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  1. MOSCOW, September 19 (RAPSI) – Russian media and communications watchdog (Roskomnadzor) has permanently blocked 234 digital piracy websites, head of the agency Alexander Zharov told journalists on Tuesday. Zharov stated that fight against digital piracy is successful. According to the official, the Moscow City Court blocked 3,700 websites containing stolen content with 2,500 being unblocked after deletion of materials in question. 234 of the websites were blocked permanently, those include online cinemas and torrent-trackers. The official reminded that on October 1, the law on blocking of mirror websites comes into force. President Vladimir Putin signed the law on July 3. It was drafted based on examination of practice of blocking forever websites, which repeatedly and illegally distributed information containing objects of copyright and (or) related rights, or information required for procurement thereof with the use of data telecommunications networks. The examination has revealed some deficiencies including inapplicability of prompt measures regarding automatically created “mirrors” of the blocked websites. The law introduces the term “derived Internet site” (mirror website) into Russian legislation and prescribe the procedure of access restriction to such webpages on grounds of rights holders’ reference to the Moscow City Court. The law also obliges search systems providers to delete information on such websites from the search results.
  2. Tracker's Name: Zone-Torrent V2 Genre: MOVIES / TV / GENERAL Sign-up: http://www.zone-torrent.net/ztv2/sbg_login_classic.php Additional information: Zone-Torrent V2 is a FRENCH Private Torrent Tracker for MOVIES / TV / GENERAL
  3. The Federation Against Copyright Theft, in conjunction with the police and Intellectual Property Office, has released a new report on the state of Internet piracy in the UK. Estimates suggest that at least a million set-top devices providing access to pirated material have been sold over the past two years, with 25% of the public consuming illicit content overall. With the devices hitting the headlines on an almost weekly basis, it probably comes as no surprise that ‘pirate’ set-top boxes are quickly becoming public enemy number one with video rightsholders. Typically loaded with the legal Kodi software but augmented with third-party addons, these often Android-based pieces of hardware drag piracy out of the realm of the computer savvy and into the living rooms of millions. One of the countries reportedly most affected by this boom is the UK. The consumption of these devices among the general public is said to have reached epidemic proportions, and anecdotal evidence suggests that terms like Kodi and Showbox are now household terms. Today we have another report to digest, this time from the Federation Against Copyright Theft, or FACT as they’re often known. Titled ‘Cracking Down on Digital Piracy,’ the report provides a general overview of the piracy scene, tackling well-worn topics such as how release groups and site operators work, among others. The report is produced by FACT after consultation with the Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit, Intellectual Property Office, Police Scotland, and anti-piracy outfit Entura International. It begins by noting that the vast majority of the British public aren’t involved in the consumption of infringing content. “The most recent stats show that 75% of Brits who look at content online abide by the law and don’t download or stream it illegally – up from 70% in 2013. However, that still leaves 25% who do access material illegally,” the report reads. The report quickly heads to the topic of ‘pirate’ set-top boxes which is unsurprising, not least due to FACT’s current focus as a business entity. While it often positions itself alongside government bodies (which no doubt boosts its status with the general public), FACT is a private limited company serving The Premier League, another company desperate to stamp out the use of infringing devices. Nevertheless, it’s difficult to argue with some of the figures cited in the report. “At a conservative estimate, we believe a million set-top boxes with software added to them to facilitate illegal downloads have been sold in the UK in the last couple of years,” the Intellectual Property Office reveals. Interestingly, given a growing tech-savvy public, FACT’s report notes that ready-configured boxes are increasingly coming into the country. “Historically, individuals and organized gangs have added illegal apps and add-ons onto the boxes once they have been imported, to allow illegal access to premium channels. However more recently, more boxes are coming into the UK complete with illegal access to copyrighted content via apps and add-ons already installed,” FACT notes. “Boxes are often stored in ‘fulfillment houses’ along with other illegal electrical items and sold on social media. The boxes are either sold as one-off purchases, or with a monthly subscription to access paid-for channels.” While FACT press releases regularly blur the lines when people are prosecuted for supplying set-top boxes in general, it’s important to note that there are essentially two kinds of products on offer to the public. The first relies on Kodi-type devices which provide on-going free access to infringing content. The second involves premium IPTV subscriptions which are a whole different level of criminality. Separating the two when reading news reports can be extremely difficult, but it’s a hugely important to recognize the difference when assessing the kinds of sentences set-top box suppliers are receiving in the UK. Nevertheless, FACT correctly highlights that the supply of both kinds of product are on the increase, with