Network Analysis Reveals Apparent (And Legally Questionable) Attack On Torrent Networks
from the pirates-still-won't-pay dept
Last week, we talked about a Microsoft-funded operation calling itself "Pirate Pay" and claiming to shut down torrents of pirated films by poisoning the P2P network with false data. At the time, former BitTorrent VP John Pettitt had commented that their system sounds ineffective and potentially illegal. Now, an anonymous reader points us to an analysis by Poland's Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT Polska) looking at a recent surge of anomalous data on the uTP torrent protocol, which sounds somewhat similar to the description of Pirate Pay. The bulk of the analysis is highly technical, and they offer a few hypotheses for what might be causing the anomalies, the strongest of which is that it may well be a large-scale attempt at disruption:
Data collected from public trackers support this hypothesis. Without delving into details of torrent client reactions it’s plain to see that trackers register small amount of peers downloading analysed resources. It’s possible that it’s an effect of a process which we are currently unable to understand fully and which produce the anomaly. 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.
Whether this uTP anomaly is directly related to Pirate Pay or not, CERT Polska reaches a similar conclusion about its legality:
Anomaly through it’s nature (large share in daily network traffic) produces visible disruption in IT systems and large amount of our false-positive high-level alerts is a good proof. 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.
If it's true that the big anti-piracy players are attempting a full-scale network attack on piracy, it's actually kind of funny. Resorting to potentially illegal tactics to combat illegal behaviour doesn't do anything to make people respect copyright—it just galvanizes the idea that it's a battle for control. More importantly, the people working to preserve the network will always be more skilled and more numerous than those working to disrupt it, so the best this can do is give them a chance to hone their skills and shore up security.