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Kim Dotcom's Mega Fileshare Service Riddled With Security Holes 151

twoheadedboy writes "Kim Dotcom launched his new project Mega on Sunday, claiming it was to be 'the privacy company.' But it might not be so private after all, as security professionals have ripped it to shreds. There are numerous problems with how encryption is handled, an XSS flaw and users can't change their passwords, they say. But there are suspicions Mega is handing out encryption keys to users and touting strong security to cover its own back. After all, if Kim Dotcom and Co don't know what goes on the site, they might not be liable for copyright prosecutions, as they were for Megaupload, Mega's preprocessor." On this front, reader mask.of.sanity points out a tool in development called MegaCracker that could reveal passwords as users sign up for the site.
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Kim Dotcom's Mega Fileshare Service Riddled With Security Holes

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  • Alert (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 22, 2013 @09:44AM (#42656093)
    Clearly he is helping the FBI set up a honeypot in exchange for his freedom.
  • While the concepts behind Mega were a huge improvement over similar sites, I still don't see the relevance of what is basically a tarted-up Napster-style file sharing site in the age of torrents (running over darknets, too).

    • by Anonymous Coward

      The so called leader of the free hosting market for the masses, dropbox, offers only 2GB of storage and has a notorious problem with security issues. As a comparisson, Kim Dotcom's Mega service offers 50GB, and at least tries to add security from the start instead of relying on smoke-screen press releases, as happened with Dropbox.

      So, it's very relevant if you wish to safely store your files in a third-party server.

    • by JWW ( 79176 ) on Tuesday January 22, 2013 @12:02PM (#42657605)

      The security does not have to be good. The purpose of Mega is to disable the RIAA and MPAA's abilities to see what is shared.

      It doesn't matter how bad the encryption is. If the MPAA or RIAA break the encryption on Mega's files they are violating the DMCA plain and simple.

      Mega is using the RIAA and MPAA's weapons against them.

      • What if they just get someone to share content with them and find out it's a DVD of the latest Hollywood flick?

      • by Nyder ( 754090 )

        The security does not have to be good. The purpose of Mega is to disable the RIAA and MPAA's abilities to see what is shared.

        It doesn't matter how bad the encryption is. If the MPAA or RIAA break the encryption on Mega's files they are violating the DMCA plain and simple.

        Mega is using the RIAA and MPAA's weapons against them.

        Except they will be, or are probably lobbying an extension that will allow them to break DMCA in search of copyright infringers.

      • Right, tell that to the swat team when they are walking out the door with your equipment.
      • What? No, it is not. The *IAA have the FBI do their dirty work. Breaking encryption might require a warrant, if you're lucky. But the basic problem with something like Mega is that in order to be successful with those sharing copyrighted media, people have to know how to get the files they are looking for. Someone has to index the files stored on Mega. For each tracker, download each file check the contest with the key provided, then submit the dcma request.

        The purpose is supposed to be to give Mega plausib

      • It doesn't matter how bad the encryption is. If the MPAA or RIAA break the encryption on Mega's files they are violating the DMCA plain and simple.

        I am not a lawyer.

        But I'm betting if you don't have a license to distribute a copyrighted work, you can't claim the protection of the DMCA when your illegal distribution of the work is exposed.

        • by Tuoqui ( 1091447 )

          I'm sure that applying encryption would count as 'DRM' of sort... and under many DMCA like laws breaking any DRM scheme is grounds for a prison sentence :)

      • This is the only post that seems to get it. Per the DMCA, breaking encryption - of ANY strength - is against the law. MPAA and RIAA can not crack the files and then use them as evidence. Neither can law enforcement (without a warrant / probable cause). If they do, it won't be allowed as evidence in court (unclean hands).

        I am sad/shocked/disappointed that Slashdot can't see the genius this. Like the parent said, it doesn't have to be "good" encryption. It just has to be encryption. ROT13 wou
    • How about because most laws punish people for uploading, NOT for downloading. So downloading through sites like Mega is a lot safer, especially if it's all encrypted. Besides, there is certain stuff I could never find on torrent sites, but I could get people to upload it to sites like Mega.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    It is far more likely a dis-information campaign to further discredit him.

    The government claims on Mega-Upload turned out to be a bunch of lies, and I see no reason to think this is any different.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      This is waht it looks like. The same thing has never been said about rapidshare, uploaded, bitshare, dropbox or sugarsync, and Mega hasn't realy been out yet, has already about a million registered users, and it already is the target of a disinformation campaign that no other service has been subjected to date.

      It does smell fishy and it looks like Kim DotCom does scare some people.

    • I don't know about that. I mean, it's not inconceivable, not even close, but when you look at the aforementioned "masked password" problem (leaving out confirmation of a password you can't see begs for applied cluebat therapy) and the fact that even a "clean" (no add-ons or extensions) Firefox 18.0.1 won't even load the page for me, because of that stupid "The Operation is Insecure" LocalStorage error...