various parties recognizing the commercial opportunities. “A significant number of home-grown British criminals are now involved in this type of crime. Some of them import the boxes wholesale through entirely legal channels, and modify them with illegal software at home. Others work with sophisticated criminal networks across Europe to bring the boxes into the UK. “They then sell these boxes online, for example through eBay or Facebook, sometimes managing to sell hundreds or thousands of boxes before being caught,” the company adds. The report notes that in some cases the sale of infringing set-top boxes occurs through cottage industry, with suppliers often working on their own or with small groups of friends and family. Invetiably, perhaps, larger scale operations are reported to be part of networks with connections to other kinds of crime, such as dealing in drugs. “In contrast to drugs, streaming devices provide a relatively steady and predictable revenue stream for these criminals – while still being lucrative, often generating hundreds of thousands of pounds a year, they are seen as a lower risk activity with less likelihood of leading to arrest or imprisonment,” FACT reports. While there’s certainly the potential to earn large sums from ‘pirate’ boxes and premium IPTV services, operating on the “hundreds of thousands of pounds a year” scale in the UK would attract a lot of unwanted attention. That’s not saying that it isn’t already, however. Noting that digital piracy has evolved hugely over the past three or four years, the report says that the cases investigated so far are just the “tip of the iceberg” and that many other cases are in the early stages and will only become known to the public in the months and years ahead. Indeed, the Intellectual Property Office hints that some kind of large-scale enforcement action may be on the horizon. “We have identified a significant criminal business model which we have discussed and shared with key law enforcement partners. I can’t go into detail on this, but as investigations take their course, you will see the scale,” an IPO spokesperson reveals. While details are necessarily scarce, a source familiar with this area told TF that he would be very surprised if the targets aren’t the growing handful of commercial UK-based IPTV re-sellers who offer full subscription TV services for a few pounds per month. “They’re brazen. Watch this space,” he said. FACT’s full report, Cracking Down on Digital Piracy, can be downloaded here (pdf) https://torrentfreak.com/a-million-pirate-boxes-sold-in-the-uk-during-the-last-two-years-170919/
  4. If you use a Kodi box to stream or download illegal content, then cyber criminals could be using you to make money, a new report has revealed. The report gives a first-of-its-kind insight into how criminals are profiting from pirating content. One of the scariest tactics highlighted in the report includes putting malware on sites that allows criminals to hijack your computer and spy on you. The report, titled Cracking Down on Digital Piracy, was created by experts from the Intellectual Property Office, FACT, City of London Police, Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit, Police Scotland and Entura International. It gives an insight into digital piracy criminality in the UK, and the crackdown to prevent it. The report found that over one million illegal set-top boxes with add-ons, such as Kodi, were sold in the UK in the last two years, putting the public at significant risk. While the majority of criminals behind digital piracy make their money from advertising – typically banner ads or pop-up windows for casinos or dating sites – the report highlights a range of tactics used. Other money-making scams include subscription fees to access paid-for channels, and charging other criminals to put malware on sites and hijack users' computers. The report estimates that hundreds of millions of pounds go to these criminal groups every year. Kieron Sharp, Director General at FACT, said: 'This report has come at a crucial time in our fight against digital piracy. 'A quarter of Brits access digital material illegally, and often don't realise the risks associated with that, for them and their families. 'Pirates are not Robin Hood characters; they are criminals who do it to make money through illicit means. 'As a result, the risks are high – inappropriate advertising that could be seen by young children, electrical safety associated with counterfeit parts, and financial cyber crime.' The report also mentions several concerning trends emerging that consumers should be aware of. Firstly, it highlights that the availability of illegal add-ons to Kodi software – which have no security standards or controls - has helped organised gangs reach a wider audience. The report also found that social media streaming has overtaken web streaming, helping criminals attract more viewers and putting more users at risk of malware security issues. The 'dark web' is also mentioned, in which more criminal gangs are using the dark web - hidden from the mainstream internet – to sell illicit information, such as the illegal software used to modify set-top boxes or the customer data they've acquired through malware. And finally the report found that many criminals are moving their businesses online, helping them to remain anonymous and avoid capture. DCI Pete Ratcliffe, Head of PIPCU, said: 'While it may be tempting for people to think they are getting a bargain when streaming illegally, it's important to remember that there are organised criminals behind it, often associated with other serious crimes. 'Pirating content is not a petty crime; from release groups, to site operators to set-top box wholesalers and distributors, there is an international criminal business model.'
