Movie and TV Show Pirates Hid Topsite Server Inside ISP Network

This week a court has been hearing how a group of movie and TV show pirates ran a so-called 'Scene' topsite. The individuals, mainly employees of ISPs in Finland, allegedly hid their operation inside their company's networks and rerouted monitoring software so that the existence of the server wouldn't be uncovered.

While BitTorrent sites such as The Pirate Bay grab many of the world’s file-sharing headlines, there are other piracy-focused operations that fly largely under the radar.

‘Warez’ groups are made up of individuals with the shared interest of leaking the latest movies, music, TV shows, games and software onto the Internet. The collective term for these groups, their servers, and their infrastructure, is ‘The Scene’.

While most Scene members prefer to keep their sharing private and between themselves, others do not share the same philosophy. All it takes is for one ‘rogue’ member to take a release and upload it to The Pirate Bay and then the whole world gains access. This happens much of the time and makes Scene groups prime targets for law enforcement.

However, while The Pirate Bay is in the news every other week the relative obscurity of Scene groups means they rarely appear in the news. When they do it usually spells bad news – for the pirates at least.

This week four alleged operators of a Scene topsite called Hayabusa / Rainbow (HBR / RBW) are appearing before a Finnish court charged with copyright offenses. The individuals are described as IT professionals which is hardly a surprise, but perhaps of more interest is that three of them worked for a pair of Finnish Internet service providers. Their positions appear to have proven crucial to the site’s operations.

According to an investigation carried out by the police, the topsite servers of HBR / RBW were installed by employees of Saunalahti, a company owned by prominent Finnish ISP Elisa. Taking full advantage of Elisa’s position, it’s claimed that these servers were installed in Elisa’s machine room and connected to the Internet using the ISP’s super-fast fiber connection.

Then, to complete the stealth installation, it’s alleged that the defendants modified Elisa’s network monitoring software so that the IP addresses and traffic generated by the servers went unnoticed by the company.

Nevertheless, police investigations eventually led to Elisa and the company was asked to provide the identity of the people behind the server. But inside the ISP the news that the police were looking for the Hayabusa / Rainbow operators traveled fast.

After hearing of the investigation one of the defendants is said to have taken down the site and attempted to destroy evidence.

The hearing, which began on Monday, is set to conclude tomorrow.

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