You have to read this tremendous description of this past weekend's events at Revision3 written by Jim Lauderback. MediaDefender , a mercenary service hosted in California, makes a regular practice of "fighting illegal distribution of copyrighted content" by poisoning Bit Torrent servers with spurious files that spoof things like, oh, full copies of The Matrix. The idea is to essentially spam the Bit Torrent Peer to Peer network so that it is not an effective tool for file sharing.
Just one problem. Bit Torrent has thousands of legitimate uses, including efficiently distributing original content such as the videos that Revision3 produces. I am sure the full story will come out after the law suit dust settles (after the injunction that shuts down MediaDefender and puts them out of business). For now we know that MediaDefender's banks of high end servers spewed over 8,000 SYN packets per second at Revision3's Bit Torrent tracker servers. The resultant collateral damage caused a complete loss of business for Revision3 over the Memorial Day weekend.
Is it OK to take the law in your own hands and attack Internet servers, one of whose functions is to distribute pirated material from your clients? No. Is it OK to amass weapons on the Internet for the purpose of generating and sending SYN floods? No! Are you liable for loss of business and other damages if your Internet weapons cause damage to others? Should you go to jail if you engage in this type of activity for your clients?
Let's see what the courts say.
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Richard Stiennon is a security industry analyst. He is currently consulting, speaking and writing on all manner of security topics for IT-Harvest, the IT research firm he founded to cover the security space. He was most recently chief marketing officer for Fortinet. He has served stints at PricewaterhouseCoopers, Gartner, and Webroot Software.