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To continue reading this article, please exit incognito mode or log in. Visitors are allowed 3 free articles per month without a subscription , and private browsing prevents us from counting how many stories you've read. We hope you understand, and consider subscribing for unlimited online access. A new technique has been developed for detecting and tracking illegal content transferred using the BitTorrent file-trading protocol.
According to its creators, the approach can monitor networks without interrupting the flow of data and provides investigators with hard evidence of illicit file transfers. Contraband files might include pirated movies, music, or software, and even child pornography.
When the tool detects such a file, it keeps a record of the network addresses involved for later analysis, says Major Karl Schrader, who led the work at the Air Force Institute of Technology , in Kettering, OH.
The use of peer-to-peer P2P software and of the BitTorrent protocol in particular have increased steadily over recent years. However, this approach reveals nothing about the contents of each transfer, says Schrader.
A handful of network-monitoring tools can identify specific BitTorrent files, but the process is generally slow, since the contents of each file have to be examined. The time that this takes also increases exponentially as the number of files that need to be scanned grows. If a hash matches any stored in a database of prohibited hashes, then the system will make a record of the transfer and store the network addresses involved.
More generalized solutions that try to monitor for a wide range of file types may be more flexible, he says, but they will also be more expensive.
One reason why the new technique is so fast is that the apparatus required consists of a specially configured field programmable gate array FPGA chip and a flash-memory card that stores a log of the illicit activity.
Ross Anderson , a computer-security expert at the University of Cambridge, U. Similarly, an Australian firm called Brilliant Digital Entertainment sells a tool called CopyRouter that analyzes hashes to identify illegal files on other kinds of P2P networks.
Schulze adds that the approach relies on having an up-to-date list of illegal files. From a legal standpoint, Schulze says that privacy may be a more significant problem. Even if the legal framework were to allow the technology, it is not quite ready to go. Tests of the system, details of which will be published later this year in a book called Advances in Digital Forensics V , showed that it was effective at detecting 99 percent of illicit files, but only at speeds of megabits per second.
Another drawback is that the system cannot cope with encrypted files. If such a tool became widely used, then anyone with something to hide would almost certainly switch to using encryption, he says. AI startup Gamalon developed a clever new way for chatbots and virtual assistants to converse with us. Content creation is hugely expensive for video-game makers.
A way to automate some of the process would be hugely valuable, and this could be it. Experts suggest that having AI systems try to outwit one another could help a person judge their intentions.
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Learn more and register. Addressing Bias in AI How uncertainty could help a machine hold a more eloquent conversation. AI generates new Doom levels for humans to play. How can we be sure AI will behave? Perhaps by watching it argue with itself.
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