Bit Torrent user’s who scored pre-released versions of the Windows 7 RC may have gotten more then they bargained for. Malware-laced copies of Microsoft’s newest OS were seeded to torrents in late April, and security researchers are warning users who may have downloaded Windows 7 from non-Microsoft sources, to format, and reinstall their OS.
Adoption rate of the pirated version has slowed since the official release, but as many as 27,000 machines were estimated to be compromised when the command and control center for the bot net was located and finally shut down on May 10th by authorities. Currently, researchers at Damballa are monitoring installations of the infected version, and estimate that approximately 1,600 new machines are added per day. The good news here is that new installations won’t be drafted into the bot net, but it’s still not a good idea to run software from non-trusted sources.
Blocking this type of infection is difficult researchers confess since the Trojan was integrated into the OS installer, and it became active immediately following setup. The situation is also compounded by the reality that Windows 7 still has very limited anti virus options. Operating systems however aren’t the only attack vector for those looking to poison torrents. Similar malware infested Trojans were found in other popular torrented applications including iWork 09 and even Photoshop CS4.
Softpedia reports that pirated copies of Windows 7 will be provided with security updates, update rollups, and even service packs. What is Microsoft thinking? Is Redmond promoting piracy?
The idea of providing security and other updates to pirated copies as well as legit copies of Windows might seem crazy, but here's the reasoning, straight from Paul Cooke, director of Windows Client Enterprise Security:
Keeping a machine up to date is one of the first steps in helping ensure that they remain reliable, compatible, and safe from threats when they are online. Some of the most famous incidents of malicious software infection have come after security updates were publicly available from Microsoft - Blaster, Zotob, Conficker and Sasser, just to name a few. Rest assured that we at Microsoft are committed to making sure that security updates are available to all of our users to help ensure a safe online experience for everyone.
Note that Cooke is laying the blame for many recent security problems where it belongs: on users and companies who will not upgrade their software to block such threats. By continuing the recent policy of allowing users of non-genuine Windows to receive security updates, Microsoft is saying, in effect, 'don't blame us if unpatched systems are compromised.'
However, don't think that Redmond's turning a patched eye to either casual piracy or software counterfeiting. Pirated copies of Windows 7 won't be eligible for some of Microsoft's goodies, and Softpedia points out that counterfeit copies of Windows often come with a "free" bonus: malware.
For your chance to sound off on security for software pirates, join us after the jump.
The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) would have you believe that illegally downloading music is crippling an artist's ability to make a living, and so the association, with music artists' best interest in mind of course, has led the crusade against piracy with lawsuit after lawsuit. But is the RIAA only hurting the music industry's best customers?
According a new study by the BI Norwegian School of Management, those who download music illegally via P2P networks are also more likely to pay for digital downloads. The study pinged more than 1,900 internet users over the age of 15, and according to the study's researchers, those who pirate music also bought a staggering ten times as much legal music than those who steer clear of P2P.
"The most surprising is that the proportion of paid download is so high," said Audun Molde from the Norwegian School of Management.
Not surprisingly, record labels are taking the study with a grain of salt. EMI's Bjørn Rogstad believes there is no way to know for sure whether or not illegal downloads stimulate pay downloads, adding "There is one thing that is not going away, and it is the consumption of music increases, while revenue declines. It can not be explained in any way other than that the illegal downloading is over the legal sale of music."
We're not sure if this is just an excuse to dress up as pirates and wave the Jolly Roger in a public setting (and admit it, you've wanted to do this since the first time you rode Disneyland's Pirates of the Caribbean ride as a child), but a band of Swedish 'pirates' marched in protest of the Stockholm district court scalawags who issued a guilty verdict in the Pirate Bay trial. Pirate Bay's founders -- Gottfrid Svartholm Warg, Peter Sunde, Fredrik Neij and Carl Lundstrom -- were each sentenced to walk the plank one year in jail and ordered to be pay 30 million kronor ($3.6 million) in damages to several major media companies following the ruling on Friday.
Hundreds of protesters took to the streets led by Sweden's Pirate Party, a political organization which supports free file sharing for noncommercial use, many of which could be seen wearing bandannas and other pirate-attire. The party said it's membership shot up 20 percent to about 20,000 after the verdict was announced.
"The establishment and the politicians have delcared war against our whole generation," said Rickard Falkvinge, party Chairman and founder.
While unconfirmed, we hear that several court officials, fearful the protest might turn physical, made a clean getaway after someone distracted the crowd by shouting out, "Look behind you, a three-headed monkey!"
The pirate bay is taking on water at a frantic pace, and while an appeal in the trial is still likely, odds are pretty good that site may soon be brought down once and for all through a court injunction. Truth is though; the Pirate Bay brought this down on themselves. By picking up the torch that Napster and Kazaa dropped, they painted a huge bulls eye on their chest and blatantly taunted the movie and music industry by posting take down notices on the site, a sign of open defiance.
