MediaDefender, the thugs paid by the entertainment industry to spy on file-sharers and attempt to cripple file-sharing networks, attacked a legitimate Internet TV company called Revision3 over the weekend, launching a massive denial-of-service attack in retaliation for having their spy-bots locked out of R3's BitTorrent trackers:
Revision3 runs a tracker expressly designed to coordinate the sharing and downloading of our shows. It’s a completely legitimate business practice, similar to how ESPN puts out a guide that tells viewers how to tune into its network on DirecTV, Dish, Comcast and Time Warner, or a mall might publish a map of its stores...
A bit of address translation, and we’d discovered our nemesis. But instead of some shadowy underground criminal syndicate, the packets were coming from right in our home state of California. In fact, we traced the vast majority of those packets to a public company called Artistdirect (ARTD.OB). Once we were able to get their internet provider on the line, they verified that yes, indeed, that internet address belonged to a subsidiary of Artist Direct, called MediaDefender.
Who pays MediaDefender to disrupt peer to peer networks? I don’t know who’s ponying up today, but in the past their clients have included Sony, Universal Music, and the central industry groups for both music and movies – the RIAA and MPAA. According to an article by Ars Technica, the company uses “its array of 2,000 servers and a 9GBps dedicated connection to propagate fake files and launch denial of service attacks against distributors.” Another Ars Technica story claims that MediaDefender used a similar denial of service attack to bring down a group critical of its actions...
“Media Defender did not do anything specific, targeted at Revision3″, claims Grodsky. “We didn’t do anything to increase the traffic” – beyond what they’d normally be sending us due to the fact that Revision3 was hosting thousands of MediaDefender torrents improperly injected into our corporate server. His claim: that once we turned off MediaDefender’s back-door access to the server, “traffic piled up (to Revision3 from MediaDefender servers because) it didn’t get any acknowledgment back.”
Putting aside the company’s outrageous use of our servers for their own profit, and the large difference between one connection every three hours and 8,000 packets a second, I’m still left to wonder why they didn’t just tell us our basement window was unlocked. A quick call or email and we’d have locked it up tighter than a drum. ..
If it can happen to Revision3, it could happen to your business too. We’re simply in the business of delivering entertainment and information – that’s not life or death stuff. But what if MediaDefender discovers a tracker inside a hospital, fire department or 911 center? If it happened to us, it could happen to them too. In my opinion, Media Defender practices risky business, and needs to overhaul how it operates. Because in this country, as far as I know, we’re still innocent until proven guilty – not drawn, quartered and executed simply because someone thinks you’re an outlaw.
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We’ve followed Annalee Newitz’s career here for more than a decade, from her science writing fellowship to her work as an EFF staffer to her founding of IO9 and her move to Ars Technica and the 2013 publication of her first book, nonfiction guidance on surviving the end of the world and rebooting civilization: now, I’m pleased to present an exclusive excerpt from Autonomous, her debut novel, which Tor will publish in September 2017, along with the first look at her cover, designed by the incomparable Will Staehle. As her editor, Liz Gorinsky, notes, “Autonomous takes an action-packed chase narrative and adds Annalee’s well-honed insight into issues of AI autonomy, pharmaceutical piracy, and maker culture to make a book that’s accessible, entertaining, and ridiculously smart.” I’m three quarters of the way through an early copy, and I heartily agree.
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