Feeds

Aussie bloke hacks way to top of music charts with MIDI-based tunes

Oi, actual musos, you're doing it all wrong – security expert

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

A security engineer has successfully hacked his way to the top of the music charts in Australia with songs whose quality can only be enjoyed while on Class A drugs, apparently.

Peter Fillmore told SC Magazine that his fake artist account had gobbled up nearly one million hits before it was taken offline.

The Melbourne-based payments security expert said he wanted to test the robustness of music-streaming services such as Spotify and Pandora by seeing if they had fraud detection systems in place.

But, perhaps surprisingly, he was able to hack his way into the online music charts with relative ease. He inserted tunes such as I've only known you for five minutes and I want you dead, too and Right now, I'm very hungry! without a hitch.

Fillmore told the mag that he had managed to scoop up hundreds of thousands of plays for his pisspoor tunes in the space of just a month. It meant that, for a short time, the programmer's songs had surpassed the likes of artists such as P!nk, Nicki Minaj and Australian electronica star Flume.

Fillmore also made some cash from the experiment – roughly $1,000 in royalties – after shelling out just $30 to set the whole thing up.

Best of all, Fillmore said he had never played an instrument in his life before.

He told the magazine that he had bought three Amazon-linked compute instances — virtual servers that run applications — and created a bash script to simulate three listeners playing his songs 24 hours a day over the course of one month.

His first efforts - assembled from heaps of old MIDI files, were spotted several times by moderators at Spotify after he was shopped by the users. But then he decided to group some new tracks – sourced from public domain works using the computational power of Wolfram to generate the composition – into an album, and his success rate started to rise. All of his "hit songs" were released under the pretend moniker of John Matrix.

How was he able to crack the vault on online streaming music services without quickly arousing suspicion about fraudulent plays, you might wonder?

Fillmore told the mag that he believed that many of the services lacked automated analysis. Instead, as with so many Web2.0 properties out there, the systems rely heavily on users to report music that they suspect to be fake tunes.

A suspension notice then tells account-holders that they have breached the terms of service, thereby leaving another gaping hole for hackers to exploit, Fillmore argued.

The engineer, who carried out his test for Ruxcon, said that - after receiving suspension notices - he was unable to get responses to requests for more information about his account being frozen.

He reckoned that the lack of intervention opened up the system to abuse by potentially allowing artists to unleash DDoS attacks on rival musicians on the streaming services, which could then redirect clicks from cloud computing instances controlled by the hackers straight to a competitor's tracks on the network.

Another key thing Fillmore noted from his research was that gaming the system did not require "artists" to have any musical ability whatsoever.

"As it turns out, you're doing it wrong if you want to make money in music by being a musician," he told the SC.

It mattered even less that reviews of his music - which included an album named Kim Jong Christmas - were unfavourable, Fillmore said.

One reviewer, who was suspicious of the tunes, apparently said: "There's [sic] ain't no party like a Korean Worker's Party. But seriously, what the hell is this doing on high rotation?" While another simply suggested that Fillmore's music might be improved while "on cocaine". ®

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

More from The Register

next story
Be real, Apple: In-app goodie grab games AREN'T FREE – EU
Cupertino stands down after Euro legal threats
Download alert: Nearly ALL top 100 Android, iOS paid apps hacked
Attack of the Clones? Yeah, but much, much scarier – report
You stupid BRICK! PCs running Avast AV can't handle Windows fixes
Fix issued, fingers pointed, forums in flames
Microsoft: Your Linux Docker containers are now OURS to command
New tool lets admins wrangle Linux apps from Windows
Facebook, working on Facebook at Work, works on Facebook. At Work
You don't want your cat or drunk pics at the office
Soz, web devs: Google snatches its Wallet off the table
Killing off web service in 3 months... but app-happy bonkers are fine
First in line to order a Nexus 6? AT&T has a BRICK for you
Black Screen of Death plagues early Google-mobe batch
prev story

Whitepapers

Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
5 critical considerations for enterprise cloud backup
Key considerations when evaluating cloud backup solutions to ensure adequate protection security and availability of enterprise data.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.