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France's official P2P monitoring firm hacked

Hadopi suspends service after leak

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The French government has temporarily suspended its reliance on the company designated to monitor file-sharing networks for copyright scofflaws following reports that a hack on its servers may have leaked sensitive information.

Eric Walter, France's secretary general of internet piracy, made the announcement over Twitter on Tuesday, saying that Hadopi, short for the High Authority for the dissemination of works and the protection of rights, was taking control of Trident Media Guard “following the leak of IP addresses.”

TMG monitors peer-to-peer networks under France's three-strikes anti-piracy law. Under the program, illegal file-sharers receive three warnings and are then reported to a judge, who is authorized to mete out a variety of punishments, including disconnecting a person's internet connection. UK lawmakers have mulled a similar monitoring system, although it currently doesn't carry the threat of disconnection.

The TMG data leak was discovered by security researcher Olivier Laurelli, aka Bluetouff, and first reported on the French blog Reflets.info (Bing translation here).

It remains unclear just how serious the leak from TMG was. As a government-sanctioned collector of IP addresses trading music, pictures and other media over file-sharing networks, it could possess a wealth of sensitive information about French citizens. But according to news reports published on Tuesday (Google translation here) TMG has said “no personal data was disclosed” and that the hacked machine was a test server.”

Over the weekend, TorrentFreak reported that the TMG server leaked scripts, p2p clients to generate fake peers and internal IP addresses used in its datacenter. An update on Tuesday said that “as the contents of the leak were examined in more detail, it became evident that TMG had not only leaked out its own data, but that belonging to the subjects of their monitoring.”

The so-far unproven allegations that TMG leaked sensitive information are vaguely reminiscent of the hack on anti-piracy law firm ACS:Law of the UK, which resulted in fines being levied against the firm's principal for leaking “sensitive personal details relating to thousands.” ®

This article was updated to add details about discovery by Olivier Laurelli.

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