-six-hours-to-delete-pirate-links-under-new-law-190903/

Copyright holders who want unlicensed copies of their material removed from online platforms are able to file requests under various laws in the United States and EU, for example.

Search engines such as Google also comply with such requests to remove links from their indexes, often doing so quickly, in many cases just a matter of hours. In Russia, however, removing links from search engines has proven problematic until a war of words in 2018 boiled over into an agreement between major entertainment companies and rights holders.

The memorandum saw companies like Yandex and other search providers agree to interface with a centralized database of allegedly-infringing content to take down links to content quickly. The voluntary agreement wasn’t part of Russian law but work has been going on to formalize its terms.

Local news outlet Vedomosti reports that is has been able to review the text of proposed amendments to copyright law, which the publication says are the result of negotiations between the largest TV companies, streaming providers (generically ‘online cinemas’), as well as Yandex and Mail.ru Group.

Overseen by telecoms watchdog Roscomnadzor, the amendments are an attempt to plug perceived holes in existing legislation. It’s currently possible to have ‘pirate’ web pages blocked quickly using the Moscow Court but the only deletions of specific URLs from search engines thus far have been voluntary ones, carried out under the memorandum.

The amendments will allow copyright holders to force search engines to delete allegedly-infringing links from their indexes without going to court, and within an extremely tight timeframe of six hours from notification.

According to local sources, copyright holders will be able to hire Roscomnadzor-approved companies to maintain databases of allegedly-infringing content on their behalf. There will not be any limit placed on the number of registries in use, as long as the authorities approve them.

Once these registries have been established, search engines will be required to interface with them within 10 days to obtain the details of allegedly infringing content. From the moment new content is registered, search companies will have to delete the corresponding entries from their indexes within six hours. Registries will have to be queried every five minutes.

It appears that after months of struggling with the details, the amendments to the law have now been completed are being sent to the presidential administration. From there they will be transferred to the State Duma’s Information Policy Committee for additional work before being submitted to parliament.

The chairman of the committee, Leonid Levin, confirmed he would receive the texts of the amendments in the coming days but added no further detail. It remains unclear whether a rightsholders’ request to have entire domains delisted from search results is still being entertained.

In common with many similar initiatives, this one has taken longer than expected. The draft anti-piracy amendments should’ve been submitted to the State Duma before the end of August because the clock was ticking on the terms of the voluntary memorandum, which according to the official timetable ran out September 1, 2019.

However, it was previously agreed that the parties involved would extend the memorandum beyond that date while the amendments are pushed through into law.

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and more. We also have VPN reviews, discounts, offers and coupons.

Man Tried to Burn Down Telecoms Watchdog to Avenge Pirate Site-Blocking

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/man-tried-to-burn-down-telecoms-watchdog-to-avenge-pirate-site-blocking-190817/

While copyright holders and many governments see site-blocking as a reasoned and measured response to copyright infringement, some people view it as overkill.

People should be able to access whatever content they want without rich corporations deciding what should and should not appear on computer screens, the argument goes.

For former student Pavel Kopylov, blocking of pirate sites in Russia has gone too far. So, to make his displeasure obvious to Roscomnadzor, the government entity responsible for carrying it out, last year he attempted to burn one of its offices down – three times.

On April 2, 2018, reportedly dissatisfied that his favorite torrent tracker had been blocked, Kopylov went to the local offices of Roscomnadzor,
smashed a window, and threw a bottle of flammable liquid inside together with a burning match. The attempt was a failure – the fire didn’t ignite and a guard was alerted by the noise.

Almost two weeks later, Kopylov returned for a second try. This time a fire did ensue but it was put out, without causing catastrophic damage. A third attempt, on May 9, 2018, ended in complete failure, with a guard catching the would-be arsonist before he could carry out his plan.

Nevertheless, the prosecutor’s office saw the attacks as an attempt to destroy Roscomnadzor’s property by arson, an offense carrying a penalty of up to five years in prison. The prosecution sought two years but in the end, had to settle for considerably less.

