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Students beware of cGrid

Written by Dave Horvath @ 12 Mar 2007 7:13 User comments (22)

Students beware of cGrid There's a new beast in the war pit against internet piracy, and it's name is cGrid. Developed by a group called Red Lambda, cGrid is set to be a very real threat to P2P file sharers everywhere. Although still in its infant stage and with its sights focused on Universities, its a technology that should have many P2P people a bit wary.
cGrid is a proprietary technology that has a unique way of monitoring packet level transmissions and decided whether or not packets being sent back and forth from specific MAC addresses on a network are participating in things like bit torrent, FTP, Usenet and other venues commonly known for illegal activities. That's not all though, it can also instantly boot said offender from the network with little to no workaround for getting back on. This new technology obviously has groups such as the RIAA and MPAA rejoicing as the newest wonder tool to hit the market.

cGrid's developers describe the technology as, "the industry's most advanced P2P and file-sharing mitigation technology. It uses undisclosed techniques to monitor and record traffic at the packet-level and also uses proprietary behavioral analysis to determine whether individual users are participating in illegal file sharing. It monitors local networks and keeps historical logs on users according to their MAC addresses. In this way, cGrid can also monitor private file sharing such as that done with invitation-only FTP servers and other normally closed networks."

The monitoring tool is currently targetted at the industries largest known offenders, American Universities, where illegal downloads are known to be rampant and prohibition of such activities are often too lax on the part of the University Administrators. The University of Florida, the place where cGrid was initially developed, has been monitoring student dorms since 2003 with some success. Reports from the administrators there state that warnings issued to students suspected in illegal downloads have been enough to disuade repeat offenders. They stated that of the students caught in the act, only 10% of those students were caught again.

Red Lambda and the RIAA would both rejoice if they were able to pursuade Congress to mandate cGrid to be used in all Universities, however with the stiff cost of both installation and yearly maintanence ($1,000,000 and $250,000 respectively) may keep their dreams from coming to fruition.

The executive vice president of the Association of American Universities, John Vaughn stated that the cost of implimenting such a system is prohibitively expensive and there are also concerns on infringing on student's privacy who may be otherwise using their creativity to develop the next cutting-edge technology.

ARS Technica

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22 user comments

112.3.2007 07:20

stiff cost of both installation and yearly maintanence ($1,000,000 and $250,000)
Yeah, waste the money of the society to catch someone who want to just share their stuff ?

... freaking RIAA-mob...

How about if we go to these Red Lambdas main office and beat them with a baseball bats, right fellas ?

212.3.2007 08:07

Frankie and Mr. Fish are willing to do what it takes for the family.

312.3.2007 08:08

although this app does sound a bit frightning, they will ultimately lose the battle. As soon as this baby rolls out, hackers will easily devise a way to disguise your address from it.

Plus, the maintenance fees are a bit steep, but honestly that is pocket change for the RIAA... we all know how rich they are from screwing every artist they employed.

A bunch of idiots, why don't they spend the money and airlift some food and medical supplies to Africa?

412.3.2007 08:12

Hang on, they expect a university to spend $1million to help protect RIAA assets?

That's like me asking you to buy new lock for my house! WTF?

512.3.2007 08:58

enemy in disguise

612.3.2007 09:19

What's so ridiculous about asking someone else to buy a lock for your house? Geez... I'd gladly buy locks for my neighbor's place-So long as I keep a key, heheheheh.

712.3.2007 10:22

Well hello there Big Brother.

812.3.2007 10:49

Why are they always called, "Big Brother". Why not "Big Sister". Oh I forgot. I'm not being politcally correct.

912.3.2007 11:36

if congress mandates the usage they really shouldn't have to pay the million... maybe i'll get congress to make people give me money too :D

1012.3.2007 13:36

What a freakin' waste of money. $1 million just to have it installed. That is insane! Just wait until someone comes out with a way to get around this lol. Or better yet, students get teachers or something else important banned from the network by spoofing their MAC address with an important computers.

If done right it would boot the real computer off the network and wouldn't allow it back on as the "cGrid" would ban that MAC address.

1112.3.2007 13:38

shoundnt a IP blocker keep cGrid out?

1212.3.2007 14:03

IP blockers generally block IPs not MAC (hence the name). There are seperate programs that can hide your MAC address. This is important since MAC addresses are unique to each NIC (or however you connect). If they just tracked IPs there wouldn't really be a threat.

1312.3.2007 14:25

ok can you recamend a mac hider program?

1412.3.2007 14:43

ok but if your sharing a file that you created like an unreal tournament level which is perfectly leagle then if they track you then how will it know what files your transfering? if I send you a file and its mine and then they come after me and they cant find one that fits then they'll just say I deleted the evadence and whos the courts going to believe me (a gamer in a tyedye tea shirt) or the guy in a 2000.00 suit. see if they cant catch the file then they shouldnt be allowed to make adsumptions of whats being transfered........and if they(RIAA and such) wanted to stop it(downloading) they would step up and pay the tab for the install and updates for this program see thats called mittagating damages... something thats not been done by any of them....

1512.3.2007 16:47

I agree with mystic, but I have on question. Can't they track what we're sharing? I heard that when the RIAA busts people, they charge on a per-song basis. e.g.: $1.00 per song downloaded illegally.

1612.3.2007 16:47

I'm betting this will get shot down before it ever gets installed. This packet sniffing solution is a blatant invasion of privacy. What about online banking, or ANY purchase you make over the internet. That private financial information will also be obtained by this. Even if it does get implemented, The first user that sues them will put an end to them.

just my 2 cents :)

1712.3.2007 17:55

Originally posted by mlsgiant:
Why are they always called, "Big Brother". Why not "Big Sister". Oh I forgot. I'm not being politcally correct.
Ever read 1984? Big brother was the symbol of a group controlling the government and closely monitered every one.

