SOPA and PIPA What Went Wrong


The postponing of SOPA and PIPA last week was a relief to security gurus who foresaw major technical problems inherent in the bills’ provisions. Last week U.S. Congress was rushing to pass a controversial bill that most security experts maintained could throw a monkey wrench into the gearbox of the Internet.


The bills themselves have been postponed, and their main sponsors have specifically disavowed the supposed security pain points they contained.


The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), filed in the U.S. House of Representatives, and its Senate counterpart, the Protect IP Act (PIPA), proposed that Internet Service Providers (ISPs) be called on to block the DNS addresses of websites suspected of violating the rights of copyright holders.


But after weeks of controversy from opponents of the legislation, capped by a one-day blackout of Wikipedia and other sites in protest of the measure, the sponsors of the bills decided to strip out the DNS requirements.


“After consultation with industry groups across the country, I feel we should remove Domain Name System blocking from the Stop Online Piracy Act so that the [Judiciary] Committee can further examine the issues surrounding this provision,” SOPA’s sponsor Lamar Smith (R-Texas) said.


PIPA’s sponsor, Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont), was skeptical of the critics of the DNS provisions in his bill, but also agreed to shelve the provision.


“I remain confident that the ISPs — including the cable industry, which is the largest association of ISPs — would not support the legislation if its enactment created the problems that opponents of this provision suggest,” he said. “Nonetheless,” he continued, “this is in fact a highly technical issue, and I am prepared to recommend we give it more study before implementing it.”


The DNS concessions were good news for white hats like Dan Brown, a senior security researcher with Bit9. “Anyone who understands how the Internet works thinks it’s a bad idea for Congress to fiddle with something they don’t understand,” he told TechNewsWorld.


“These bills are still bad because they will have a negative impact on free speech and free communication on the Internet,” he asserted, “but they appear to be moving in the direction of not having any major technological impact on the Internet.”


For more info check out this online article from PC World



Anonymous lashes out and promises more to come

Government and big business once again clashed with the anarchic hacker collective “Anonymous” last week. The sore point between the two this time was the FBI’s shutdown of the alleged pirate haven Megaupload and the arrest of its founder and other executives in the company.


Megaupload has been in and out of hot water since it was launched in March 2005. Since that time, according to the FBI, the site has produced $175 million in “criminal proceeds” for its owners.


In retaliation for the government action, the hacker group known simply as “Anonymous”, launched a series of denial of service attacks against servers at the U.S. Department of Justice, the Motion Picture Association of America and Universal Recording. The attacks were able to cripple or stop operation of those sites temporarily. To do so, however, the hactivists had to resort to unusual tactics.


Through Twitter and the group’s chat rooms, it spread a booby-trapped URL. Clicking on the Web address involuntarily turned the clicker into one of the Anonymous attacking hordes.


Now Anonymous is threatening to bring down Facebook this weekend in the same manner. They’re even asking for end users help with this “project” and suddenly we’re seeing videos supposedly from Anonymous (no one has verified that these videos can actually be attributed to the group – after all, they are Anonymous) but it’s interesting to see and listen to all the chatter.


Here’s a link to the video supposedly attributed to the hacker organization – to be fair, the group has tweeted publically that this video is a fraud. Boy… just who can you trust these days?!


What’s your stand on this – should pirate sites like Megaupload and other torrent sites be allowed to store and share pirated and copyrighted movies and music for anyone to download for free? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this…

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