  5. London (AFP) - Music piracy is on the increase worldwide, with 40 percent of users are accessing unlicensed music, up from 35 percent last year, the global recorded music industry group IFPI said. Internet search engines are making piracy easier, the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) said in a report on Tuesday, calling for government action. The increase in piracy follows a slump in recent years when policing of the digital music landscape appeared to be clamping down on the practice. "Copyright infringement is still growing and evolving, with stream ripping the dominant method," said IPPI chief, Frances Moore. "With the wealth of licensed music available to fans, these types of illegal sites have no justifiable place in the music world," she said, calling for greater regulation of the digital music sector. Based on a survey of consumers in 13 countries, the report found that most unlicensed music listeners were using "stream ripping" to access pirate content. Thirty-five percent of all Internet users were using stream ripping -- up from 30 percent in 2016. Stream ripping sites allow users to turn a file being played on a streaming platform, such as Spotify or YouTube, into one that can be downloaded permanently. The percentage of stream rippers rose to 53 percent among 16-24-year-olds, while only 18 percent of 55-64-year-olds engaged in stream ripping. The report said search engines "play a key role in copyright infringements", with 54 of those downloading unlicensed music using Google to find it. YouTube-mp3.org, the world's most popular stream ripping site in which millions of users converted YouTube videos into audio files, was shut down earlier this month after a legal campaign by IFPI. The music industry -- which has enjoyed a revival in profits after years of stagnation -- has been increasingly aggressive in tackling piracy. In 2015, it succeeded in shutting the popular site Grooveshark. IFPI also said that upload platform YouTube accounts for 46 percent of all the time spent listening to on-demand music but that this dominance was failing to create "fair value" for the music business. It said the estimated annual revenue for the industry per user from Spotify was around $20 (17 euros), compared to less than $1 per user for YouTube. The report also revealed the continuing rise in audio streaming. It found that 45 percent of respondents were now listening to music through a licensed audio streaming service -- up from 37 percent in 2016. It also revealed that 90 percent of paid audio streamers were listening to music using a smartphone. Among 13-to-15-year-olds, 85 percent were using streaming services, according to the survey.
  6. Translate: Dear friends! Here also passed one more year of our beloved tracker's life - rutracker.org! Today we celebrate the 13th anniversary of our tracker, which is the largest Russian (and not only)-speaking media library on this planet. A tracker strangely banished in the country where most of its audience is located - in Russia. But, despite the prohibitions, with all these legislative obstacles, with all technical difficulties, we see that our tracker still exists and is successfully developing. And we still believe that the library should be open and free for all, and not be subject to censorship or a victim of legislative and executive power lobbied by monopolists of the media industry. And the tracker still has Releases! There are Keepers! There are a lot of grateful people who support - who is a kind word, who is a superfluous gigabyte upload - a favorite tracker in hard times! Congratulations to all of you, dear friends, on Rutracker's next birthday! It is thanks to you this tracker lives! It was thanks to you that he was, is, and, for sure, will continue to be the most filled, diverse and, most importantly, quality content in RuNet! You stayed with us when the tracker lost its original name: torrents.ru. You stayed with us when access to the new name was denied in Russia: rutracker.org. You stayed with us when the bt*. trackers were blocked. We will stay with you as long as you need it!
  7. From the site's main page:
  8. The number of music lovers accessing illegal content decreased by two percent in 2016/17, according to new Intellectual Property Office (IPO) figures. A report published by the IPO showed that UK consumers of illegal online content, including music, decreased from nine percent in 2016 to seven percent in 2016/17. Meanwhile, the proportion of those who consumed music legally remained stable at 75 percent. The figures were taken from the seventh Online Copyright Infringement Tracker (OCI), a large scale consumer study which assesses the extent of online infringement each year. Elsewhere in the report, the IPO confirmed its continued action in China to promote copyright best-practice, stating: ‘We continue to lead international efforts to increase royalties paid by Chinese broadcasters for music, with a seminar in Beijing implementing an outcome from the UK-China Economic and Financial Dialogue (EFD) last November.’