Interfax reports that a court in the Ulyanovsk region has now sentenced the man for repeatedly trying to burn down Roscomnadzor’s regional office. He received 18 months probation but the prosecution intends to appeal, describing the sentence as excessively lenient.

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and more. We also have VPN reviews, discounts, offers and coupons.

Legal Movie Sites Could Get Special ‘Tag’ in Search Results to Deter Piracy

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/legal-movie-sites-could-get-special-tag-in-search-results-to-deter-piracy-190731/

While many pirate site users already know the direct URLs of their favorite free movie resources, entertainment industry groups feel that search engines still play a key role in unlicensed content discovery.

As a result, anti-piracy companies are continuously tasked with having allegedly-infringing results removed from search results offered by companies such as Google, in an effort to minimize traffic to pirate sites.

In Russia, which is rapidly emerging as world-leader in anti-piracy strategies, the government now wants to take things a step further by modifying search results to include a ‘tag’ or marker that clearly identifies legal video platforms.

According to local news outlet Vedomosti, the proposal forms part of an amendment to copyright law penned by Russia’s Ministry of Culture.

“We expect that in this way users will make a more informed choice not in favor of pirates, but in favor of legal platforms,” says Olga Lyubimova, director of the cinematography department of the Ministry of Culture.

While having a gold star or similar marker next to a site’s listing may help users to better identify legal offerings, the government isn’t planning to hand out endorsements on a whim. Movie and TV companies want to get a better idea of what content is being viewed and in what volumes. As a result, sites to be considered for preferential marking will have to give something back.

Russian cinemas are already required to report data on all tickets sold but there is no equivalent for online viewing resources, leaving production companies to complain that they need more information. The current proposals would require legal online providers to provide such data to content companies and the government.

If they do not, it’s suggested they could be declared illegal with various repercussions, not least the inability to be highlighted in search results as a legitimate provider.

The proposal to highlight legal platforms in search results is in addition to a ground-breaking agreement reached in Moscow last year. Signed by major rightsholders, Internet companies, and search providers, the pact sees Internet platforms query a centralized database of infringing content to ensure that none of it is presented on their platforms.

It’s expected to be written into law but in common with the search tagging proposal, the precise details are still being hammered out.

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and more. We also have VPN reviews, discounts, offers and coupons.

Hackers Expose Russian FSB Cyberattack Projects

Post Syndicated from Bruce Schneier original https://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2019/07/hackers_expose_.html

More nation-state activity in cyberspace, this time from Russia:

Per the different reports in Russian media, the files indicate that SyTech had worked since 2009 on a multitude of projects since 2009 for FSB unit 71330 and for fellow contractor Quantum. Projects include:

  • Nautilus — a project for collecting data about social media users (such as Facebook, MySpace, and LinkedIn).
  • Nautilus-S — a project for deanonymizing Tor traffic with the help of rogue Tor servers.

  • Reward — a project to covertly penetrate P2P networks, like the one used for torrents.

  • Mentor — a project to monitor and search email communications on the servers of Russian companies.

  • Hope — a project to investigate the topology of the Russian internet and how it connects to other countries’ network.

  • Tax-3 — a project for the creation of a closed intranet to store the information of highly-sensitive state figures, judges, and local administration officials, separate from the rest of the state’s IT networks.

BBC Russia, who received the full trove of documents, claims there were other older projects for researching other network protocols such as Jabber (instant messaging), ED2K (eDonkey), and OpenFT (enterprise file transfer).

Other files posted on the Digital Revolution Twitter account claimed that the FSB was also tracking students and pensioners.

Google Fined Again For Not Removing Banned Sites From Search Results

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/google-fined-again-for-not-removing-banned-sites-from-search-results-190720/

In order to control what kind of information its citizens have access to online, Russia operates an Internet ‘blacklist’.

Known locally as FGIS (Unified Register of Prohibited Information), the database contains the domains of thousands of sites containing anything from extremist material to pirated copies of movies and TV shows.

