December 13, 2018

Why Does Anybody Believe Viralg?

A story is circulating about a Finnish company called Viralg, which claims to have a product that “blocks out all illegal swapping of your data”. There is also a press release from Viralg.

This shows all the signs of being a scam or hoax. The company’s website offers virtually nothing beyond claims to be able to totally eradicate file swapping of targeted files. The “Company” page has no information about the company or who works for it. The “Customers” page does not mention any specific customers. The “Testimonials” page has no actual testimonials from customers or anybody else. The “Services” page refers to independent testing but gives no information about who did the testing or what specifically they found. The “Contacts” page lists only an email address. There is no description of the company’s technology, except to say that it is a “virtual algorithm”, whatever that means. Neither the website nor the Viralg press release nor any of the press coverage mentions the name of any person affiliated with Viralg. The press release uses nonsense technobabble like “super randomized corruption”.

The only real technical information available is in a patent application from Viralg, which describes standard, well-known methods for spoofing content in Kazaa and other filesharing networks. If this is the Viralg technology, it certainly doesn’t provide what the website and press release claim.

My strong suspicion is that the headline on the Slashdot story – “Finnish Firm Claims Fake P2P Hash Technology” – is correct. But it’s not the hashes that look fake, it’s the technology.

Comments

  1. Hi Prof. Felten, I just wanted to point you to Rachna’s comment following your comment on our class blog. In short, it might not be so difficult to spoof hashes in certain p2p programs.

  2. I can see how they might have some success at spoofing the FastTrack network (which Kazaa uses) by exploiting the lameness of the FastTrack hash. But they claim to do much more than that; and their full claim seems highly questionable.

  3. Finnish wanker says:

    Maybe it’s a “little” late april fool or something?…

  4. Note: There really exists a company “Viralg Oy” in the Finnish company registry (Y-tunnus 1815854-3), founded 27.2.2003.

    If someone is willing to pay for a report on the company or visit physically the free information terminals (in TE/PRH buildings) you could get board members, major stockholders etc. information on the company too.

    Anyway I wouldn’t get too excited about reversing hashes. If one hash algorithm is broken, then another one can be substituted. Cryptographic research is not static and hasn’t reached any “ultimate pinnacle” as new methods and methodologies are continuously researched. It is only expected that old ciphers and hashes will in time be broken.

    The situation is quite asymmetric with P2P and DRM systems — if DRM system is broken, it stays broken. If P2P system is broken, its users will gravitate to a new and better version.

    PS. I wouldn’t bet on this being “april fool’s joke”. Instead I’d guess the people in the company are not exactly with P2P networks dynamics and based on incorrect assumptions are hawking a “magic bullet” solution.

  5. At least on of their patent didn’t survive through Finnish Patent office

    17.10.2004 Application premanently withdrawn
    17.6.2004 Modification date of opening to public
    17.12.2003 First technical interim decision (VP1 or VPH)
    12.6.2003 -Transfer to technical examination
    23.5.2003 -Preparation of fees to
    collect for an application
    9.4.2003 Decision (formally insufficient)
    21.3.2003 Key-in new application

    Viralgo and BMG Finland are also under police investigation for disturbing telecommunication which is illegal in Finland.

  6. in google we trust says:
  7. in google we trust says:

    Sorry about that link, the text is in finnish.

    Here is some translations:
    Tunnistetiedot means identification data
    Selitys means clarification
    Vaatimukset means requirements
    Mosaiikkinättö means mosaik-specimen (or something)
    Alkuperäinen julkaisu means originalpublication

    In those links there should be more information in English.

    I don´t say anything what I think about the company or their products, but in businesslife this is a very good idea to make money. Reminds me about IT bubble in 2000.

  8. “At least on of their patent didn’t survive through Finnish Patent office

    17.10.2004 Application premanently withdrawn
    17.6.2004 Modification date of opening to public
    17.12.2003 First technical interim decision (VP1 or VPH)
    12.6.2003 -Transfer to technical examination
    23.5.2003 -Preparation of fees to
    collect for an application
    9.4.2003 Decision (formally insufficient)
    21.3.2003 Key-in new application

    Viralgo and BMG Finland are also under police investigation for disturbing telecommunication which is illegal in Finland.”

    Why is that list in reverse chronological order? Confusing. 😛 Also, what do you mean by “disturbing telecommunication”? Interfering with the telephone service or something?

    As for the IT bubble, if you thought that was significant you’re dreaming. Coming up:
    2006-7: Implosion of advertising industry under its own weight. Software industry begins to shrink.
    2007-8: Big Pharma bubble pops, after advertising pops and in the wake of one or more additional big recalls/scandals and a strong push for more regulation and disclosure of all study results. (Currently study results are disclosed selectively — negative ones go unpublished.)
    2008-9: Economic woes and deep recession combined with continuing resentment of refugees and welfare freeriders leads to fascism rising in Europe again. China moonshot scares the bejeesus out of US. China oil consumption scares the CRAP out of US.
    By 2012: Worsening climate change begins to cause food shortages. EU, China, and US drawn into WWIII. Industrializing former-Soviet and former-Third-World countries also get involved.
    By 2020: Either we’re back in the stone age, or there’s been a technological singularity. There’s probably been at least a limited nuclear exchange, and use of biotechnological or nanotechnological weapons.

  9. Neo: In this context, “disturbing telecommunications” means any kind of intentional disturbance to telephone, TV, radio and computer networks – allegedly the latter is what this program does. This is very much illegal in Finland and both Virago and BMG are both under police investigation.

  10. Depending on aspect, there already have been limited nuclear exchange:
    http://members.surfeu.fi/11syyskuu/military.htm

  11. members.surfeu.fi is refusing all HTTP connections on port 80. Check your URL.

    What were Virago doing to “disturb telecommunications”? DDoS and hacking?