Pirates beware! The creator of a new Web based search engine says that linking you up with your (illegal) downloads is easier than you may think.
Suren Ter Saakov, the creator of the Web site youhavedownloaded.com, said his new Web site can link legal and illegal downloading activity from a number of file sharing sites to a database pf 52 million online identities. The service is just a proof-of-concept, but could create headaches for public figures and others who have been pirating content online.
In an e-mail interview with Threatpost, Saakov said the site boasts a database of more than 52 million users, 111,000 torrents and 1.9 million files representing 104 TB of data. Users can search the database by IP address, file name or by the name of a torrent (download file). It can then inform users what IP addresses are associated with what downloads, or if anything has been downloaded from a particular IP address.
Saakov said the site is akin to the kinds of tools that industry groups like the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) use to find individuals who may be hosting or downloading copyright protected files online. However, he said the site is “for fun” and has no affiliation with those groups.
However, critics have already raised red flags about youhavedownloaded.com. The site doesn’t contend with the phenomenon of dynamically assigned IP addresses, which are commonly used on many networks and mean that the different systems could sport the same IP address at different times, as Brian Krebs notes in his own piece on the matter. Beyond that, Internet users who take advantage of anonymization services like ToR would likely be shielded from discovery. Saakov acknowledges the weaknesses of his system. He told Threatpost that he could go deeper in terms of identifying real users, drawing connections between IP addresses and real-life individuals, but he says the site is more a social experiment than a technical one, so he sees no reason to do so.
Online piracy has been a contentious issue for the better part of the last decade. The debate, however, has heated up over the last year as the US Legislature considers the passage controversial laws, like the PROTECT IP and Stop Online Piracy Acts, considered by many experts to be too restrictive and overly vague.