Major online technology platforms are expected to interface with FGIS to ensure they receive up-to-date information on which sites are forbidden in Russia. In the case of search engines, the database provides details on which sites should be removed from search results.

After failing to connect its systems to the FGIS and deindexing sites as required, last December Google was fined by Russian authorities. That was followed by threats from local telecoms watch Roscomnadzor early 2019 that the US-based company could be fined again for non-compliance, as well as facing a potential block itself.

In February 2019 it was reported that Google was finally playing ball and everything was running more smoothly. However, that appears not have been the case. According to an announcement published this week by Roscomnadzor, Google has been fined again.

“The company has not complied with the requirements of the law..[..]..by excluding from search results links to Internet resources with illegal information, access to which is restricted in Russia,” Roscomndazor said.

“The control event recorded that Google carries out selective filtering of search results – more than a third of the links from a single registry of prohibited information are still preserved in its search results.”

Explaining that Google has been told repeatedly of the legal requirements in Russia, the watchdog revealed that the fine handed down was 700,000 rubles – just US$11,098 – a drop in the ocean as far as Google is concerned.

Digital rights group Roscomsvoboda reports that in April 2019, Google had removed 80% of the specified banned content from its search results. However, data covering the period ending May, for which the fine was levied, showed that removal levels had fallen to 67.5%.

Last month, when Google learned that it was in line for another fine after a warning from Roscomnadzor, the company expressed surprise.

“We have not changed anything. A couple of months ago we agreed that we will not connect to the registry of banned sites and will not blindly delete anything, but consider requests to delete content, and where it meets the requirements, we remove content from the Russian service,” a spokesperson said.

“We do not understand why Roscomnadzor is talking about a new case or where they get these figures from.”

Whether Google will eventually connect to the FGIS isn’t clear. It currently receives a daily list of sites to be blocked and acts on those as it sees fit. Only time will tell whether that will be enough for Roscomndazor moving forward.

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and more. We also have VPN reviews, discounts, offers and coupons.

Kaspersky VPN Now Blocks ‘Pirate’ Sites in Russia

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/kaspersky-vpn-now-blocks-pirate-sites-in-russia-190703/

In order to prevent citizens from accessing objectionable content, from pirate sites through to extremist material, Russia operates a national blacklist.

This centralized database of domains, known locally as FGIS (Federal State Information System), is checked by Internet service providers which then block their subscribers from accessing forbidden sites. Of course, services like VPNs, Tor and various anonymizers, are able to circumvent these measures, a point not lost on the authorities.

In 2017, a new bill was signed into law aiming to close the loophole. As a result, if tools with the ability to circumvent the blacklist don’t play ball by respecting its contents, they also face being blocked by ISPs.

This proposal came to head earlier this year when telecoms watchdog Roscomnadzor wrote to several major VPN providers – NordVPN, ExpressVPN, TorGuard, IPVanish, VPN Unlimited, VyprVPN, Kaspersky Secure Connection, HideMyAss!, Hola VPN, and OpenVPN – demanding compliance.

The VPN services above were given 30 days to respond but most either ignored or flat-out rejected the demands. Only Russia-based Kaspersky offered to cooperate and it now appears the security company is censoring websites as ordered.

According to digital rights group Roskomsvoboda, Kaspersky is now fully respecting the contents of the FGIS database and actively blocking domains, including the many ‘pirate’ sites that are permanently blocked in Russia after repeatedly failing to respond to copyright complaints.

Citing tests carried out by various users of Kaspersky Secure Connection, the group says that attempts to access banned domains now result in a warning that the material is inaccessible via the service.

Credit: Roskomsvoboda.org

Users of Kaspersky’s mobile application are reportedly less-well-informed. Rather than the blocking page above which appears in desktop-based browsers, users are greeted with an ‘ERR CONNECTION RESET’ message when they attempt to access a ‘banned’ site.