1813.3.2007 03:55

Originally posted by richks:
Hang on, they expect a university to spend $1million to help protect RIAA assets?

That's like me asking you to buy new lock for my house! WTF?

exactly. The reason university prohibition is lax is because they don't have that big of an interest in stopping it. WTF should they care? RIAA hasn't sued a whole university yet, and they won't.

1913.3.2007 04:30

to bamboozle a gadget like this, simply cut the file in pieces, add silences in odd places, zip it up, password protect and include password, and send it off.

or incorporate sneakernets w buds with cable connections unwatched by the dogs. (sneakernets can be tiny flash hard drives through the mail stuffed with files downloaded or ripped from cd or dvd's!

Keep us up to date on the sneaky bastards, cuz our privacy don't mean a rat's ass to 'em.

2013.3.2007 07:23

everyone stop freaking out this things is some nerds chance to make it rich off of big companies with big pockets looking for the excalliber to slay p2p, this definatly aint it. this is more like a really fuckig expensive butter knife.

explaination: ok it costs mad money, so only super rich huge state univeristies will have them. lots of schools will pass on it anyway because schools WANT piracy, kids seriously consider a schools p2p polocies when they decide where to go. schools are also exempt from certain types of lawsuits, espepcialy if they are state schools. most schools have gotten the right defence against the miaa already in place: let the kiddies have their mps's and avi's and if the corporation nazis come-a-knocking you just hand over all the kids who were uploading, THE ONLY THING THATS AGAINST THE LAW ANYWAY!!!!!! also some big big schools operate their own ISPs and most defend IP sopeonas at that level, wich is much easier. the bigger a school is that operates its own ISP, the less chance youll ever get in trouble for uploading.

so we have established that no school is going purchase this thing and if they do they will see a decline in enrolment, simple. the only schools that will wan tthis are one that already have an anti p2p stance (the ones that got bit by the MPAA and didnt know how to properly fight back, probably a mid sized school with money but not enough money to defend lots of little lawsuits). and if you go to one of those schools already, your an idiot.

ok now on to isps: whats isp is going to want to take on that huge expence? what isp is going to want to shut out all p2p? they wont, cause this stupid machine isnt goign to diferentiate legal p2p use from illegal. so an isp isnt goignt o want to play big brother and block EVERYTHING what is this turkey? they will loose customers.

and now finaly how to defend against this thing if you are on the unfortunate side, just use encryted bt or p2p clients. it reads packets, it doesnt decrypt packets. problem solved, its as easy as that.

what happened to that big expensive machine that came out last year that basicly did the same exact thing but was designed for ISPs to slow down or block encrypted bt traffic? oh thats right, no one ever heard about it again cause no one has a desire to slow down p2p but the MPAA and RIAA. haha!

plus this isnt goign to stop: IRC, NEWSGROUPS, RAPIDSHARE

all someone needs is an internet connection and a rapidshare search engine/link board and your good. cause as long as you get the internet youll be able to use rapidshare.

2113.3.2007 13:58

Now; I'm about half up on this sort of thing, but I will first admit that I do not fully understand what I am about to say; and that's WHY I'm asking questions. So, please don't take it as me questioning you, or trying to debase anyone's intelligence or arguments. I understand a LOT of the legalities of this stuff; but getting int some of the advanced tech end of packets, etc is where I start to get fuzzy.

I understand that IRC and newsgroups are considered by many to be some of the 'safest' zones in existence, because there are laws and rules in place, which actually give them a sort of legal protection. I won't go too far into that, because I only know that it is like that because of a very vague bill signed by 'Bill' Clinton. This provides some degree of privacy and anonymity in these private rooms.. Like I said, a *vague* understanding.

This software that the topic is related to is designed to read for large packets; and in some cases may be used either to implicate illegal uploaders, or at least limit their usage. This is where I may be WAY off, so please correct me kindly, if need be.

In my limited knowledge of packet and data sending/receiving/sniffing/filtering etc; I would imagine that IRC and Newsgroups also use, to some degree, ith packets. Would I be correct in this assumption; or am I way off?

The reason I ask, is because if I'm not mistaken, this might be something that could theoretically put a stop to IRC/Newsgroup usage, because it would filter for these large transfers, and catch them without anyone having to go inside the rooms/servers/etc that law enforcement and media representatives aren't allowed to.

Now, I understand that it's incredibly expensive software that probably won't fly; but in theory, could this be the beginning to an end for previously 'safe' methods used by many software pirates?

This is intriguing to me, because my understanding is that this may actually allow users of those more safe methods to be caught. I'm not proposing that red lambda's software will do it; but I am imagining that it may be the door to it finally happening, for example if a newer, cheaper company did something similar, that would be affordable for ISPs and the like...

Anyone's thoughts and corrections on this would be appreciated, because, like I said; I have limited knowledge of the more intricate workings of packets and data sending/receiving. Either way, this is fascinating either way.

"Its not stupid, its advanced!" - The Almighty Tallest, Invader Zim

2222.3.2007 04:19

in my opinion the only people this will affect are the people stupid enuff to use it in the first place coz if it is put in place on their network ie: universitys/colleges. How will this program be able to determine wot is " bad " packets and wot is " good " packets. For all we know this could monitor everything that gets sent or up/downloaded from the net and i think that this is a blatant breach of privacy on the users behalf. as said before 2 words " BIG BROTHER "

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