Two employees of anti-piracy outfit MarkScan have been arrested by Indian police. The men are accused of masquerading as competing anti-piracy firm Aiplex, informing its clients via a fake website that the company was shutting down, and suggesting MarkScan as an alternative. The CEO of the company was allegedly in on the scam, which is still under investivation.
That’s all super sketchy. But that’s just the very beginning of this story. Because days later, Thejesh received the most ridiculous legal threat letter, coming from a lawyer named Ameet Mehta from the law firm Solicis Lex. It claims to be representing an Israeli company, Flash Network, which is apparently responsible for the code injection software… and it claims that by merely revealing to the public that Airtel was doing these injections, he had engaged in criminal copyright infringement under the Information Technology Act, 2000.
The National Security Agency and its closest allies planned to hijack data links to Google and Samsung app stores to infect smartphones with spyware, a top-secret document reveals.
The surveillance project was launched by a joint electronic eavesdropping unit called the Network Tradecraft Advancement Team, which includes spies from each of the countries in the “Five Eyes” alliance — the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, New Zealand and Australia.
The top-secret document, obtained from NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, was published Wednesday by CBC News in collaboration with The Intercept. The document outlines a series of tactics that the NSA and its counterparts in the Five Eyes were working on during workshops held in Australia and Canada between November 2011 and February 2012.
The main purpose of the workshops was to find new ways to exploit smartphone technology for surveillance. The agencies used the Internet spying system XKEYSCORE to identify smartphone traffic flowing across Internet cables and then to track down smartphone connections to app marketplace servers operated by Samsung and Google. (Google declined to comment for this story. Samsung said it would not be commenting “at this time.”)
As part of a pilot project codenamed IRRITANT HORN, the agencies were developing a method to hack and hijack phone users’ connections to app stores so that they would be able to send malicious “implants” to targeted devices. The implants could then be used to collect data from the phones without their users noticing.
Previous disclosures from the Snowden files have shown agencies in the Five Eyes alliance designed spyware for iPhones and Android smartphones, enabling them to infect targeted phones and grab emails, texts, web history, call records, videos, photos and other files stored on them. But methods used by the agencies to get the spyware onto phones in the first place have remained unclear.
The newly published document shows how the agencies wanted to “exploit” app store servers — using them to launch so-called “man-in-the-middle” attacks to infect phones with the implants. A man-in-the-middle attack is a technique in which hackers place themselves between computers as they are communicating with each other; it is a tactic sometimes used by criminal hackers to defraud people. In this instance, the method would have allowed the surveillance agencies to modify the content of data packets passing between targeted smartphones and the app servers while an app was being downloaded or updated, inserting spyware that would be covertly sent to the phones.
This is not how this works… This is not how anything works.
Entertainment companies all around the globe bemoan the fact that their creations cost millions to create and often require years of preparation, but all that can be undone in an instant by pirates.
It’s certainly true that any media – whether movies, music or software – can be instantly cloned and distributed to a potential audience of hundreds of millions. According to the industry the doomsday scenario of this position is that filmmakers, musicians, authors and coders will eventually give up the game and go do something else more profitable instead.
Of course, this hasn’t happened yet, largely due to the fact that the public is still digging deep. Hollywood, for example, is having its best year on record. But what if all content suddenly stopped appearing on physical and digital shelves. What would the pirates do then?
Well, if the threats of India’s Tamil Film Producer’s Council (TFPC) come to fruition, we won’t have long to find out. Plagued by the menace of persistent and large scale piracy of their movies, the Council is close to making the most radical stand against copyright infringement ever seen.
Yesterday the TFPC held their general meeting and of course piracy was high on the agenda. Several solutions were reportedly discussed but one came to the forefront – a complete boycott on releasing films for the foreseeable future.
“Some groups wanted a six-month ban, while others wanted a three-month ban,” said council president Kalaipuli S Thanu.
The producer and distributor, who regained control of TFPC in January following allegations of corruption against his rivals, said that something drastic needs to be done.
“The basic fact is that all producers are suffering losses and we have to look into that. We have asked them for some time to call in all the parties concerned and try to reach a resolution that is beneficial to everybody.”
In addition to promising the establishment of a dedicated anti-piracy unit compromised of ex-police officers, Thanu says that not releasing movies at all will be the best way to hit pirates.
“Piracy will automatically stop when there’s no content. When we stop film releases, say for three months, the movie pirates will go out of business. We are looking into this option because film producers have suffered heavily in the last 24 months,” Thanu said.