It’s unclear whether Kaspersky decided to comply simply because it’s based in Russia or whether being blocked itself would be a step too far for the company. It’s likely that both played a role but fresh news coming out of the country suggests that earlier claims that non-compliant VPN providers would be blocked themselves may have been a little premature.

At the start of June, telecoms watchdog Roscomnadzor indicated that the blocking of nine previously-contacted VPN providers was imminent but now, less than a month later, authorities might be pulling back from the brink.

“We have the right to block VPN services that do not comply with the law, but there is no obligation to do so at any specific time,” said the head of Roskomnadzor, Alexander Zharov.

“There are nine services that do not execute the law. We may wait for fines under a new law. We are not ready to discuss a specific plan for our actions.”

Last week, Library Genesis (Libgen), a huge online repository of free books and academic articles, became the latest ‘pirate’ addition to Russia’s national blacklist.

Following a lawsuit filed by Springer Nature in 2018, the platform has now been labeled a repeat infringer, meaning that the domains libgen.io and lgmag.org are now permanently blocked by the country’s ISPs.

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and more. We also have VPN reviews, discounts, offers and coupons.

Rightsholders Want to Completely Delist ‘Pirate’ Domains From Search Results

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/rightsholders-want-to-completely-delist-pirate-domains-from-search-results-190621/

The anti-piracy wars are fought on many fronts, from plugging leaks to issuing millions of takedown notices to both sites and search engines.

Despite no deliberate role in piracy, the latter are often described as facilitators of piracy who could do more, by making pirate sites less visible in search results, for example.

While companies like Google have taken such steps both voluntarily (UK) and in response to legal requirements (Australia 1,2), rightsholders would like more. In Russia, where new anti-piracy legislation is currently being debated, there’s an opportunity to set the standard.

Last year, several rightsholders and Internet platforms signed a memorandum of understanding which set out a basic framework for cooperation moving forward. The terms of that agreement are now the subject of negotiations before being turned into law sometime in the next few months.

During a closed-door meeting this week, held at telecoms watchdog Roscomnadzor and reported by a Kommersant source, rightsholders set out new tough demands. In order to limit traffic being sent to pirate sites by search engines, they want companies like Yandex (and ultimately Google) to completely delist ‘pirate’ domains from search results.

Under the current terms of the memorandum, signatory companies delist search results (typically URLs) when they appear in a centralized database populated with links provided by content companies and their anti-piracy partners. The new proposals demand that sites considered as repeat infringers should disappear altogether.

Alexei Byrdin, General Director of the Internet Video Association, said that his group had identified a number of measures taken by pirate sites to limit the effectiveness of current measures. This means a more aggressive approach is needed.

“Our response is a draft rule on the removal of the entire domain of a site that systematically violates copyrights [from search results],” he told Kommersant.

While not all sites that receive multiple complaints will be affected (social networks and video hosting platforms would be excluded, for example), Internet companies are said to be opposed to the proposals. Among them Yandex, Russia’s largest search engine.

“It is necessary that any measures that entail inaccessibility to users of entire sites are based on a court decision. We are sure that such a solution will be found,” the company’s press office commented.

Channel One, the National Media Group, Gazprom-Media, the Internet Video Association, the Association of Film and Television Producers, Yandex, Rambler Group, Mail.Ru Group, vKontakte, and RuTube, are all signatories of the current memorandum.

The framework is set to expire on September 1, 2019, but could be extended if consensus isn’t reached by that date. However, aside from the deletion of entire domains from search results, it’s reported that the parties are largely in agreement, meaning that Russia is on course to expand its anti-piracy laws significantly, once again.

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and more. We also have VPN reviews, discounts, offers and coupons.

Russia Says it Will Soon Begin Blocking Major VPNs

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/russia-says-it-will-soon-begin-blocking-major-vpns/

When it comes to site-blocking, Russia is one of the most aggressive countries in the world.

Thousands of pirate sites are blocked on copyright grounds while others are restricted for containing various types of “banned information”, such as extremist material.

