Beware, pirates: McAfee plans to detect and block infringing content in the browser

Copyright holders have been fighting with every weapon in their arsenals against the threat of piracy, from making viewers sit through preachy ads on DVDs that they’ve already purchased, to sending out threatening letters to those they believe to have illegally obtained content, and even suing individuals for incredible amounts of money.

Yet despite these efforts, and many more – including lobbying for legislation, such as the controversial SOPA and PIPA proposals, to deal with the issue more forcefully – piracy continues to thrive. The multibillion dollar entertainment industries are, unsurprisingly, furious at this state of affairs.

The fight has also been taken to internet service providers (ISPs), with some success. In the UK, for example, ISPs have begun to actively block certain websites that are known to facilitate access to pirated content. But, as TorrentFreak reports, access to such sites could soon be blocked on a browser level, following a patent awarded to security specialists McAfee.

The patent is to “detect and prevent illegal consumption of content on the internet”, and aims to identify when a user is attempting to access infringing content, prevent them from accessing it, and steer them towards a legal source of the content instead.

When attempting to access a site potentially providing an illegal stream or torrent of a movie, for example, the browser would actively intercept the URL request and ‘direct it to an intermediary server for analysis’, where it would be reviewed against a database of relevant information that would inform how the access request should be handled. If any red flags are raised, the user would be presented with a warning and offered an alternative, legitimate source (such as iTunes or Netflix) from which the movie could be viewed.

In the patent, McAfee points to the technology as being a development of its existing ‘SiteAdvisor’ tool. While the company acknowledges the obvious benefits to rights-holders with regard to protecting intellectual properties, McAfee adds that there is also an important security aspect to its proposals. It states that this “concern could relate to some potential threats caused by some unauthorized distributions. For example, it is not uncommon for an unauthorized distribution of material on the Internet to include malicious material.”

McAfee has made no announcements about plans to implement the technology in practice, but it’s not hard to see how popular this would be for the entertainment industries if it were to be implemented, and how hard they'll be pushing for its deployment. It seems inevitable that the company will roll out some version of this as part of its SiteAdvisor suite, although for those wishing to continue accessing pirated content, the solution to working around this obstacle seems pretty simple: avoid McAfee products. 

Source and lower two images: Google Patents | via TorrentFreak

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Are they for real? I would never install AV first place, let alone one that claims to prevent pirated stuff to enter my PC when i can decide myself what is pirated and if i want it... Losers.

"Copyright holders have been fighting with every weapon in their arsenals against the threat of piracy"... except adjusting to how the market currently operates. Seriously, even the goddamn music industry has adapted. CATCH UP. No one is going to keep paying for premium cable channels, the idea is simply outdated. Put it out instantly, worldwide, streaming, charge a small fee, boom.

What a dumb move from Intel ( McAfee). I don't want my antivirus to work for RIAA and other cartel. I want it to protect my interest rather than trying to work as copyright police. No wonder the founder of McAfee is in such a deep ****. I use comdo antivirus and firewall and is one of the best free home antivirus product I ever used.

Hello,

Any product derived from this patent will probably be for sale to ISPs and related providers (DNS providers, network equipment manufacturers, etc.), as there's a lot more money to be made by licensing the technology to them, and not to home users, although there may be a market for home use and some other verticals--educational institutions come to mind. For example, one McAfee SiteAdvisor customer which might be interested in the new technology is Yahoo!.

Speaking as a former McAfee employee, I have had my own personal web site blacklisted by them. It had no malicious software (or any kind of software, for that matter) available for download, no controversial material (welcome page, an outdated resume, some recipes), nor did it even link to any controversial sites, just regular things like eBay, etc. In short, this was the URL reputation version of a false positive alarm by anti-malware software.

Going through McAfee's request process to re-examine my site and reclassify it proved to be completely useless--no response from McAfee at all and no change in categorization. I finally had to resort to making multiple requests to current McAfee employees through channels such as private mailing lists. I seriously doubt that the same options would be available to average consumers, though, and if your personal site was blacklisted by them you would likely be screwed as they seem to ignore requests for site reclassification.

Given this behavior, I would expect any new technologies developed by McAfee based on the SiteAdvisor technology to be fundamentally flawed, generating high degrees of false positive reports due to misclassified content.

Regards,

Aryeh Goretsky

DAOWAce said,
Who would buy, let alone pirate, McAfee?

I feel sorry for anyone who uses the software.

