The world's favourite torrent website, KickAss Torrents, is down and out with Polish cops arresting its alleged operator Artem Vaulin.
Kickass rose to prominence after the scuppering of The Pirate Bay and attracted more than 50 million unique visitors a month. That level of traffic made it the 69th most frequently-visited website on the internet.
Vaulin, 30, of Ukraine, was arrested today and charged with copyright infringement and money-laundering offences.
“Vaulin is charged with running today’s most visited illegal file-sharing website, responsible for unlawfully distributing well over US$1 billion of copyrighted materials,” Assistant Attorney General Caldwell says in a statement.
“In an effort to evade law enforcement, Vaulin allegedly relied on servers located in countries around the world and moved his domains due to repeated seizures and civil lawsuits.
"His arrest in Poland, however, demonstrates again that cybercriminals can run, but they cannot hide from justice.”
The site was the slickest public tracker that did not require users to upload or seed torrents. It even had two factor authentication for user accounts.
That latter point could prove interesting; unlike the ugly and un-loved forums of the Pirate Bay, KickAss Torrents had a highly-engaged user base for investigators to mine.
Copycat sites will doubtless appear in the wake of the site's toppling, some of which will be honeypots that pose additional risks to users seeking to download content over the peer-to-peer network.
Torrent sites could in the future find haven in dark web fast flux networks. This new and highly-dynamic model hosts web sites on a network of hacked machines that continuously switch to alter IP address information.
Criminal forums are already using the model to alter IP addresses every few minutes, making law enforcement take-down efforts extremely difficult. ®