  9. Peter Sunde is giving Catalan independence activists free, anonymous hosting and domain names to avoid Spanish government censorship. The north-eastern Spanish region of Catalonia is celebrating an unofficial referendum for its independence on October 1, and the Spanish government is doing anything in its power to stop it—including censoring the internet. The Spanish government has seized the official domains of the referendum: referendum.cat and ref1oct.cat, and activists say it's also using other techniques like manipulating the Domain Name System—the phonebook of the internet—to prevent people from accessing referendum-related sites. Meanwhile, Pirate Bay co-founder and long-time anti-censorship activist Peter Sunde is offering to keep information about the referendum online. Sunde, who is not associated with Pirate Bay anymore, is offering independence activists anonymous hosting and domain names through his new service Njalla. By using the service, Sunde hopes, the Spanish government won't be able to shut them down. "If they have to shut down, at least get[ting] hosting outside the claws of the censors and being anonymous in publishing would be helpful for being able to talk freely," Sunde told Motherboard in an online chat. "In a democracy it must be ok to say you want to leave the democracy." Sunde declined to name the sites who have contacted him to set up anonymous hosting, but he did say that they're already booting up several machines for activists. "The whole point of having a cooperation to have uncensored hosting for people who really need it," he added. "No GoDaddy-style where you get hung out to dry if there's a problem." Even the Catalan government's president, Carles Puigdemont, suggested users to circumvent censorship using proxies in a tweet. A group of Catalan activists are tracking the Spanish government's online censorship efforts on Twitter, as well as on Github. Other than seizing domains, the activists accuse the central government of using Internet Service Providers such as Vodafone or Telefonica Movistar to block the sites with techniques such like DNS spoofing. A spokesperson for Vodafone said in an email that the company, as well as the rest of telecom operators in Spain, "received an order from a judge to block access to certain web pages." "All Vodafone does is comply with the law," the spokesperson told Motherboard. A Telefonica spokesperson also said the company has received a judicial order, and it complied with it "as it couldn't be otherwise." "Hence, there no censorship on our part," the spokesperson said in an email. The local newspaper in Catalonia, Ara.cat, is also tracking Government censorship efforts offline, like removing posters about the referendum, or asking newspapers not to run ads for it. It's unclear how effective these censorship efforts really are. As every internet user knows, censorship usually sparks the Streisand effect, which states that censoring information only ends up drawing more attention to it. A pro-independent Twitter account reported that the alternative referendum domain—ref1oct.ue—has received more than 700,000 visits. "For every door shut," the account tweeted, "there's one that opens."
  10. Apple, the maker of £1,000 smartphones, is finally planning to remove fake anti-virus apps from its App Store. 9to5Mac claims that changes to the Apple developer terms and conditions will give it more leverage against dodgy app developers whose wares don't live up to their claims. "There is also new stronger wording regarding banning apps that have misleading functionality. For example, iOS apps that claim to remove viruses and malware from the system are now explicitly called out as not being allowed, as technically there is no way for them to perform those tasks," the website reports. Apple was asked for comment, which hasn't been forthcoming at the time of writing. There are a lot of other changes too, covering things including Apple's new Face ID and ARKit functionality introduced in iOS 11. "The guidelines say that ARKit apps must offer' rich and integrated augmented reality experiences', suggesting that simple demo and cookie-cutter apps will be rejected. It remains to be seen how strictly the rules will be enforced, of course," reports that site. We have found Apple's latest App Store guidelines, as updated on 14 September, and while it is not exactly clear what parts of it are new, there are elements of it that are very interesting. For example, this rule, which probably does not need to be spelt out: "Apps that solicit, promote, or encourage criminal or clearly reckless behaviour will be rejected. In extreme cases, such as apps that are found to facilitate human trafficking and/or the exploitation of children, appropriate authorities will be notified." Perhaps we are just new to this, but a lot of the guidelines are interesting. This is another one that might be of interest: "Apps should not facilitate illegal file-sharing or include the ability to save, convert, or download media from third-party sources (for example, Apple Music, YouTube, SoundCloud, Vimeo, etc) without explicit authorisation from those sources. "Streaming of audio/video content may also violate Terms of Use, so be sure to check before your app accesses those services. Documentation must be provided upon request." In other words, Apple is extending its control over what you can do on your device. There is also some stuff in there about data sharing, which Apple is also not that keen on: "You may not use or transmit someone's personal data without first obtaining their permission and providing access to information about how and where the data will be used. "Data collected from apps may not be used or shared with third parties for purposes unrelated to improving the user experience or software/hardware performance connected to the app's functionality, or to serve advertising in compliance with the Apple Developer Program License Agreement," says the firm. "Data gathered from the HomeKit API or from depth and/or facial mapping tools (e.g. ARKit, Camera APIs, or Photo APIs) may not be used for advertising or other use-based data mining, including by third parties".