I agree 100% as I believe anyone who reads this will. Problem is, for every one of us there is 10,000 others who will believe it is a great idea to keep those pesky pirates - who infect our computers with virus laden mp3s and mkv files - away from our computers, and who will sign up without reservation.

Mick

Hopefully this won't be a new trend for security vendors, ESET started doing something similar recently i.e. blocking websites because they contain illegal content (cracks) even though no infected material is on the website, read over the ESET forum here http://www.wilderssecurity.com/showthread.php?t=344854
especially the response from ESET staff and closure of the thread to thwart further discussion.

Wow, really?

They had the best AV software I've ever used. I stopped using it because of a misc issue that couldn't be resolved short of uninstalling the program (and also I just didn't want to deal with AV software anymore) so I fell out of the loop with them.

There goes any future support of their company.. *sigh*

Hello,

If a site is distributing cracks to steal ESET's software, pirated copies of ESET's software, etc., ESET will contact the site operator and ask them to remove the cracks, pirated copies, or whatever else. If they don't get removed in a reasonable amount of time, those pages get blocked. The binaries used to crack the software get blocked as well by the software.

This is normal behavior for a lot of anti-malware vendors besides ESET.

If you are going to use a commercial anti-malware program, don't try to install tools to crack it, pirate it, etc.

Regards,

Aryeh Goretsky

Perfectly understandable to want to protect a product against piracy, I have nothing against that and it's not the reason why I linked the forum thread.
I simply wanted to point out what appears (at least to me) like a change in the mind set of the antivirus software makers. There seems to be a shift in the industry from protecting against real threats (which according to my own experience has historically been the case) to also attempting to "protect" users from accessing so-called illegal contents. It is true that 'cracks', patches, etc... will often contain malware, but that's not always the case.
That's just my opinion, but I believe the antivirus makers should stay true to their roots and stick to protecting only against real malware and not against types of files that 'can' often include malware. I think the risk of false positives may be too high otherwise (I've already got my share of false positives).

Hello,

Anti-malware products have detected cracks, keygens and patches for their software--and even their competitors--for over a decade; even before network I/O filtering was common in their products. And as far as detecting non-viral code, there was a lot of pushback in the tail-end of the DOS era (mid-1990s) about not detecting self-replicating malware ("Antivirus software detects viruses. A virus is a recurisvely self-replicating program. A trojan does not replicate, therefore, a trojan is not a virus and should not be detected."). A decade ago, it was adware, spyware and BHOs which were not detected. Five or six years ago, potentially unwanted software wasn't detected. As new types of exploitation have occurred, the anti-virus vendors (who are now called anti-malware vendors) have adapted and evolved their programs to detect whatever is threatening computers. They now even protect against things like social engineering (phishing emails, scams on social media, etc.) attacks even though their is no binary executable involved.

Crime occurs online in many different ways, using a variety of tools. The goal of your vendor is to protect you against all the kinds of possible threats they technologically can, regardless of vector.

One other thing to consider that I forgot to mention in my previous post: As soon as the site operator confirms that the cracks/keygens/whatever have been removed, the site gets rescanned to confirm and unblocked, usually at the next signature update. At that point, you can then go back to downloading whatever content from that site to your heart's desire.

Anti-malware companies are pretty clear when they block things, although the reasoning behind such blocks may vary on a case-by-case basis. As far as cracking containing malware, you might find the following blog post from AVG interesting: http://blogs.avg.com/news-thre...ame-hacks-infected-malware/

What it really comes down to for you, though, as a consumer, is that you get to vote on which anti-malware software you choose to use, by purchasing that software. If you don't like the way Company A's works, you can easily choose Company B's, and eventually Company A will go out of business because no one uses their products, and Company B will become huge and successful. Of course, you can also choose the route of going with a free anti-malware product, in which case you don't really get a chance to vote with your wallet, or at least, you get to deal with that vendor's monetization scheme.

Regards,

Aryeh Goretsky

In case you have forgotten, McAfee is owned by Intel - so they aren't exactly afraid of going broke. Intel, on the other hand, is very much in bed with content providers - most notably, Apple and iTunes. Therefore Intel AND their subsidiaries - including McAfee - have every reason to develop - and patent - something like this.

hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha...that's all i had to say!

LMFAO, right... even if somehow they FORCE microsoft to pre install this on every system there will always be a work around to disable it >.<. If its enabled in a web browser for example just use a browser that does not have it enabled.. WTF are they thinking seriously.. This will effect like 1% of pirates (dumb ones) tops but i guess thats 1% less pirating so a success.. pfft.

