City of London Police warn against using ‘open science’ site Sci-Hub

Pirate papers site is best blocked on grounds it threatens university security


The City of London Police, which has responsibility for intellectual property crime across the UK, has warned universities and scientists not to use “open science” site Sci-Hub.

The British cops also called for it to be blocked by universities.

Sci-Hub is a self-proclaimed “pirate website” that offers “mass and public access to tens of millions of research papers”. But the site does not have permission to host or offer access to those papers, which is why it has in the past been shuttered by US courts for copyright breaches. The site has also been tied to Russian intelligence services.

The site justifies its activities by claiming that paid access to research “effectively slow down the development of science in human society.”

The City of London Police says the site “obtains the papers through a variety of malicious means, such as the use of phishing emails to trick university staff and students into divulging their login credentials. Sci-Hub then use this to compromise the university’s network and download the research papers.” The warning also mentions the possibility of malware infections following interactions with Sci-Hub.

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In the force’s warning, cyber protect officer Max Bruce said: “IT departments are advised to block the website on their network in order to mitigate the security risk.”

Would-be users have also been given a reminder that unique passwords should be used for every service.

Andrew Pitts, CEO of IP protection organisation PSI, said Sci-Hub exposes users to “potentially dangerous content from this illegal site and put[s] the security of their organisations at risk.”

The Register fancies that last epithet about organisational security is as important as the general warning, because plenty of universities conduct research in collaboration with private clients and/or government agencies. The unpublished, or never-for-public-access data and research involved in such projects, is almost certainly more strategically valuable to universities and their partners than any copyright-busting trove of published papers. ®


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