McAfee: Piracy tripled in third quarter

Ronny Kerr · November 2, 2009 · Short URL:

In wake of Pirate Bay prosecution, file-sharing sites continue to thrive

In April, to the dismay of file-sharers the world over, a Swedish district court charged the founders of the Pirate Bay--Peter Sunde, Fredrik Neij, Gottfrid Svartholm-- and Carl Lundström,The Pirate Bay a Swedish businessman closely affiliated with the site, with promoting copyright infringement. Though the guilty verdict may have at first caused many pirates to be disgruntled and pessimistic about the future of file-sharing, they may actually have had nothing to fear at all.

According to a Threats Report released by McAfee on Monday, the number of torrent sites grew by 300% after the Pirate Bay was ordered to be closed mid-spring.

A torrent site is a Web site where users share torrent files, which do not actually contain any copyrightable material. Once a user downloads and opens a torrent file in a proper torrent client, however, the files indexed within the torrent--be they music, movies, or anything else--download to the user's system at a rate dependent on how many other users have the torrent file and have sharing turned on.

When the Pirate Bay site went down following the trial, replacement sites proliferated, filling in the need for new sites for indexing torrent files. In addition to the earnest replacements created by fans of the Pirate Bay, McAfee says a mass of malware-infested sites posing as real torrent search engines also gained immense steam, putting an even greater number of users at risk.

Of course, while McAfee might benefit from such warnings, most experienced torrent users are themselves aware of the risk involved in trying to download the latest illegally shared film or album, as malware writers commonly use such titles as masks for their malicious scripts.

Oddly enough, the Pirate Bay came back online quickly after it shut down, with the founders claiming they've sold the site to a different company. Either way, McAfee's report confirms that piracy is a bigger problem than a few popular sites can demonstrate right now.

McAfee adds other interesting statistics in its Threats Report, which finds that spam continues to be on the rise, now accounting for 92% of all email. Furthermore denial-of-service attacks have become a serious and worrisome trend, with recent attacks even including ransom requests.

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