The domains of these platforms are contained in a national blacklist. Service providers of many types are required to interface with this database, in order to block sites from being accessible via their systems. This includes VPN providers, particular those that ordinarily provide censorship workarounds.

Back in March, telecoms watchdog Roscomnadzor wrote to ten major VPN providers – NordVPN, ExpressVPN, TorGuard, IPVanish, VPN Unlimited, VyprVPN, Kaspersky Secure Connection, HideMyAss!, Hola VPN, and OpenVPN – ordering them to connect to the database. Many did not want to play ball.

NordVPN, for example, flat-out refused to comply, stating that doing so would violate service agreements made with its customers. IPVanish also rejected any censorship, as did VPN Unlimited, VyprVPN and OpenVPN.

The VPN services in question were given a limited time to respond (30 days) but according to Roscomnadzor, most are digging in their heels. In fact, of the companies contacted with the demands, only one has agreed to the watchdog’s terms.

“We sent out ten notifications to VPNs. Only one of them – Kaspersky Secure Connection – connected to the registry,” Roscomnadzor chief Alexander Zharov informs Interfax.

“All the others did not answer, moreover, they wrote on their websites that they would not comply with Russian law. And the law says unequivocally if the company refuses to comply with the law – it should be blocked.”

And it appears that Roscomnadzor is prepared to carry through with its threat. When questioned on the timeline for blocking, Zharov said that the matter could be closed within a month.

If that happens, the non-compliant providers will themselves be placed on the country’s blacklist (known locally as FGIS), meaning that local ISPs will have to prevent their users from accessing them. It is not yet clear whether that means their web presences, their VPN servers, or both.

In the case of the latter, it’s currently unclear whether there will be a battle or not. TorGuard has already pulled its servers out of Russia and ExpressVPN currently lists no servers in the country. The same is true for OpenVPN although VyprVPN still lists servers in Moscow, as does HideMyAss.

Even if Roscomnadzor is successful in blocking any or all of the non-compliant services, there are still dozens more to choose from, a fact acknowledged by Zharov.

“These ten VPNs do not exhaust the entire list of proxy programs available to our citizens. I don’t think there will be a tragedy if they are blocked, although I feel very sorry about it,” Zharov concludes.

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and more. We also have VPN reviews, discounts, offers and coupons.

Pirate ‘CAM King’ 1XBET Becomes Russia’s 3rd Largest Online Advertiser

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/pirate-cam-king-1xbet-becomes-russias-3rd-largest-online-advertiser-190604/

Since 2018, it’s likely that Internet users searching for the latest pirate ‘cam’ copies of Hollywood movies will have been exposed to the brand 1XBET.

1XBET is an online gambling company based in Russia that currently has more than 140 of its URLs blocked by the Russian government after being declared illegal. However, it is still managing to attract eyeballs all around the world via online advertising, including via ads placed in pirated copies of movies.

In a TF report published last month, we covered some of the activities being associated with the company, along with thoughts from local anti-piracy sources. Interestingly, 1XBET is now making headlines in Russia for being one of the most prolific online advertisers in the entire region.

The information comes from a new study, published by research company Mediascope, ranking the companies that placed the greatest volume of advertising online in Russia during the first quarter of 2019.

At the top of the pile with 3.3% market share is Google, which doesn’t comes as a huge surprise. The search giant is followed by PepsiCo in second position with 3.1%. In a remarkable third place sits 1XBET, with a significant 2.4% of the market.

To give some perspective, food giant Danone claims 2.3% of the market while Universal Pictures Russia has even less with 1.9%.

Mediascope data (credit: RBC)

What makes this achievement even more bewildering is that last year, another ‘sponsor’ of piracy releases was also making headlines for similar reasons.

Azino 777, another gambling company closely connected to ‘pirate’ releases, previously took the top spot for advertising online in Russia with 6.7% of the market. This year the company was ranked just 60th. It’s believed that the anti-piracy memorandum signed last year is at least partly responsible for the decline since participants are able to delete ‘pirate’ sites from search results.