Though they may soon pay the price for these actions, it remains to be seen who the movie and music industry would consider to be “next on the list”. Tracker sites like Mininova, isoHunt, and Demonoid come to mind, but one searching tool rules them all, Google. Type any movie or TV show into Google followed by the word “torrent” and every tracking site, including many lesser known domains; spill their results for the world to see. In fact according to Google Trends, searches for the term “wolverine torrent” quadrupled after the movie was leaked onto peer-to-peer networks.
Google claims they are quick to remove offending content, but it’s a never ending battle. When one torrent link dies, dozens more take their place.
Can Google be held legally liable for this? It’s hard to say but with the Pirate Bay gone, we may soon find out! What do you think?
Breaking: The Swedish District court holding the infamous Pirate Bay trial issued a Guilty verdict early this morning, sentencing each of the four defendents involved to one year of jail time and split fines of 3.6 million dollars. The founders of the Pirate Bay were found guilty of assisting copyright infringement, even though half of the initial charges against them were dropped shortly after the trial began. The complete verdict can be found here (in Swedish). More news on the ramifications of this trial as it develops.
In what might not have been the brightest move in hindsight, 10-year Foxnews.com columnist Roger Friedman posted a short review of the pirated flick "X-Men Origins: Wolverine," which will be released in theaters May 1st. Consider that 20th Century Fox is a subsidiary of News Corp, and it shouldn't be too surprising the suits in charge opted to issue Friedman a pink slip.
"Roger Friedman's views in no way reflect the views of News Corporation," News Corp. said in a statement. "We, along with 20th Century Film Corporation, have been a consistent leader in the fight against piracy and have a zero tolerance for any action that encourages and promotes piracy. When we advised Fox News of the facts, they took immediate action, removed the post, and promptly terminated Mr. Friedman."
The statement issued by Fox News wasn't quite as harsh, claiming Friedman and Fox News "mutually agreed to part ways immediately" and wishing Friedman "success in his future endeavors."
It probably didn't help Friedman's case that, in addition to writing about Wolverine, he said he was also able to find the current top 10 movies in theaters, and that "Later tonight I may finally catch up with Paul Rudd in 'I Love You, Man.' It's so much easier than going out in the rain!"
Sweden recently enforced a new anti-piracy policy that lets copyright holders quickly acquire the identity of major pirates and prosecute them directly through the courts, without any police intervention at all – and a many took notice.
According to Netnod, a Swedish web tracking firm, web traffic on the day the policy went into place dropped from 120GB/s to 80GB/s. But, the drop is likely temporary according to the VP of Sweden’s (I kid you not) Pirate Party, Christian Engstrom, who states, “Today, there is a very drastic reduction in internet traffic. But experience from other countries suggests that while file-sharing drops on the day a law is passed, it starts climbing again… One of the reasons is that it takes people a few weeks to figure out how to change their security settings so that can share files anonymously.”
Still, the law has been under fire due to its allowing major corporations to circumvent the police by means of direct lawsuits. Obtaining specific information is as easy as going to the uploader’s ISP, who will then get his IP and identity.
What do you think? Is it fair to let copyright holders protect their products at any cost, or is it the beginning of a long line of abuse from major corporations? Let us know after the jump.
In what initially looked to be an April Fool's Day prank, film distributor 20th Century Fox wasn't laughing when it learned its upcoming movie "X-Men: Origins: Wolverine" was viewed by thousands of people a month before the flick is scheduled to show on the big screen. While pirated movies showing up online isn't anything new, this particular leak is rare given that it hadn't even premiered yet.
"The source of the initial leak and any subsequent postings will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of thelaw," 20th Century Fox said. "The courts have handed down significant criminal sentences for such acts in the past."
According to 20th Century Fox, both the FBI and MPAA are investigating the leak. Some estimates peg the illicit release as having been downloaded hundreds of thousands of times in its first 24 hours on the web. However, Eric Garland, chief executive of the file-sharing monitoring firm BigChampagne, said that online viewers would only account for a small percentage of the film's total audience.
Garland did also point out that bad word of mouth could be a concern. The copy that was leaked to the internet was missing many special effects and included temporary sound and music.
Pirates of all ilks are locked in a game of cat and mouse with regulators and content proprietors. Throughout their endless war, both have tightly clung to Newton’s third law: every regulation (action) has an equal and opposite ruse (action). Microsoft has come up with a fresh way to stymie videogame piracy. Its newfangled anti-piracy measure will prevent gamers from enjoying illicit copies of games before the street date.
"We have zero-day piracy protection—this helps reduce the leakage of IP before release. The bits are encrypted, and there is a one-time activation that checks to see if the game has been released or not, and we'll send out a decrypt code so the game can be played." Drew Johnston, the product unit manager for the Windows Gaming Platform, told Ars Technica. How will pirates respond?