  11. Qatar-based sports broadcaster beIN Sport which holds the TV rights to multiple sports events across 43 countries where it is distributed has joined with 10 of its rightsholders to protest against Saudi Arabian focused web channel beoutQ, which it says is broadcasting beIN’s propriety content in Saudi Arabia without permission. The website operated by providing a series of links to live streaming of matches that are being broadcast by beIN, is a thinly veiled direct assault on the Qatari group in what is becoming the softer business and political battleground of the stand-off between Qatar and Saudi Arabia. beIN is demanding that action is taken against beoutQ and that piracy of their rights is stopped. They have written twice to the Saudi Arabian government but have not received a reply. This follows on from a dispute that arose in Saudi Arabia for the AFC Wrld Cup Qualifiers where beIN claims it was prevented by Saudi officials from exercising their rights to the game as contractually agreed. That dispute is currently under investigation by the AFC which is also anxious to protect its own rights. To enforce their point and in a bid to shut beoutQ down, beIN has teamed up with FIFA, the English Premier League, UEFA, Spain’s LaLiga, the Ligue de Football Professionnel (LFP) in France, the International Olympics Committee (IOC), the All England Lawn Tennis Club, the United States Tennis Association, Tennis Australia, the American National Basketball Association (NBA), as well as anti-piracy body the Audiovisual Anti-Piracy Alliance (AAPA) to form a lobby group. Yousef Al-Obaidly, Deputy Chief Executive Officer at beIN MEedia Group, said: “beIN MEDIA GROUP takes a zero tolerance approach to audiovisual piracy in all its forms and we hope that the Saudi authorities will honor Saudi domestic laws and Saudi Arabia’s international legal obligations to enforce intellectual property rights.” On its website beoutQ says: “We do not host any video content on this site. All copyrighted content to their respective owners. We encourage all copyright owners to recognize that the links on this site are located elsewhere on the web. The embedded link refers to the video website. Please direct all copyright infringement issues to the companies that host these files and not to publish them. If you notice something irregular or some copyright abuse please send email to moc.liamg@00002yalpi The site information says that beaoutQ is “a partnership between a Colombian and Cuban broadcasting companies, we adhere to laws in both countries. Under such laws, our work is 100% legal, and aims to counter exclusive monopolies. Main investors in the company come from Colombia, Cuba, and Arabian Gulf Countries.” The legality of what they are doing is perhaps debateable, but the piracy of the rights is illegal worldwide.
