In a twist of fate that copyright owners are sure to snicker at, The Pirate Bay apparently has been hacked and the info bandits have made off with user information.
According to Brian Krebs, up until December an Internet security reporter with The Washington Post, an Argentinian hacker called Ch Russo penetrated The Pirate Bay, one of the world's leading BitTorrent search engines, and snatched "user names, e-mail and Internet addresses of more than 4 million of the site's users."
Reporting on his blog, Krebsonsecurity.com, Krebs said that to prove the validity of his claims, Russo sent Krebs' own username and password for The Pirate Bay. Krebs confirmed that the information was accurate.
Russo acknowledged that he and an associate who helped get into The Pirate Bay considered selling the data to the big music labels or Hollywood studios, but instead went public about the site's vulnerabilities.
"We wanted to tell people that their information may not be so well-protected," Russo said.
Russo said he accessed The Pirate Bay's user database by exploiting some of the site's vulnerabilities to SQL injections.
Russo's hack is unlikely to endear him to the file-sharing community. While some may hold whoever is running The Pirate Bay responsible for the vulnerabilities (The Pirate Bay founders have publicly distanced themselves from the site after they were found guilty of criminal copyright violations in Sweden), to millions of file sharers the site remains a symbol of defiance against large entertainment companies and the free exchange of information.
Update 7:44 a.m. PDT: The Pirate Bay site (ThePirateBay.org) is now offline, showing only this terse message: "Upgrading some stuff, database is in use for backups, soon back again.. Btw, it's nice weather outside I think."
Update 9:40 a.m. PDT: The Pirate Bay site is once again online.