MediaDefender becomes MediaAttacker

by Mathew on May 29, 2008

We’ve all heard of some boneheaded moves on the part of the record industry when it comes to dealing with the rampant downloading of music. Take the Sony rootkit, for example, not to mention suing 12-year-olds and then wondering why the PR outcome is less than desirable. But I have to say that this incident really takes the cake. According to Jim Louderback of Revision3, the TV arm of the Digg empire, the company’s BitTorrent server was taken down by what amounts to a denial-of-service attack — an attack that appears to have come from MediaDefender, an “anti-piracy” company whose major clients are the global record companies, TV networks and Hollywood movie studios.

It’s actually even more devious than just that, however. According to a couple of execs at MediaDefender, the flood of SYN requests that overloaded the server came about because the anti-piracy group’s network was actually trying to reconnect to Torrent files that it had stored on the Revision3 server — without the company’s permission or knowledge. According to MediaDefender, the company was only trying to re-establish contact with its own files, which Revision3 had shut off access to. As Louderback describes it:

It’s as if McGruff the Crime Dog snuck into our basement, enlisted an army of cellar rats to eat up all of our cheese, and then burned the house down when we finally locked him out – instead of just knocking on the front door to tell us the window was open.

I know I said that this particular idiotic move takes the cake, but there’s plenty of cake to go around where MediaDefender is concerned. There’s the whole debacle involving Miivi, for example — a file-sharing network that was set up by MediaDefender as a kind of honey trap for P2P users, whose user info was then turned over to the RIAA and others. And speaking of turning data over to the authorities, Louderback says that the FBI is looking into MediaDefender’s use of what amounts to a DOS attack, something that is illegal in most states.

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