MediaDefender is a company that acts on behalf of other media companies to muck up P2P and file sharing networks. They're the ones seeding BitTorrent with fake files - a tactic they hope will make filesharing appear to be too much of a hassle and therefore not worth the effort. In September of last year, MediaDefender was in the news for some leaked emails which helped The Pirate Bay prove that the company had hired professional hackers and saboteurs to bring down the world-famous file-trading site. Now, it seems MediaDefender is at it again. This time their target was Revision3, home to popular shows like Diggnation, Tekzilla, Systm, and The GigaOm Show.
A post on the Rev3 blog today reveals that the company responsible for this weekend's DoS attack on their servers was none other than MediaDefender.
Revision3 uses Bittorrent to help distribute their shows across the web by running their own tracker which coordinates the sharing and downloading of their content. Despite this perfectly legal and legitimate practice, MediaDefender set their sights on Revision3's servers and flooded them with SYN packets, effectively shutting them down.
on the Rev3 blog, "it's as if they wanted us to know who they were."What's even stranger is that MediaDefender didn't even bother to spoof the packets they sent - each one was easily traceable. As Jim Louderback explains it
The real question now is who hired MediaDefender to do this damage? The company acts on behalf of its clients, who in the past have included Sony, Universal Music, the RIAA, and the MPAA. One can only imagine that today's list of old media companies fearing Revision3's success is a mile long.
Once Louderback determined MediaDefender was behind the attack, he got on the phone to the ArtistDirect interim CEO Dimitri Villard (MediaDefender is a subsidiary of Artist Direct) and Ben Grodsky, Vice President of Operations at Media Defender. Villard admitted that MediaDefender had been abusing Revision3's network for months, allowing them to use the tracking server to point to non-Revision3 files. When Rev3 noticed that and began to de-authorize those rogue files, it set off the flood of SYN packets which were attempting to reconnect to the files stored on the company's servers. Although Grodsky admits that his servers sent the packets, he claimed it was only every three hours. Rev3's logs show 8,000+ packets per second.
Why Hasn't MediaDefender Been Shut Down?
To sum up, MediaDefender was using Revision3's server without approval, they appear to be lying about the level of the attack, and they had no business attacking Revision3 in the first place since the company runs a legitimate business that just happens to use Bittorrent as a distribution technology.
In the end, Louderback concludes "I don't think Media Defender deliberately targeted Revision3 specifically...the company has a history of using their servers to launch denial of service attacks against distributors. They saw us as a "distributor"..." We're not so sure, but it looks like it's now going to be up to the FBI to sort it out, since they have been contacted and are now involved.
Ultimately, the situation again brings to light the very questionable business tactics of MediaDefender itself. If traditional media companies are using MediaDefender as a hired gun to attack "illegal" filesharing networks and a side effect of those attacks is the takedown of a legitimate business, then it's time this information was publicly revealed and addressed in a court of law. Enough with the vigilante tactics - it's time MediaDefender was shut down for good themselves.
Image courtesy of Revision3