  12. A new anti-telecom fraud app can identify phone numbers used for fraud and filter out phishing websites. The app, co-developed by the anti-telecom crime office of the State Council and e-commerce giant Alibaba, is being exhibited at an Internet security event held in Shanghai from Sept. 16 to 24. The annual event was first held in 2014 and is part of the country's effort to guarantee cyberspace security. The Central Leading Group for Cyberspace Affairs was established in 2014 and has enacted a cybersecurity law and relevant regulations, tightened supervision and cracked down on online crime. "Cybersecurity consists of the security of the people as well as the nation," said Shen Yi, deputy director of the Cyberspace Governance Study Center at Fudan University. He said Internet security could not just be evaluated by technical indicators but also had to bring public benefit. China's web users are enjoying a cleaner Internet environment since various governmental departments have acted to clean up cyberspace. In a recent campaign led by the National Office Against Pornographic and Illegal Publications, an investigative team seized 50 suspects, destroyed 118 websites and took down 913 online billboards that were pornographic or traded in personal information. The office closed 73 illegal live streaming platforms in the first half of this year and imposed life bans on 1,879 live streamers who severely violated regulations. In 2016 alone, Chinese law enforcement confiscated over 16 million illegal publications and banned more than 14,000 harmful websites. Internet forums are also a target of the clean up. The Cyberspace Administration of China published a list of rules in August, requiring real name registration on bulletin boards. A number of Internet users believe it will contain the spread of obscenity, violence, terrorism and false information. The regulations will take effect on Oct. 1. In order to standardize the way Internet companies collect, store, use and transfer private information, several government departments have examined the privacy policies of ten popular domestic Internet products and services. The move aims to prevent criminals from illegally obtaining personal information from the Internet. Internet companies are also playing an active part in the fight against cyber crimes. This May, a piece of malicious software called "WannaCry" attacked computers worldwide, endangering cyberspace security. Internet security companies, including Qihoo 360, Tencent and Kingsoft Security, have since increased security services. A total of 1,116 "Internet police offices" have been set up by the Ministry of Public Security and Internet companies, including Baidu.com and Tencent.com, in an attempt to help investigate illegal information posted on their websites, as well as collect information from the public. A total of 21 universities have established cybersecurity colleges, and China plans to build four to six international-standard Internet security institutes from 2017 to 2027. By 2014, the number of China's Internet security personnel needed in key industry information systems and information infrastructure was 700,000, and the figure will double by 2020, according to Feng Huamin, vice president of Beijing Electronic Science and Technology Institute. But more effort is needed to educate cybersecurity professionals. As of last year, China only had 143 Internet security majors spread over 126 universities, which is approximately 10 percent of technology universities.
  13. The fast transmission of digital data has facilitated access to online pirated content. Among some consumers this has resulted in an expectation of getting "something for nothing" - an unfortunate by-product of the Internet era which has seen a huge devaluation in the work of artists, musicians, directors, actors and others making entertainment products. A survey released by Singapore-based Sycamore Research, commissioned by our association, shows that two in five people surveyed online turn to pirated content , often using Android TV boxes (also known as Illicit Streaming Devices) to stream illegal content to their television sets. Such devices, which are easily and cheaply available in Singapore, are configured with software that enables consumers to stream audio-visual content from an illegal streaming server. Configuring TV boxes in this way allows the consumer to have plug-and-play access to subscription TV, live sports and films for free or at prices well below those of legitimate services. Payment for access to illicit content can be wrapped into the purchase price of the device, or alternatively through annual "subscription" payments. Some Singaporeans may think such acts are harmless. Or they may realise that content theft damages creative industries. But not many people recognise that digital piracy harms consumers themselves, because of the nexus between content piracy and malware. Consumers who intentionally or unwittingly access pirated content by purchasing Illicit Streaming Devices (ISDs) to stream live sports events or view the latest TV shows may actually end up paying the hidden price of piracy. Earlier this year, a fake Netflix application was discovered by cyber-security experts which could take control of a user's device (via an Android TV box or directly via a smartphone or smart TV). This piece of malware embedded in the fake Netflix application is known as a Remote Access Trojan (or RAT) and allowed hackers to gain access to the device's e-mails and data files as well as the webcam and microphone, and remotely record whatever they see or hear. The fake app, downloaded from an unofficial source rather than from the Google Play Store, was designed to take photos or videos of their victims in intimate settings as well as gain access to passwords, contact lists, e-mails and text messages. Such stolen data was used to humiliate and taunt victims, and sometimes for extortion. In March, hackers were found