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Volunteer Pirate Crew Gives Mega Its Own Search Engine

Volunteer Pirate Crew Gives Mega Its Own Search Engine

Today in international tech news: File-sharers ramp up pirating capacity with a Mega-specific search engine; New Zealand's "Skynet" law lands its first formal piracy charges; Chinese hackers take aim at The New York Times, and British soldiers conduct a virtual battle in France.

A user-created search engine now makes it easy to scour the new, controversial file-sharing site Mega, according to Wired.

Unveiled two weeks ago by Kim Dotcom, a German national living in New Zealand and wanted on a slew of charges in the U.S., Mega initially did not have a search function to scour its own content.

The new search engine was built by users voluntarily providing links to files. It is hosted by an anonymous domain and, in the words of Wired, "makes for a full-blown piracy site," much in the same vein as Megaupload.

Dotcom, who faces an extradition hearing in August, said Mega had more than 1 million users after a week.

In a related story, New Zealand doled out its first penalty to an Internet user accused of illegally downloading and sharing music, Torrent Freak reported.

The woman accused in the case was sent a trio of notices, constituting three strikes and exposing her to New Zealand's Copyright Tribunal, which was tasked with determining damages. The Tribunal ultimately charged the woman for the original price of the downloaded content (a total of about US$3.50); a fee for uploading the songs (determined to be $5.49); another fee for the cost of sending the warning notices ($42.00); the Tribunal application fee ($167); and a "deterrent sum" of about $100 per song. The total she was ultimately ordered to pay: $515.64.

Chinese Hackers Target The New York Times

China appears to be taking its disdain for Western media to new heights.

For the past four months, hackers have persistently attacked The New York Times, "infiltrating computer systems" and stealing passwords from staff and reporters, the Times reported Thursday.

The hack was apparently prompted by the Times' decision in June to launch a Chinese-language version of its website.

The site was blocked in October after the newspaper ran an article detailing the fortune amassed by prime minister Wen Jiabao's relatives.

News of that block spread immediately. Another unreported story began unfolding at the same time: Chinese hackers began going to town on New York Times computers.

The hackers broke into email accounts belonging to David Barboza, the Times' Shanghai bureau chief who wrote the report on Wen's family, and Jim Yardley, the Times' South Asia bureau chief who used to be stationed in Beijing.

The Times reportedly tracked the hackers to "study their movements" and build defenses. The methods employed by the hackers matched those associated with the Chinese military, according to the Times.

The hackers tried to hide their whereabouts by penetrating computers at U.S. universities and then routing the attacks through those machines. The hackers also installed malware that granted them access to any computer in the Times' network.

After asking China's Ministry of National Defense about the attacks, the Times was told that Chinese law prohibits hacking, and that accusing the Chinese military of such attacks "without solid proof was unprofessional and baseless."

The Times says that the attacks on their system were part of a broader campaign against U.S. media that haven't been kind to China.

UK Conducts Largest-Ever Virtual Battle

British soldiers took to their computers to carry out the army's largest-ever virtual battle simulation, according to the BBC.

The cyberconflict took place in a fictional French town and lasted two hours. The army said that the simulation will help it pinpoint areas in need of additional investment.

The virtual conflict project, "Urban Warrior 5," utilizes VBS2 software, which is also found in commercial video games.


David Vranicar is a freelance journalist and author of The Lost Graduation: Stepping off campus and into a crisis. You can check out his ECT News archive here, and you can email him at david[dot]vranicar[at]newsroom[dot]ectnews[dot]com.


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