Anatomy of a Hacker Con Media Leak

Last week, videos from Black Hat USA 2012 hit the internet. Three days later, videos from Def Con 20 made their electronic debut. Only problem is, these videos were not meant to be distributed online.

Black Hat and Def Con conference videos for any given year usually retail about $400 USD for a set of DVDs. The DVD’s are relatively basic and consist of MOV files and a few PDFs to constitute a program. While Def Con videos are generally put up online for free a few months after the con, Black Hat videos don’t make such an appearance. Ever.

So here I was, perusing the internet for videos from these conferences on Youtube, when I noticed some new directories pop up on a familiar site: Good.net. I have few moral conflicts about sharing where to get this “pirated” content since the site in question will be shutting down tomorrow. For the unacquainted, Good.net is a strange hosting company which currently hosts darkoz’s “BlackHat/DefCon” mirror after it took up too much space on the last host (easynews for the detail-hounds). I’ve been archiving it, in parts, for almost a year. It gets updated every so often and is probably one of the single best sites for hacker media.

Anyway, these new directories for Def Con 20 and Black Hat 2012  originally came up unpopulated but slowly filled with content over the course of a few days. The Black Hat videos were mirrored and posted to Reddit where they spread and generated so much traffic the mirror went offline and Good.net removed the videos due to DMCA violation. This all took about 24 hours. After this, torrents started to pop up with the Black Hat videos where they remain primarily. More interestingly, a few days ago the videos actually went back up on Good.net as though nothing happened. The Def Con videos were pumped out in a similar manner. They popped up on Good.net and were torrented a day or two later.

Let’s talk about the videos themselves. Not the content and quality of the talks, but the actual files. This MOV format seems standard from checking out disc dumps of previous years (like so). No surprise there. However, the videos seem to have little care put into their production. From Def Con alone, I noticed only about half of the videos seemed to have correct metadata and two videos had aspect ratio issues. A handful of videos also suffered from video problems, meaning either the video camera failed, or the screen capture did. Further, the file names leave something to be desired. Looking up the presentation names to go with the files or playing guess-and-check is annoying, but tolerable for freed videos.

I’m not the only one who got in on the idea of downloading all the videos. If you do just a little bit of looking, you can see where people made download lists to feed into wget (here and here) and even a handy looking renaming script.

So where did the videos come from? It’s no stretch of the imagination to believe someone dumped their discs, and I’m sure this is the case. The archive at Good.net aggregates content from tons of active media archives and submissions (some stuff I put up actually got mirrored there). I’d wager that darkoz got the files as a donation. If he dumped the discs himself, why wouldn’t he include a program for the Def Con videos?

Though Good.net will be closing its doors, this hacker con mirror usually finds a new home.While I’ve done my best to mirror it, I cannot have foresight for any videos that might be added to it in the future, and hope the collection continues to grow. Where there are conference videos, there are people out there willing to share them, whether they be pricey or free.

Let’s see what slips through the cracks next year.

 

Modern BitTorrent Hydra

Most people are aware of GGF‘s acquisition of The Pirate Bay and the plan to turn it into a legal pay-site. The Pirate Bay, as many know, has served the BitTorrent community as a large public tracker/indexer as well as something of a project team known for relaunching Suprnova, ShareReactor, as well as original sites such as bayimg. Proving to be an old favorite, the acquisition of TPB marks a sad day in BitTorrent history. Despite this, the hydra theory comes in to play: when one head is cut off, two grow in its place. Though as of right now the TPB website remains active in something of a weakened state (the trackers are down) there are already a slew of alternatives available to the BitTorrent community.

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Besides TPB, many other tracker/indexer sites have been around for a long amount of time. For example, H33T and SUMMOTorrent (and Demonoid to an extent) offer both in-house trackers and indexes. Other indexing sites, such as Mininova or TorrentBox offer free use with 3rd-party public trackers such as  OpenTracker. Next to these public trackers are private torrent sites that usually require a user to be invited to it by another. These private trackers offer a level of safety due to their exclusivity, but are by no means completely safe from anti-piracy outfits.

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Since the acquisition of TPB was announced, many new sites have popped up to offer new outlets to BitTorrent users.

Starting off, there have been a few public trackers popping up that look promising. The first being OpenBitTorrent, which from research proves to be the trackers from TPB using a new name (so the offline time for them is questionable). A similar project using the same software, but this time spearheaded by the administrator of BTJunkie, is known as PublicBT. These two trackers are virtually identical in use and message. They are simply for the tracking of torrents with no needed registration or limitations.

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Besides these two trackers, a third entitled TheHiddenTracker should be noted for an interesting execution. TheHiddenTracker hides itself and its connections using TOR. Many torrent users know not to transfer files over TOR as it is slow and degrades service, but in this case, only the tracker is reached through TOR and file sharing happens normally. To use this tracker, one would have to either install TOR, or use a handy web service entitled tor2web that allows an internet user to access TOR addresses without downloading any additional software.

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Now that there are new trackers, there are also some practical and interesting ways to share them amongst others. First off, if one possessed any torrents utilizing the old TPB trackers, these torrents could easily be edited to reflect new trackers using TorrentEditor, which helps edit torrent files online.

One interesting way to share torrent files is through the use of a service called Hid.im which will turn a torrent file into an image. This way, torrent files can easily be shared in places like forums or social networking sites. Anywhere an image can be hosted can now host a torrent.

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Another service entitled Torrage (combinging the words Torrent and Storage) attempts to hold torrents without providing a search function. The only way torrents can be found through this website is if a user knows the info hash that the site generates for every torrent upload. Some torrent indexing sites are already utilitzing this as a way to store torrents more effectively, in a more decentralized manner.

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Last but not least, isoHunt recently launched a “social networking torrent site” by the name of Hexagon.cc. Hexagon is made up of a bunch of different, smaller groups within the whole of the website. So say thay you are a fan of Creative Commons content. You can then join the group, download torrents associated with the group, and engage in discussions. Besides the public groups, there are also private groups that can only be accessed and seen through invites. They are also apparently SSL encrypted for added protection. Even though the site is less than a week old, it already houses over 45,000 torrents and is growing every day. The site is currently only joinable through the use of invites, but expect it to open up more as it expands.

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So although TPB appears to be burning down (though some argue that the acquisition is doomed) loyal torrenters can rest assured that new services will rise from the ashes. Things such as The Hydra Project and (the now defunct) Securep2p project could come to light and revolutionize how people think about file sharing. The end of an era may be upon us, but a new chapter of BitTorrent history is being written as we speak.