Tag Archives: takedown notice

Hundreds of Thousands of ‘Pirate’ Sites Disappear Following Takedown Notices

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/hundreds-of-thousands-of-pirate-sites-disappear-following-takedown-notices/

Takedown notices are a vital tool for copyright holders who want to make sure that infringing copies of their work are not widely distributed.

Every week millions of these requests are sent to hosting platforms, as well as third-party services, such as search engines. 

Quite a few of the major players, including Twitter, Google, and Bing, publish these requests online. However, due to the massive volume, it’s hard for casual observers to spot any trends in the data. 

Researchers from Queen Mary University of London and Boston University aim to add some context with an elaborate study covering a broad database of takedown requests. Their results are now bundled in a paper titled: “Who Watches the Watchmen: Exploring Complaints on the Web.”

The research covers all takedown requests that were made available through the Lumen Database in 2017. The majority of these were sent to Google, with Bing, Twitter, and Periscope as runners-up. In total, more than one billion reported URLs were analyzed.

Most takedown requests or ‘web complaints’ were copyright-related, 98.6% to be precise. This means that other notices, such as defamation reports, court orders, and Government requests, make up a tiny minority. 

The researchers report that the complaints were submitted by 38,523 unique senders, covering 1.05 billion URLs.  While that’s a massive number, most reported links are filed by a very small group of senders. 

“We find that the distribution of notices is highly skewed towards a few extremely active senders. The top 10% of notice senders report over 1 billion URLs, in stark contrast to just 550K by the bottom 90%,” the researchers write.

Not surprisingly, the list of top senders is entirely made up of anti-piracy groups and trade organizations. In 2017, the top senders were Rivendell, Aiplex, and the UK music group BPI. 

On the domain side, the results are skewed as well. The top 1% of all reported domain names were targeted in 63% of all complaints. In other words, a small number of sites are responsible for the vast majority of all takedown notices. 

These and other figures provide more insight into the various takedown characteristics. What we were most surprised about, however, are the researchers’ findings regarding the availability of the reported domain names. 

The researchers carried out periodic checks on the domains and URLs to verify if the websites are still active. This revealed that a few weeks after the first takedown notices were filed, 22% of the reported domains were inactive, returning an NXDOMAIN response.

“Many domain names are soon taken offline and 22% of the URLs are inaccessible within just 4 weeks of us observing the complaints. Hence, it is clear that we shed light on a highly dynamic environment from the perspective of domain operators too,” the article reads.

With a total dataset of more than a billion domain names, this suggests that hundreds or thousands of sites simply disappeared. Whether the takedown requests have anything to do with this is unclear though, as many site owners may not even be aware of them.

The disappearing domain names mostly use more exotic TLDs, with .LOL being the most popular, followed by .LINK, .BID, .SPACE, and .WIN. The vast majority of these (97%) have an Alexa rank lower than one million, which means that they only have a few visitors per day. 

It’s not clear why these domains disappear and the authors of the article stress that follow-up research is required to find out more. It would not be a surprise, however, if many of these are related to spam or scams that rely on temporary search engine traffic. 

Finally, the article also observed worrying activity carried out by copyright holders. For example, some use seemingly fabricated URLs, as we have highlighted in the past, while others send hundreds of duplicate notices. 

All in all the research should help to provide a better understanding of how takedown requests impact various stakeholders. This type of transparency is essential to improve procedures for the senders, but also to prevent abuse.

“Transparency is critical and, as a society, it is important to know how and why information is filtered. This is particularly the case as we have found that these mechanisms might not be always used wisely,” the researchers conclude. 

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

Police Arrest Suspected Member of TheDarkOverlord Hacking Group

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/police-arrest-suspected-member-of-the-dark-overlord-hacking-group-180517/

In April 2017, the first episode of the brand new season of Netflix’s Orange is the New Black was uploaded to The Pirate Bay, months ahead of its official release date.

The leak was the work of a hacking entity calling itself TheDarkOverlord (TDO). One of its members had contacted TorrentFreak months earlier claiming that the content was in its hands but until the public upload, nothing could be confirmed.

TDO told us it had obtained the episodes after hacking the systems of Hollywood-based Larson Studios, an ADR (additional dialogue recorded) studio, back in 2016. TDO had attempted to blackmail the company into paying a bitcoin ransom but when it wasn’t forthcoming, TDO pressed the nuclear button.

Netflix responded by issuing a wave of takedown notices but soon TDO moved onto a new target. In June 2017, TDO followed up on an earlier threat to leak content owned by ABC.

But while TDO was perhaps best known for its video-leaking exploits, the group’s core ‘business’ was hacking what many perceived to be softer targets. TDO ruthlessly slurped confidential data from weakly protected computer systems at medical facilities, private practices, and businesses large and small.

In each case, the group demanded ransoms in exchange for silence and leaked sensitive data to the public if none were paid. With dozens of known targets, TDO found itself at the center of an international investigation, led by the FBI. That now appears to have borne some fruit, with the arrest of an individual in Serbia.

Serbian police say that members of its Ministry of Internal Affairs, Criminal Police Directorate (UCC), in coordination with the Special Prosecution for High-Tech Crime, have taken action against a suspected member of TheDarkOverlord group.

Police say they tracked down a Belgrade resident, who was arrested and taken into custody. Identified only by the initials “S.S”, police say the individual was born in 1980 but have released no further personal details. A search of his apartment and other locations led to the seizure of items of digital equipment.

“According to the order of the Special Prosecutor’s Office for High-Tech Crime, criminal charges will be brought against him because of the suspicion that he committed the criminal offense of unauthorized access to a protected computer, computer networks and electronic processing, and the criminal offense of extortion,” a police statement reads.

In earlier correspondence with TF, the TDO member always gave the impression of working as part of a team but we only had a single contact point which appeared to be the same person. However, Serbian authorities say the larger investigation is aimed at uncovering “a large number of people” who operate under the banner of “TheDarkOverlord”.

Since June 2016, the group is said to have targeted at least 50 victims while demanding bitcoin ransoms to avoid disclosure of their content. Serbian authorities say that on the basis of available data, TDO received payments of more than $275,000.

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