MediaDefender DoS attack on Revision3: Stop screwing with new media

Revision3 logoEarlier today, I saw Jim Louderback, CEO at Revision3, tweeting that there had been an outage at Rev3 this weekend and he could now shed light on the issue. Honestly, I hadn’t noticed the downtime. I’ve got Diggnation, The Totally Rad Show and Web Drifter being drip-fed into my iPhone (via iTunes sync) and watch the shows when I’m on the train/tube looking for something to do. I’ve also got a total school-girl crush on Alex Albrecht, which makes the show all too easy to watch, but I digress…

I expected the downtime to be Twitteresque in its incapacity to deal with our adulation and traffic. However, Jim’s story shows the issue they faced this weekend was a whole more serious.

In a nutshell, Revision3 exploits the fantastic peer-to-peer system that is BitTorrent to distribute its shows. Rev3 hosts the tracker, but doesn’t have to take the weight of every single download. It makes technical sense – the Rev3 crowd are technologically up to date and love BitTorrent. It makes business sense – Jim doesn’t have to put quite so much of his revenue towards more servers just to cope with the peaks of traffic, he can count on the distributed network. And it fits right in with the attitude of the Rev3 shows, irreverently addicted and up to date to the latest technology.

Jim writes… “But someone, or some company, apparently took offense to Revision3 using Bittorrent to distribute its own slate of shows. Who could that be?

Along with where it’s bound, every internet packet has a return address. Often, particularly in cases like this, it’s forged – or spoofed. But interestingly enough, whoever was sending these SYN packets wasn’t shy. Far from it: it’s as if they wanted us to know who they were.

A bit of address translation, and we’d discovered our nemesis. But instead of some shadowy underground criminal syndicate, the packets were coming from right in our home state of California. In fact, we traced the vast majority of those packets to a public company called Artistdirect (ARTD.OB). Once we were able to get their internet provider on the line, they verified that yes, indeed, that internet address belonged to a subsidiary of Artist Direct, called MediaDefender.”

MediaDefender was the one hitting Revision3 servers with a Denial of Service attack. (Read Jim’s post for details on who MediaDefender is and what denial of service attacks are. I’ll skim over that bit.)

According to my eye witnesses, MediaDefender received a less-than-warm reception at South by SouthWest when Randy Saaf, CEO at MD, took part in a panel on “How Piracy Will Safe the Music Industry”, where the legitimacy of such a service was questioned by the audience and fellow panelists.

Revision3 is out there, showing off BitTorrent in a good light, using it for legal and completely legitimate purposes, and in comes MediaDefender, like a bull in a china shop, crushing their servers. It’s naive on Revision3’s part to fail to keep a closer eye on their trackers and letting MediaDefender inject their torrents unauthorised for such a long time, but it doesn’t justify MD’s backhanded and disgusting behaviour.

Jim chose his words carefully and expressed the issue very clearly – For this, I’m very grateful, as it exposes MD as a total fraud blindly attacking legal and illegal services.

It’s hard enough being at the cutting edge of any technology without needing twisted organisations like the RIAA, MPAA and Sony hiring online hitmen to destroy perfectly legitimate of technology! I’m not personally a very active BitTorrent user these days, but I’m livid about this.

I hope that Jim, the Revision3 crew and all other technophiles making legitimate use of geekery like BitTorrent see this as a rallying call and an opportunity to educate people. There’s too much good technology out there to let old technophobes in their ivory towers dictate where we can go with it.

Diggnation 118 live in London – The bits you didn't see

As you’ve probably figured out by now, I really like Diggnation, enjoyed Wednesday’s live show like no live event I’ve been to before, and am thrilled to have met the guys there.

I took my video camera to the show and it was such a good move. The show does not start when the cameras start rolling. Alex and Kevin are naturally completely whacky, especially when drunk, so the moment they roll in, the madness begins.

So here are the 10-15 minutes before the show, including the marriage proposal to Alex, some pre-show checks and opening their new shiny Diggnation mugs.

The video job is pretty bad, no need to tell me, but hey, I didn’t want Glenn to feel his job was at risk. Or that’s my excuse anyways! 😉

[Don’t forget to Digg it! …How full-circle-meta…]

Diggnation 118 Live In London – The Bits You Didn’t See

FOWA: Some evening fun with Diggnation

After a number of interesting panels in the day, it was time for beers and Diggnation.

Think of being 10 years old and looking up to your biggest, most favourite music star. Now imagine the excitement if you were told you’d get to meet them. That’s how I felt yesterday.

Vero & Alex @ Diggnation live in London

I filmed a good part of the live Diggnation show (which I’ll put online tonight), but then the guys bravely took on the mobs of 16 year olds and joined the Carsonified party at the Excel pub. Once the crowds went home, only a few people were left. But surprise, while Kevin buggered off to the hotel, Alex and the Totally Rad Show guys stayed for some drinks! Having a chat with them, they’re just as lovely as I’d hoped.

If this kind of event and show format is the future of TV, I’m going to feel right at home.

Apple TV, Diggnation and chicken stories

A few weeks ago, we bought an Apple TV. For those who aren’t familiar with it but have used a recent Mac, just picture it as Front Row on steroids. And on your TV.

Apple TV

The first logical thing to do was to put as much music as possible on its weighty 160GB hard drive, so that we could listen to it without worrying about having a laptop nearby to control the music being piped out by an Airport Express into the lounge stereo. While that was good, it became about 10 times better once we added our own pictures instead of the handful of default flower pictures Apple sticks on the Apple TV!

Every time we listen to music in the lounge now, we’re treated to a medley of pictures going back as far as ten years. “Who on earth is that?” “Was my hair seriously that bad?” “Wow, she was drunk at that wedding…” It’s a laugh really. As long as there are no cheeky snapshots of me in only my underwear, post-sunburn on holiday, trying to take a tank top off while causing myself the least amount of pain possible. *grumbles*

But in the past few days, we’ve discovered a whole new side to the Apple TV. Video podcasts. I’m not new to podcasts at all, or videocasts. But watching them on a normal tv instead of the corner of your computer while you’re working brings them to life.

My video podcast diet recently has mostly consisted of:

  • Diggnation episodes: The format is two guys sitting on a sofa (Kevin Rose and Alex Albrecht), some beers, two laptops, a bunch of ranty stories. Somehow, it should suck. Yet, it’s oddly entertaining.
  • Some Ctrl+Alt+Chicken which can be described as non-cooks cooking, drinking and generally risking food poisoning. Or more succintly, as something resembling a TV trainwreck. But I still like it.
  • Some surreal TikiBar TV: Still can’t figure out who’s making money and how out of this show. It’s plain weird.
  • All topped off with a few eps of the Merlin Show which hasn’t had me as riveted to the TV as I had hoped. I’ll give it another chance though.

You can download any of these via iTunes. And you can feel free to recommend any of your own favourite video, or audio-only, podcasts!