MediaDefender's Denial Of Service Attack On Revision3

from the how-friendly-of-them dept

Lots of you are probably familiar with MediaDefender. They’ve been around for many years (we first mentioned them back in 2000) with the business proposition of basically helping big entertainment companies disrupt any sort of unauthorized file sharing. In the early days, that just meant putting up spoof files to annoy people. But it’s become a lot more sophisticated since then — including tricking people into downloading spoof files with malware that actually scans your computer for infringing files. Then, of course, there was the infamous attempt to create an entire fake honeypot file sharing system to try to catch people for unauthorized file sharing. The company has also been accused of a variety of different denial of service attacks against sites it believes are promoting file sharing. On the whole, pretty much everything the company seems to be associated with would be considered dirty tactics. What’s amazing is that in pulling all these dirty tricks, MediaDefender never seems to get in much trouble for it. However, it may have picked the wrong target this time.

Over the weekend, there was a lot of buzz about the fact that online video company Revision3 was taken totally offline thanks to a denial of service attack. As a whole bunch of you are sending in, Revision3’s CEO has now put up a post explaining how it was actually MediaDefender that very obviously launched the denial of service attack on Revision3. There are some details missing, but effectively what has been pieced together is that Revision3 uses BitTorrent (properly and legally) to help offload the bandwidth costs of distributing its videos (this is exactly what BitTorrent was originally built to do). MediaDefender, however, used a backdoor into Revision3’s BitTorrent tracker to inject its own nefarious torrents — basically piggybacking off of Revision3’s tracker. Revision3 noticed the backdoor and closed it — at which point, MediaDefender’s system started flooding Revision3’s servers with over 8,000 pings per second (MediaDefender claims it should have been once every 3 minutes).

So, it doesn’t appear to have been a malicious attack by MediaDefender on Revision3 — just a sneaky, poorly implemented one (which, at this point, seems par for the course on just about everything MediaDefender does). And, in doing so, it took a totally legitimate business nearly completely offline for a few days, and doesn’t seem particularly apologetic about it. And these are the guys that the entertainment industry trusts to save it from the “evils” of unauthorized file sharing.

Filed Under: ,
Companies: mediadefender, revision3

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Comments on “MediaDefender's Denial Of Service Attack On Revision3”

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ehrichweiss says:

Re: Re:

“Can you prosecute people for downloading copyright material if it was fake, non-copyrighted material?”

If you and everyone you know doesn’t convince their congress critter to stop the bill that will make *attempted* copyright infringement a punishable crime, yes they will be able to do that soon.

Hank (user link) says:

reversal of roles

So basically, MediaDefender, in trying to find sites breaking the law, and stop them, found a site that was not breaking the law, then attacked them anyway, and shut down their business for a period of time, which in itself is breaking the law.

If I was Rev3 I would sue for revenue lost during the down time caused by MediaDefender; and because we are in America where anyone can be sued for anything, I would sue everyone associated with MediaDefender as well.

Matt says:

revision3 will be down for a day I suspect

They’ve been slashdotted, which is known to take down some of the biggest websites across the web among the broad coverage everywhere.

/welcome revision3 to what google size traffic can do to a server: aka nuclear warfare lol

Anyway, with that said, MD has admitted to illegal actions. On many many levels according to people on groklaw there are avenues for recourse that Revision3 may be able to pursue. This will be a hell of an interesting case explaining that “yes, I am using someone else’s legitimate servers without their consent, its only a coincidence that I bombard them if they cut me off”
IANAL but that will be a fun case.

PaulT (profile) says:


You’ve got love this. In order to attack “pirates”, MediaDefender run a network exploit on an the servers of an innocent 3rd party’s server. They use this to run illegal torrents through a backdoor in order to try and catch people who might be downloading in an unauthorised manner, and do so without notifying said 3rd party. When said 3rd party tightens its security, their systems’ response is to cause the 3rd party to shut down.

I’m in awe of the stupidity, incompetence and short-sightedness of MediaDefender’s actions, as well as the balls it must take to say “sorry we shut down your business over Memorial weekend, but tough s**t” (paraphrasing, obviously).

Surely they can be prosecuted for various hacking and computer/wire fraud crimes? They should at least be sued for the lost revenue.

The amusing part about this: they apparently feel no shame because Revision3 happen to use BitTorrent, a perfectly legitimate file distribution method. Remember, these are meant to be the “good guys”. We need to feel sorry for MediaDefender because those *other* companies they work for (RIAA/MPAA members) might be losing money and those companies are richer and therefore more important than Revision3…

PaulT (profile) says:

It gets better...

Finally got the full article to load, and this is gold:

“MediaDefender claims that they have taken steps to ensure this won’t happen again. “We’ve added a policy that will investigate open public trackers to see if they are associated with other companies”, promised Grodsky, “and first will make a communication that says, hey are you aware of this.””

Erm, shouldn’t they actually be checking who the trackers belong to anyway? I’m no expert on this subject, but I know that back when I used to do support for a hosting company, most servers that were distributing P2P or torrent files illegally turned out to have been hacked or had rootkits installed. They were always fixed/pulled as soon as this became apparent, usually with the blessing of the customer. I’d guess that most people running illegitimate trackers would like to know about it themselves…

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Gee..I'd really like..

Here we have an ISP that must have a TOS policy that permits Denial-of-Service attacks.

You’re just used to consumer terms. Many ISP’s give their big or otherwise special customers special terms that can be quite a bit more liberal than their published terms that would apply to you or me. These special terms appear in the contract on what the industry commonly refers to as a “yellow sheet”. I imagine MediaDefender has a yellow sheet on their contract.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Gee..I'd really like..

Then the contract yellow sheet is invalid. Even I know that two parties cannot hve a contract to do something –illegal–.

Just because the yellow sheet does not specifically prohibit DOS attacks does not make the yellow sheet invalid. It probably doesn’t mention murder either but that doesn’t make it invalid.

This is first week of Business Law 101 stuff.

If your business law class taught you that contracts have to list everything that is illegal in order to be valid then you need to ask for a refund.

Ferin says:

Perp Walk?

Does anyone know, can they be prosecuted for executing a DoS een if it’s shown that it occurred because they can’t configure their software properly? I’d love to see these idiot’s heads roll, but it sound like they’re trying for a defense of “boy, was that a bad glitch in our system!”

thecaptain says:

Re: Perp Walk?

They CAN be prosecuted.

However, they WON’T be prosecuted. Money talks.

The U.S. lawmakers, politicians and the A.G. offices are hopelessly corrupt in the amount of money they receive from media companies such as the MPAA and RIAA. As such, MediaDefender is COMPLETELY free to hack with impunity.

Until laws change, until the political process changes and until these companies lose the ability to buy the law, this will continue.

Land of the free indeed.

Chronno S. Trigger says:

Re: Re: Perp Walk?

That may be true, OK it’s probably true, but it would be interesting if Revision3 pushed the matter. With all the free publicity that MediaDefender just forced down their throats, it would be a good time to turn this around and possibly make laws change. They’ll have a lot more money to pad their legal budget.

By the way, I’m now a happy member of Revision3. Thank you Mike. Now I want to figure out where the torrent part comes in so I can share.

Bob Mclawren (user link) says:

DDOS Mitigation


You guys should look into a provider called ypigsfly ( as they provide ddos mitigation (called securepig) of up to 2gig/sec and 2 mil packets per second. They do advance detection based on ip/protocol anomaly + behavioral detection as well as the traditional tcp-syn fin/reset attacks along with icmp/udp protection. They also do rate limiting based on a per policy so you can limit the amount of connections a service receives from a source ip or network.


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