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Morpheus fesses up to user lockout security breach

Exchanges insults with former ally KaZaA.com

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Morpheus has re-instated its file swapping service after ditching support for the P2P stack supplied by developer FastTrack and embracing the Gnutella protocol.

Last week, users unexpectedly found themselves locked out of the MusicCity Morpheus network. The organisation blamed incompatibilities between Morpheus and a fresh release of software provided by FastTrack software, the KaZaA Media Desktop v1.5.

This was not the entire story:

In launching the Gnutella-friendly Morpheus Preview Edition, StreamCast Networks/Morpheus chief executive Steve Griffin admits its servers were hit by a massive Denial of Service attack last week.

"It appears that the attacks included an encrypted message being repeatedly sent directly to your computers that changed registry settings in your computer," a statement by Griffin to users on the accelerated availability of Morpheus Preview Edition states.

"Later, it appears our ad servers were attacked resulting in messages being sent to other sites without our knowledge, which threatened our most basic revenue model."

Postings to the BugTraq security mailing list two weeks ago documented a denial of service exploit on PCs running older versions of the FastTrack P2P stack (prior to KaZaA 1.5), which was used by KaZaA.com and Grokster as well as MusicCity's Morpheus system. Confusingly, this had nothing to do with encrypted messages and referred instead to exhausting the memory available on a client by creating multiple pop-up windows.

Neither MusicCity Morpheus nor Sharman Networks Services, the firm behind KaZaA.com, offered any comment on this pop-up Window DoS problem when we quizzed them about it last week, preferring instead to issue statements on their rift.

This tiff has escalated in recent days with MusicCity describing FastTrack-Kazaa software as a security risk (or a vector for spyware). KaZaa has hit back with a Morpheus migration tool.

Entertainment industry execs - who've been trying to shut both services through the courts - should be pleased with the latest developments. ®

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