Mediascope data published by local news outlet RBC shows that during the first quarter of 2018, researchers found Azino 777 adverts on 670 sites but during the same period in 2019, that had fallen to just 143. Additionally, the volume of ad impressions for Azino 777 in videos delivered via Yandex’s video service was 11 times smaller during the same period.

Russia’s Internet Video Association, which represents legal online video operators, has been filing complaints with telecoms watchdog Roscomnadzor against sites where Azino 777 ads can be viewed. Of around 500 complaints filed in 2019, around half – which include streaming sites and torrent indexes – have been blocked.

But despite the progress against Azino 777, the job still isn’t finished. The rise of 1XBET indicates there are still problems with gambling advertising connected with piracy.

“This indirectly indicates that piracy is still flourishing,” Maxim Ryabyko, director general of the Association for the Protection of Copyright on the Internet, told RBC.

According to Mediascope, in the first quarter of 2018, 1XBET ads appeared on 59 sites that were monitored. In the same period during 2019, that had risen to 447. In addition, advertising on Yandex video players grew 27 times over the volumes observed during the first three months of 2018.

During the past week alone, 1XBET-branded ‘cams’ have continued to hit the Internet. Among them copies of Ma, Rocketman, and Godzilla: King of the Monsters. 1XBET and/or its affiliates are clearly not yet done with their mission to grab the eyes and wallets of pirate consumers, in Russia and around the world.

Godzilla, 1XBET style….

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and more. We also have VPN reviews, discounts, offers and coupons.

Media & Telecoms Companies Reveal “Self-Learning” Anti-Piracy System

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/media-telecoms-companies-reveal-self-learning-anti-piracy-system-190529/

Last November, major media and tech companies in Russia signed a landmark memorandum in order to tackle the rise of pirated content on the Internet.

Central to the agreement was the creation of a database populated with links to material deemed copyright-infringing by entertainment industry groups

Operators of search platforms agreed to query the database every five minutes and then, within six hours, remove links to the content from their search results. The same applies to sites that actually host content, such as Yandex.video and RuTube, for example.

Population of the database got quickly underway and according to the Media Communication Union (MKC), which represents the interests of major media and telecoms companies, now contains around 300,000 links. However, the companies involved feel that the system can be much improved with the addition of custom software.

To that end, this week the MKC revealed that it has begun testing a new anti-piracy system that will allow content to be added to the database more quickly and efficiently. The tool not only allows URLs to be entered manually but also accepts input from “specialized search systems” that are able to identify illegal content.

“An automated solution based on specially trained neural networks is used to analyze the content of sites specified in the rights holders’ reports,” MKC announced.

MKC says that manual testing is also used in a number of cases, with the results being sent to the neural network for “additional training.” As the project develops, the aim is to require the intervention of human operators on much fewer occasions.

“A modern software solution based on self-learning systems will significantly increase the effectiveness of the fight against Internet piracy and will further increase the consumption of legal video services,” said MKS President Mikhail Demin.

An almost fully-automated anti-piracy seems like a big ask, particularly when machines are often blamed for erroneous takedowns. However, for the head of Russian telecoms watchdog Roskomndazor, removing humans from the equation where possible will make the system more effective.

“This is a significant event for both sides of the Memorandum,” Alexander Zharov says.

“An automated solution for interaction within the framework of the Memorandum will help to increase the reaction times and reduce the risks associated with the ‘human factor’.”

It is not yet clear whether the system under development represents anything drastically new in the anti-piracy space, or whether the “self-learning” component will amount to anything more than scraping allegedly-infringing URLs and then sending these to the registry.

Nevetherless, beta tests are already underway and it’s expected that the finished product will be with rightsholders before the end of July.

The memorandum and supporting technical efforts are currently in operation voluntarily until the terms of the agreement run out November 1, 2019. However, given the level of commitment being shown by the parties involved, it’s expected to continue until the terms of the memorandum can be written into local law.

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and more. We also have VPN reviews, discounts, offers and coupons.