The blocking can easily be done on the OS level, without any interaction needed with a browser.
Also I'm quite sure this is more aimed at their business consumers then you and me.

Can't really see many companies taking it up TBH, having every URL someone accesses sent off to a McAfee server would be a massive security hole. Just think how many terrible intranet apps sit there passing secure data around in the url string.

Luke Baldwin said,
Dose this mean they will block users from facebook???

Why? Is Facebook hosting or providing pirated content? That's news to me.

Another useless piece of tech that pirates will be circumventing in less than 5 seconds. Firefox and Chromium are both open source so it would be hard to put it into them and nobody that knows how to pirate will install McAffee anyway.

It really makes me inclined to think that the creative industries really aren't learning their lessons. Censorship is going to make people more likely to pirate not less.

Uhm, because they are open source it would be hard to implement this into the browsers?
Not to burst your bubble, but creating such an addon is easy. And they don't even need to make an addon, they can block this stuff on OS level. Neither Firefox or Chrome comes with its own tcp/ip instruction sets.

Shadowzz said,
Uhm, because they are open source it would be hard to implement this into the browsers?
Not to burst your bubble, but creating such an addon is easy. And they don't even need to make an addon, they can block this stuff on OS level. Neither Firefox or Chrome comes with its own tcp/ip instruction sets.

No, because they are open source it would be easy to figure out how they are doing it and either fork the code or develop an extension to bypass it.

So basically, anyone who is pirating anything for the most part will be computer literate and just uninstall the software the first time it blocks them from a website right?

Why do they think this will work again? It's not like it's built into the browser or OS and is a completely optional piece of software or anything.

All this will do is discourage people who don't understand computers and have bought the McAfee suite to go the legal route. It won't change much for people actively pirating already.

My thoughts exactly. That may be exactly what they're after initially. "Casual" pirates, the idol watching morons that can't figure anything out and are discouraged after a single failure anywhere are a larger number that people realize. Clever cash in if it doesn't attract a universal hatred for McAfee instead.

-T- said,
And with this move McAfee makes themselves go out of business

They were headed that way anyway. Their product is (and has been) so weak that its damn near useless if it weren't for the fact that so many computer OEM's preinstall it with new computers. The poor sap that doesn't know any better uses it for 60 days for free then whips out his credit card and signs up when the trial expires since he doesn't know any better and figures, "Hey they must be pretty good for Dell/Lenovo/Acer/etc to install it on their new computers" not realizing the *actual* reason that crap was preinstalled was to make money for said OEM, not because its a superior product.

McAfee consumer is a POS, but their business products are solid as a rock though. And this is where most of their business lay, so I don't see them going out of business very soon.

I can see why, piracy is big business, £20+ for a cinema ticket???
I can see the logic in the piracy, spending that amount of money, not enjoying the movie, you can't ask for your money back...

Back on topic, I agree with FFM.

Glad to see music has actually come down in price where I live, so my CD collection grew quite rapidly, I hate paying for Amazon Music, purely because when I burn that to a disk, it never sounds as good as a retail copy. (With my stereo, yes, you can tell the difference)

Dushmany said,
I can see why, piracy is big business, £20+ for a cinema ticket???

Where did you get that? That's excessive. We only pay about £5, and £8 if it's in 3D.

a ticket for cinema in the city where I live is actually about 10 - 15€, which is quite expensive, so I actually understand why people download movies illegally.

Dushmany said,
I can see why, piracy is big business, £20+ for a cinema ticket???
I can see the logic in the piracy, spending that amount of money, not enjoying the movie, you can't ask for your money back...

Back on topic, I agree with FFM.

Glad to see music has actually come down in price where I live, so my CD collection grew quite rapidly, I hate paying for Amazon Music, purely because when I burn that to a disk, it never sounds as good as a retail copy. (With my stereo, yes, you can tell the difference)


Im not sure what format amazon sells music in but if its a 320kbps MP3, you can't hear the difference. Try a blind listening test one day.

sorry, forgot to clarify...
once burned to a disk, (so technically I suppose an argument could be made about my burner, but I've tried it on different burners, on different computers, always sounds 'flatter' than the same song on a retail cd.

papalakaka said,
a ticket for cinema in the city where I live is actually about 10 - 15€, which is quite expensive, so I actually understand why people download movies illegally.