to have embedded RAT spyware viruses in movie sub-titling applications designed to be downloaded onto TV boxes which use an open-source media player known as Kodi. Unlike TV boxes manufactured by legitimate platforms, few ISDs have a mechanism to update the box's software when specific malware has been detected. One could say they are a ready-made RAT trap for consumers. Users should have a right to know the nature of their vulnerabilities when buying or using any product or service; however, it is unlikely that re-sellers of ISDs have much concern (or knowledge) about the consumers' security or privacy. Last year, thousands of visitors to the content theft site The Pirate Bay were infected with ransomware, which was embedded in malicious "pop-under" advertising on the website and programmed to encrypt all files and data found on the victim's device. Once encrypted, each victim would have been left staring at a fixed landing page which threatened the permanent loss of all data unless a ransom payment was made within a specified time frame. This ransomware attack against visitors to The Pirate Bay site was timed to use the start of the new season of the popular TV show Game Of Thrones as bait to infect the devices of as many as possible of the more than a million people who illegally downloaded the first episode within 12 hours. Ransomware targets many different types of devices, from computers to ISDs, smart TVs and smartphones. In May this year, the WannaCry ransomware attack hit more than 150 countries, including Singapore. A recent study by Malwarebytes highlights the growth of dangerous malware across Asia: Ransomware alone grew by more than 250 per cent from January to November last year. The urgency of the malware threat and hackers targeting the piracy ecosystems' click-happy user-base still needs to be better understood and dealt with by governments and stakeholders. In the United States, it has become a major component of the consumer risk discussion, with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) recently warning consumers of the malware/piracy nexus. " 'Something for nothing' sounds appealing, but often there's a hidden cost. If the something is a site or application offering free downloads or streams of well-known movies, popular TV shows, big-league sports, and absorbing games, the hidden cost is probably malware. "Sites offering free content often hide malware that can bombard you with ads, take over your computer, or steal your personal information." As the saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. So, what can Singaporean households do to make informed decisions and safeguard themselves? Install apps and add-ons to your smart TV or devices only from trusted sources. Ensure device software, especially anti-virus and firewall protection, is up to date and consider covering the webcam lens when it is not in use. And finally, stay away from content theft sites. The piracy ecosystem is a hotbed for malware, whether purchasing ISDs from Sim Lim Square or downloading content from infamous torrent sites. Sycamore research found that 74 per cent of self-confessed pirates recognise that accessing pirated TV shows, movies or live sports events places them at greater risk of getting viruses , spyware or other malware. But apparently, their appetite for free content, or paying cheap subscription rates for stolen content, blinded them to the very real risks of malware infection. Trying to get something for nothing can come at a high price.
  14. W3C lays out the case for anti-piracy, anti-copying defenses Anti-piracy and anti-copying protections are now formally part of the World Wide Web after an effort to vote down content controls at the WWW's standards body failed. The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) has been embroiled in controversy for five years over the introduction of the Encrypted Media Extensions (EME) specification. It finally went to a vote and was approved by 58.4 per cent, with 30.8 per cent opposed and the rest abstaining. Some argue that a so-called digital rights management standard is needed so browsers have a common way to make sure that things like copyrighted videos are protected uniformly across the web. The EME technology is designed to stop people saving, copying and sharing copies of movies and other high-quality stuff streamed online without permission. Meanwhile, others have been fiercely opposed to the DRM mechanisms on principle: contending that the W3C should only ever create standards that promote an open internet. The argument has also laid bare a rift in the standards body between internet engineers who see themselves as the guardians of the internet's open philosophy, and corporate interests who have increasing sway over the W3C. The tipping point likely came in the form of web inventor Tim Berners Lee who, as director of the W3C, argued in March for the inclusion of EME, having long tried to steer clear of the controversy. "W3C is not the US Congress, or WIPO, or a court," he argued. "W3C is a place for people to talk, and forge consensus over great new technology for the web. Yes, there is an argument made that in any case, W3C should just stand up against DRM [digital rights management], but we, like Canute, understand our power is limited." Berners-Lee noted that EME would promote greater interoperability and enable the data provided by content use to be limited, improving online privacy. Defeatist But critics were not persuaded, criticizing the W3C and Berners-Lee for their "defeatist" attitudes and for selling out to commercial interests. They argued that the proposal will "give corporations the new right to sue people who engaged in legal activity." Three formal objections to the proposal were launched: It does not provide adequate protection for users It will be hard to include in free software It doesn't legally protect security researchers After some back-and-forth and a few minor changes, the EME