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Anti-Piracy Attack On BitTorrent Networks Could Be Illegal

Posted by: , 20:57 AEST, Thu May 24, 2012

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The Polish arm of CERT has noticed a ramp up of BitTorrent based poisoning attacks in recent months, which could be the work of anti-piracy firms, and legality issues have been raised in relation to these "attacks"
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The Polish arm of the Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT) has identified ongoing attacks on the BitTorrent network, which could be the work of anti-piracy agencies based in Russia.

Last week, a Russian company revealed that they had received funding from Microsoft for a product, called Pirate Pay, that could disrupt BitTorrent networks. Without going into the specifics of how it works, the company claimed that it had already managed to stall the illegal sharing of several Russian films.

While CERT Polska's analysis revealed a diverse range of locations from which the attacks originate, including Russia, Canada, China, Australia and the USA, the target of the attacks have so far focused on BitTorrent swarms sharing Russian films.

While this kind of "poisoning" does sound like what Pirate Bay would do, it is also extremely likely that other companies may use a similar technology to achieve the same.

And CERT certainly finds the theory that an anti-piracy agency being behind it all plausible. "At least one interest group that would benefit from uTP poisoning is easy to point at: multimedia companies and their subcontractors. Conduction of this kind of campaign by these institutions wouldn’t be precedent. It’s also possible that generated traffic is used for BitTorrent network mapping and data gathering for later use in other projects," CERT noted.

But CERT Polska also questioned the legality of this method of anti-piracy protection, which has at the very least produced a large amount false-positive high-level alerts as the attacks continue to produce "visible disruption in IT systems".

"In terms of Polish law, European Convention on Cybercrime and U.S. Codes (and probably many other sources of domestic law) legality of process producing the anomaly is questionable," the CERT warning noted.


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