From the previous weeks, we witnessed a sudden disappearance of a couple of thousands of reverse proxies which were providing access to blocked torrent sites, such as ThePirateBay and KickassTorrents and many other.
Consequently, some rumors have emerged and the main discussion revolves around the reason for taking down the proxy sites. It is speculated that it happened due to the legal issues as a direct result of pressure by copyright holders, and the effort of the law enforcement agencies to stamp out the widely spread piracy.
So far, neither side has released any official statements regarding the recent events.
The fact that all the missing proxies were linked to ProxyHouse and ProxyAds, which were basically two branches of the same proxy company, is quite symptomatic. According to correspondence between ProxyHouse and TorrentFreak, the number of missing proxy sites could well exceed 17,000: “At the moment, we are running over 17,000 proxy sites for KickassTorrents, ThePirateBay, YTS, ExtraTorrent and 1337x. By providing a lot of different domains, we are giving people the option to still access torrent sites.”
As many of you may know, a couple of years ago, the leading torrent sites were banned in many countries by the court orders and at the request of music, movie and publishing industries. They are no longer accessible in UK, Italy, Denmark and France. All ISPs were obligated to block connections to torrent sites; however, users always find a way to bypass everything, this blockade included.
One such way is to use reverse proxy sites. They simply mirror torrent sites under some other domain not blocked by ISPs. These proxy websites had granted the access to torrents years before they mysteriously disappeared a few days ago. Now, instead of allowing the access to torrent, their domain names are listed for sale!
Many ISPs were criticized at the time for their lack of competence in preventing the illegal downloading of torrents and the usage of proxy sites. In its defense, Internet Service Provider Virgin Media issued a statement at the time of the UK’s High Court Ruling in 2012, saying: “As a responsible ISP, Virgin Media complies with court orders addressed to the company but strongly believes that changing consumer behavior to tackle copyright infringement also needs compelling legal alternatives.”
Although proxy sites have been useful to many users unable to afford to purchase copyrighted material, they can also be a threat to users, especially due to fact that many proxy sites, ProxyHouse included, feature various advertisements on their sites. These were recently linked to malware that infected computers of thousands of users.
It is a well-known (and a pretty annoying) fact that many proxy websites add their own scripts to their sites. These are not harmful by default, but a great number of them serve “questionable content.”
Gabor Szathmari, a security researcher, determined that 99% of 6,158 proxy sites add their own scripts. This may not sound like a big deal; but the fact that only 21 of the examined 6K proxy sites did not modify the original site – makes it a huge deal and something to seriously worry about, especially now that phishing has become one of the most popular ways to spy and even steal people’s personal and confidential information.
Although 17,000 proxy sites are currently shut down, there are plenty of others available to do the job. And many of the torrent site operators are in fact glad to see the end of them – after all, they blame unauthorized proxy sites, like ProxyHouse and ProxyAds, for “stealing” their business and revenue.
Yet, this is not the end of the story – while the “who” and the “why” for the recent disappearance of thousands of proxy sites are still unknown; as it always happens, an opposite view has started circulating on the internet. According to this alternative view, it is possible that ProxyHouse and ProxyAds were not taken down by the LE nor by hackers; it is speculated that the owners themselves are in fact responsible for this strange sudden disappearance.
The main argument in favor of this speculation is the fact that both domains are now listed for sale, as well as other proxy websites used for downloading the copyrighted material – music, movies, books, software, etc. Proxy sites that were taken down are, among others, piratelist.net an overview site, as well as kickasstorrents.nu, yify.me, extratorrent.ch, 1337x.link, piratebay.onl
Meanwhile, the prices range up to €500, although the majority of these proxies are estimated way lower than that – they’re available for as little as €10.
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