recommendation moved forward to a vote and was passed. The decision sparked a considerable effort by the W3C to argue its case. CEO Jeff Jaffe wrote a blog post in which he argued that the debate over EME wasn't actually about W3C standards, so much as a societal shift. "W3C did not create DRM and we did not create DMCA. DRM has been used for decades prior to the EME debate," he wrote." But in recent years it is a credit to the World Wide Web that the web has become the delivery vehicle for everything, including movies. Accordingly, it was inevitable that we would face issues of conflicting values and the appropriate accommodations for commercial use of the web." Jaffe argued that discussion within the W3C has done what it was supposed to do: improve a technical specification. "Critics of early versions of the spec raised valid issues about security, privacy, and accessibility," he wrote. He also acknowledged that critics' last sticking point – an effort to legally protect security researchers by allowing them to test and break encryption methods – did not make it through. That was largely because corporate interests felt such an approach would amount to a legal backdoor for hackers. His fault But even Jaffe wasn't keen to stick his neck on the line, noting: "In the end, the inventor of the world wide web, the director of W3C, Tim Berners-Lee, took in all of the diverse input and provided a thoughtful decision which addressed all objections in detail." He concluded: "My personal reflection is that we took the appropriate time to have a respectful debate about a complex set of issues and provide a result that will improve the web for its users." The W3C also published a list of testimonials from companies including Netflix, Microsoft and the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) arguing why EME was a good thing, and outlined in detail why users will benefit from the recommendation. But one of the most persistent critics of the proposal, Cory Doctorow of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, who also proposed and help organize the protest vote, was not persuaded. In an "open letter" to the W3C, Jaffe and Berners-Lee, Doctorow focused on the failed "compromise" that would give legal protection to "legitimate activities, like research and modifications, that required circumvention of DRM," and attacked Berners-Lee for "personally overriding every single objection raised by the members." He went on: "Somewhere along the way, the business values of those outside the web got important enough, and the values of technologists who built it got disposable enough, that even the wise elders who make our standards voted for something they know to be a fool's errand." The W3C had "squandered the perfect moment to exact a promise to protect those who are doing that work for them," Doctorow said, and somewhat dramatically announced at the end of the letter that the EFF was leaving the standards organization in response. And so the Great Browser Battle of 2017 was ended.
  15. Earlier this year, domains owned by third-party Kodi addon platform TVAddons were transferred to a law firm. This prompted concerns, in what was then an information black hole, that something nefarious was underway. While it's clear today that isn't the case, some users refuse to be convinced while others seem happy to throw fuel on the fire. A few months ago, TVAddons was without doubt the leading repository for third-party Kodi addons. During March, the platform had 40 million unique users connected to the site’s servers, together transferring a petabyte of addons and updates. In June, however, things started to fall apart. After news broke that the site was being sued in a federal court in Texas, TVAddons disappeared. It was assumed these events were connected but it later transpired the platform was being used in Canada as well, and that was the true reason for the downtime. While it’s easy to be wise after the event, in hindsight it might’ve been better for the platform to go public about the Canadian matter quite a bit sooner than it did. Of course, there are always legal considerations that prevent early disclosure, but when popular sites disappear into a black hole, two plus two can quickly equal five when fed through the web’s rumor machine. Things weren’t helped in July when it was discovered that the site’s former domains had been handed over to a Canada-based law firm. Again, no official explanation was forthcoming and again, people became concerned. If this had been a plaintiff’s law firm, people would’ve had good reason to worry, since it would have been technically possible to spy on TVAddons’ users. However, as the truth began to filter out and court papers became available, it soon became crystal clear that simply wasn’t the case. The bottom line, which is backed up by publicly available court papers, is that the law firm holding the old TVAddons domains is not the law firm suing TVAddons. Instead, it was appointed by the court to hold TVAddons’ property until the Canadian lawsuit is brought to a conclusion, whenever that might be. “They have a legal obligation to protect our property at all cost, and prevent anyone (especially the law firm who is suing is) from gaining access to them,” says TVAddons. “The law firm who is holding them is doing nothing more than protecting our property until the time that it will finally be returned after the appeal takes place.” Unfortunately, assurances provided by TVAddons and information published by the court itself hasn’t been enough to stop some people fearing the worst. While the facts have plenty of support on Twitter and Facebook, there also appears to be an element who would like to see TVAddons fail in its efforts to re-establish itself. Only time will tell who will win that battle but in the meantime, TVAddons has tried to cover all the bases in an update post on its blog. https://torrentfreak.com/tvaddons-a-law-firm-is-not-spying-on-our-kodi-users-170918/