A group of Russian developers is touting a technology they say can kill off BitTorrent-based P2P file sharing – and says they have attracted investment from Microsoft.
According to a story in Russia Beyond the Headlines, the technology developed by Andrei Klimenko, his brother Alexei, and Dmitry Shuvaev has attracted $US100,000 from Microsoft’s seed investment fund, and another $US34,000 from the Bortnik Fund.
The company they have founded, called Pirate Pay, also claims to have conducted successful proof-of-concept tests, blocking “50,000” downloads of the movie Vysotsky: Thanks go God I’m Alive in the month after its release.
What’s not clear, either from the original story or the TorrentFreak follow-up, is exactly how the technology works. From the hints dropped by Andrei Klimenko, Pirate Pay operates what is essentially a BitTorrent-specific, cloud-based denial of service.
“We used a number of servers to make a connection to each and every p2p client that distributed this film,” Klimenko says of the technology test. “Then Pirate Pay sent specific traffic to confuse these clients about the real I.P. addresses of other clients and to make them disconnect from each other.” (Emphasis added).
If El Reg’s understanding of the service is accurate, then it would live in a legal grey area. For example, this explanation from the Australian Federal Police makes it clear that Australian law regards any denial-of-service as illegal, but “for a matter to fall within the jurisdiction of Australian police” both the attacker and target have to be in Australia. Anything else would need to invoke international co-operation, and that would assume that the attacking computer was somewhere amenable to such co-operation.
However, what’s also clear at least under laws familiar to El Reg is that computer crimes legislation doesn’t distinguish between “good” and “evil” DoS. It defines any “impairment of electronic communication to or from a computer” as breaking the law.