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Operation 404: The Good Guys Prevail

Piracy is a big profitable business. In fact, the top 20 largest pirate websites each make almost $20m annually just from ad revenue and piracy is responsible for at least $29 billion in lost revenues in the U.S. alone. In Brazil, ABTA (Brazilian Pay TV Association) estimates that the financial impact of pay TV piracy is around $3 billion (BRL 15.5 billion) per year.

Home > Operation 404: The Good Guys Prevail

Sep 21, 2021

By Marta

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By The Investigation Team

 

Piracy is a big profitable business. In fact, the top 20 largest pirate websites each make almost $20m annually just from ad revenue and piracy is responsible for at least $29 billion in lost revenues in the U.S. alone. In Brazil, ABTA (Brazilian Pay TV Association) estimates that the financial impact of pay TV piracy is around $3 billion (BRL 15.5 billion) per year.

For the third year running, Synamedia joined the police operation against piracy coordinated by the Secretariat for Integrated Operations (SEOPI) of the Ministry of Justice and Public Security from Brazil, supported by ABTA.

Synamedia brings intelligence to the table

Synamedia’s intelligence and field operations undertook the investigation of three major closed subscription pirate networks, pirate apps and some open web pirate sites, providing human and cyber intelligence tools to aid the police in tracking the sources. Synamedia also provided the forensics and chain of evidence required for the police action.

The activities involved internet (open, deep and dark web) research, video-monitoring, tracking and identification of persons suspected of criminal piracy activities, and the crunching and cultivation of the gathered information into actionable intelligence that can be evidenced and used in law enforcement operations. The investigative work was conducted across regions, languages, and time zones, using cyber security skills adapted for a video-piracy ecosystem, to ensure accurate and timely turnaround.

Results

Alongside several industry players and partners, Synamedia gained its share of satisfaction during the 11 raids in nine Brazilian states, when 334 pirate sites were blocked by Brazilian ISPs and 94 apps were removed from Play Store[1] .

In Pernambuco, the Court authorized the blocking of 207 websites, 74 web radio applications, as well as 25 servers with pirated content.

Synamedia assisted the police in two states where one closed network had several reseller panels seized with more than 16,500 active users, and many devices were seized by the police, including smartphones, IPTV encoders and official set-top-boxes from Brazilian operators. These devices will be analyzed by forensics teams and used as evidence in the cases.

At least one person was arrested in the city of Alvorada, suspected of illegally sharing content on multiple websites. One of the websites offered more than 13,000 movies and shows.

Alesandro Barreto, Cyber Operations Laboratory Coordinator, and Carlos Bock, General Coordinator for Combating Organized Crime, both from SEOPI/Justice Department, emphasized their appreciation of Synamedia’s intelligence and our participation in the raid.

Law Enforcement Coordination for the Operation 404.3, featuring Synamedia Brazil investigation team

 

What’s Next

Synamedia will continue its support of anti-piracy activities to its customers, to ABTA and to the Cyber Operations Lab. The Synamedia team will extend training to police, offer technological disruptions and continue to provide all required evidence for raids like these.

Our collaboration with state police continues, as we analyze the devices the police seized and help with the forensics, using Synamedia’s knowledge and background in intelligence-based anti-piracy.

Impact

Law enforcement activities such as the Operation 404 initiatives are beneficial in several ways:

  • Disruption: Terminating pirate video distribution during significant events is possible, and upsets end-users of piracy in a manner that may convert them to legitimate viewing.
  • Keeping-honest-people-honest: The Brazilian government is taking a strong stand against video piracy. This sends an educational message to end-users of piracy services.
  • Deterrence: Suspects who were caught in the action will likely be deterred from pirating again, as will many other pirates in the business of illicit redistribution of content.
  • International influence: The action sends a message to other governments in the region and globally – where perhaps there is still need for better/adequate legislation or enforcement practices.

Synamedia looks at anti-piracy activities as part of an end-to-end effort to secure video distribution. We provide protective technologies to eliminate loopholes that enable content-theft, and then technologically monitor, chase, and disrupt content that has leaked to pirates. As part of this, we engage in technological analysis and forensic support to law enforcement agencies.

With the right expertise, technology, operational and legal activities, we believe it is possible to eliminate piracy entirely. The industry must protect the content sources using OTT security technologies, forensic watermarking, monitoring and real-time disruptions. This, alongside legal action such as Operation 404 can eliminate illicit streaming sources, reduce pirates’ motivation, and increase the conversion of piracy end-users to legitimate viewing.

[1] TV Globo Report

 

About the Author:

The Investigation Team
This team of experts offer technological analysis and forensic support to assist law enforcement agencies. Using our intelligence as a part of Synamedia’s anti-piracy initiatives to secure video distribution, we help support this larger investigation team and serve as a resource to help detect and disrupt pirate networks.

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