Nate SwannerFormer Reporter, TNW
TNW's former West Coast writer in the PNW (Portland, Oregon). Nate loves amplifying developers, and codes in Swift when he's not writing. If TNW's former West Coast writer in the PNW (Portland, Oregon). Nate loves amplifying developers, and codes in Swift when he's not writing. If you need to get in touch, Twitter is your best bet.
Sometimes, you don’t want to know how the sausage is made — but sometimes you do. When KickassTorrents went down, the assumption was that it was an elaborate sting operation. Nope; it was email and iTunes purchases.
The US government’s complaint, which Gizmodo dove into with some zeal, details how thoroughly foolish KickassTorrent’s leader, Artem Vaulin, was. Not only was he operating a KickasssTorrents Facebook page, but was doing so with a personal email address.
How personal? It was a ‘@me.com’ address, which is owned by Apple (and is the precursor to @icloud.com).
His email was discovered when authorities sent Facebook a warrant for information having to do with the site’s page. From there, the US Government turned to Apple.
Vaulin used the same @me.com email to make an iTunes purchase, which records your IP address for every transaction. His IP addresses were then tied to his bitcoin account.
KickassTorrents killed by email and iTunes purchases
Apple and Facebook were acting within the legal limits in relinquishing the information, and there likely was nothing about the government’s requests that rose any red flags. It’s routine, really.
The fact that Vaulin was using a single, personal email address for so many services and features is incredible. To have that single email tied to something as personal as your Apple ID which is directly relatable to you is just incredibly stupid.
And really, that will likely seal his fate. At the time of his arrest, Vaulin wasn’t known to be the ringleader of KickassTorrents — he was just the ‘alleged’ mastermind. But this is pretty damning evidence that he’s the guy — and probably the only one responsible for the torrenting site.
KickassTorrents itself is dead, but it lives on as a mirror site (which we expect will be shut down in short order). With this information, we don’t expect it — or Vaulin — to come back online any time soon.
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