Friday, July 22, 2016

The Fall of Kick Ass Torrents

Artem Vaulin, founder of Kick Ass Torrent (KAT), the most popular torrent site after pirate bay has been caught by the authorities. So how did this happen? Like any other business, KAT needs to make money in order for it to be up all the time. Finding Artem Vaulin is similar to how police bust people who sells drugs simply by posing themselves as prospect buyer then bust them up right on the spot except that doing business with KAT is done virtually so it is difficult to see who you are dealing with and where they are located.

For KAT to make money, they chose to sell Ad spaces since it is the most effective way considering that the website has 50 million users visiting the site on a monthly basis. One of the informant (who called himself as Mr. White to hide his identity) posed as a prospect Ad buyer and continued buying Ads. He was instructed to deposit an amount of money to a bank in Latvia and later on from another bank in Estonia. Artem Vaulin did not consider the fact that these countries are part of the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT). The treaty states that countries who signed agrees to exchange information in an effort to enforce public laws or criminal laws. The treaty allowed the informant to gain information about the owner of the bank account whom he deposited money. I guess this is where they got to know the details of the founder such as his name, address, email and so on. Unfortunately, even if they have his personal details the authorities have no idea where he is hiding. His email address however is registered to Apple's iTunes and Facebook. One day, the email made a transaction with Apple's iTunes and login attempts with Facebook and that is where they were able to trace and crossed reference an IP Address pointing the location of Artem Vaulin (Yes, Apple and Facebook are mandated to work with the government and give them information accounts on watch list).

I guess Artem Vaulin did not consider using virtual private networks (VPN) whenever he performs transactions with iTunes and Facebook to cover up his tracks online. Maybe he did not bother using VPN because he thought authorities will not find his personal information anyway. If he have chosen a bank on a country that is not part of the MLAT treaty, then his personal information could have probably been protected.