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Finns tout new anti-P2P tool

New company Viralg wins local awards, backing of record label for file swap blocker.

A Finnish company called Viralg is emerging with claims to have a high-powered new way of stopping unauthorized file trading on peer-to-peer networks.

The company, which took the top prize at a recent Finnish emerging-technology competition, says it has been working with BMG Finland to protect local music releases on file-swapping networks for more than a year.

The company's method involves piggybacking on modern file-swapping networks' ability to download from several sources at once. It mimics the digital signature of a desired song, movie or game, and then adds junk data into the download stream, corrupting the file.

The technology "mixes together files in P2P networks in a way that the illegal downloader will end up downloading useless garbage instead of real music, movie or game content," the company said in a press release outlining its technique. "Our...technology is capable of destroying already-shared functional files from peer-to-peer networks."

The company is entering an anti-P2P market that has already contributed much to clogging the biggest networks, such as Kazaa, with numerous "spoofed" files and decoys, making them much more difficult for the average person to use.

Companies such as the Loudeye-owned Overpeer have worked with record companies, movie studios and game companies for several years to protect files on the network. Loudeye claims that it can offer a 99 percent level of effectiveness in protecting its clients' files.

Viralg makes the same assertions, saying its technique is more effective than past versions. It has not divulged details about its service but says that it can artificially mimic the digital signature, or "hash," of valid files on a network so that the peer-to-peer client can't distinguish between the junk and good data.

The company is keeping a low profile for now, though it is seeking international clients and investors. Viralg's marketing director declined to give the names of the founders or executives, or to reveal the size of the company.

Finnish business reports have said the company is led by managing director Jaakko Happonen and founder Juha Natunen, and that its current clients include a "global game console producer," as well as local music and movie producers.