Thats the ticket, not allowed to take your own food and drinks, add up another 10-15E per person for this. And a trip to the movies easily lightens your wallet by 30-40bucks.

M4x1mus said,

Im not sure what format amazon sells music in but if its a 320kbps MP3, you can't hear the difference. Try a blind listening test one day.

MP3 will always sound worse then straight of an Audio CD or better yet, a vinyl record.
No matter how much kbps you throw at it.

Shadowzz said,

Thats the ticket, not allowed to take your own food and drinks, add up another 10-15E per person for this. And a trip to the movies easily lightens your wallet by 30-40bucks.


MP3 will always sound worse then straight of an Audio CD or better yet, a vinyl record.
No matter how much kbps you throw at it.


I know that sound information is lost through compression but that doesn't mean a human can tell the difference. Try it with a few songs and you'll see what I'm talking about. I have a very nice sound system and I can't and neither can any of my audiophile friends. Everyone tries to argue that they can but I've yet to meet someone who can identify which one is the CD if they're both being played on the same computer.

M4x1mus said,

I know that sound information is lost through compression but that doesn't mean a human can tell the difference. Try it with a few songs and you'll see what I'm talking about. I have a very nice sound system and I can't and neither can any of my audiophile friends. Everyone tries to argue that they can but I've yet to meet someone who can identify which one is the CD if they're both being played on the same computer.

I know you don't believe me, that's fine, I've had this arguement with many people, I have no intention to try and prove otherwise as without physically meeting and running the test, it will just be another arguement, and if I did prove I can hear the difference, you could argue it was simply luck. But for what it's worth, yes Amazon files are generally 320's some have forced gain, others don't and I can tell the difference.

My sincerest apologies to everyone else for being off topic

What a pointless tool. Pirates won't install this in the first place, so it's not going to affect them in the slightest. The only people that would install this are tech savvy parents trying to stop their kids pirating; and companies.

McAfee could for example persuade Microsoft to license this 'blocklist' for future windows users.

In near future all internet connection from Microsoft OS will be checked with such centralized blocklist.

Torolol said,
McAfee could for example persuade Microsoft to license this 'blocklist' for future windows users.

In near future all internet connection from Microsoft OS will be checked with such centralized blocklist.

Microsoft do not own the internet, nor the OS market. If they DID do such a thing, the pirates will just jump over to Linux.

Torolol said,
In near future all internet connection from Microsoft OS will be checked with such centralized blocklist.

Why would Microsoft pay fir this? even if it was free, people would just uninstall MSE/defender or whatever its called.

Would have exactly the opposite effect to that intended.

There would also be a program out in milliseconds to "fix" you computer for you, no knowledge of anything required.

actually. lets say this thing comes preinstalled on computers, or people just install along with the antivirus. if it prevents people from visiting those pages, that's one fewer impression of those annoying ads that are plastered everywhere. in the end, someone IS losing something

Julius Caro said,
actually. lets say this thing comes preinstalled on computers, or people just install along with the antivirus. if it prevents people from visiting those pages, that's one fewer impression of those annoying ads that are plastered everywhere. in the end, someone IS losing something

It's not only that, but it's also business companies who want to enforce a piracy free policy on their network.

indeed, no pirate uses an antivirus. just a virtual machine, manual detection/disinfection hasn't failed me yet. all infections use the same method, so there's no real need to have an 10GB program scan a 400kb file xD

Izlude said,
indeed, no pirate uses an antivirus. just a virtual machine, manual detection/disinfection hasn't failed me yet. all infections use the same method, so there's no real need to have an 10GB program scan a 400kb file xD

A virtual machine is a bit excessive. Just use a sandbox.

Torolol said,
if you read carefully McAfee patent-ing a blocklist system:

http://www.techspot.com/news/5...nts-anti-piracy-filter.html


so, any companies that using centralized blocklist must also paying royalties/license fee to McAfee or desist using such blocklist.

Sweet.


Seems unlikely to me considering WebTrends has been doing this for decades meaning there's a good chance the idea is already patented and/or is proposed in a way that it won't affect companies doing the same thing already. Then again our patent system is so f'd up that there's no way to be certain.

Also known as McCrappy...

Seriously though, how will this even be effective? Why would anybody who pirates voluntarily keep this installed?

LOL, what a pathetic attempt to stop pirates. Someone in their office is smoking too much crack... this is laughable.
I am sure pirates will release cracked version of mcaffe that will download pirated software itself just to **** them off.