      It's definitely possible that it's not entirely a hatchet job.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Are you kidding me? Read the indictment, the biggest threat to your files is Kim Dotcom!

    You are worried that some creep will break in, take your private files and 'share' them with everyone, and yet you've given them to Kim Dotcom's server?

    • by Dahamma ( 304068 )

      I always wondered why people would even consider trusting this guy with anything. I mean regardless of whether he is guilty of the current charges against him, he's already been convicted for fraud, data theft, insider trading, and embezzlement in the past.

      We'll see how the situation plays out, but you'd have to be pretty naive to be surprised if a two time convicted criminal ended up doing something illegal in his current venture...

  • by eldavojohn ( 898314 ) * <> on Tuesday January 22, 2013 @10:03AM (#42656235) Journal

    The SSL encryption being used on Mega appears to be 1024-bit encryption, which can be broken with far greater ease than 2048-bit encryption viewed as best-practice amongst experts.

    Isn't this kind of nitpicking? Isn't the solution to this like changing a value in your configuration or properties files on both sides and watching performance drop a bit? I guess when you have that many users sign up at the drop of a hat, you're expected to have unblemished perfection available for all. But I don't really see this "riddled with security holes." Instead I'd say "needs improvement before you trust it with anything important." As a software developer, I'm prone to give people a break but I guess if your site isn't prepared to be hosted at DEFCON you're fodder.

    I mean, some of these points are valid like I have no idea why you would choose to do this in JavaScript but I guess if you want it to run entirely contained within the browser you don't have much choice unless you start to get into platform specific things like nacl.

    Sort of offtopic but why are we following this so closely? I mean, I understand he's challenging world governments by doing this again but do we have to watch every little step and misstep of Kim Dotcom? He's starting to rub me the wrong way as a sort of attention whore. The longer his fifteen minutes of fame last the bigger embarrassment he's going to have in the 24 hour news cycle's circle of hate. Ugh, and his name is something straight out of Idiocracy ... did he try to change his first name to "The Bomb" but was blocked by the TSA? :-)

    • by Dins ( 2538550 ) on Tuesday January 22, 2013 @10:13AM (#42656299)

      He's starting to rub me the wrong way as a sort of attention whore

      No doubt. The man legally changed his name to Kim Dotcom. That's not attention whoreish at all...


      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        For the longest time I thought Kim Dotcom was a woman. I mused that perhaps she is an ex-pornstar? So I wasn't surprised or bothered by the blatant attention whoring. Then I saw his picture and... I remain deeply troubled.

      • by hpoul ( 219387 )

        The man legally changed his name to Kim Dotcom

        btw. has anyone an idea how/where he "legally" changed his name? most german sources still refer to him as "kim schmitz", and i have found nothing which states if he changed his name in germany or finland (as it seems he has both citizenships) .. the german wikipedia entry only refers to the name saying "In Neuseeland tritt Schmitz unter dem Namen Kim Dotcom auf" - does this mean he simply used a wrong name when entering NZ, or did he change his name in NZ, but not in finland/germany?

      • But if the guy is already a celebrity, isn't attention-whoring part of his job description?

        In a related topic, it's been something of an industry rumor for the past six months that Dice has made a confidential offer to an ex-member of the band, Guns-n-Roses, to change his last name to "dot org".
    • Sort of offtopic but why are we following this so closely?

      Because *everyone* loves a good reality show or celebrity meltdown. We all love to live vicariously, but different people chose different targets.
      Thus, the Slashdot Demographic follows Dotcom, McAfee, etc... the way the rest of the world follows the Kardashian's, or Paris Hilton, or Lance Armstrong, or whatever their personal flavor of the month is.

      • I don't know about that (though it could just be my gag reflex talking).

        I follow this because I'm interested in the service and would like to see it actually survive, and also because it feels a lot like the plot to Cryptonomicon in real-life, minus constantly talking about how awesome one time pads are. The fact that Dotcom's name is attached to it is coincidental, at least, for me.

        Oh, another difference: Psychotic lawyers are yet to appear in the real life version, though there has been some heavy
      • Because *everyone* loves a good reality show or celebrity meltdown. We all love to live vicariously, but different people chose different targets.

        No. Not everyone. Have a good day. :)

    • by fermion ( 181285 ) on Tuesday January 22, 2013 @11:21AM (#42657029) Homepage Journal
      No, because it is promoted as a secure site that protects the users privacy. If we promoted as a place where users could get 50GB free space and there was an effort using various means to provide some insurance that user data was protected that would be different. One thing we have learned is that free data storage is seldom secure.

      The point of the story is to shore up the idea that many of us have had. That the encryption is not intended to to one's data secure, or to insure privacy, but to provide a means by a arms length relationship between Mega and the data that user upload. This may force any future legal battles to be between right holders and individual uploader, not right holders and mega. If you wonder what the benefit of that is to Mega and uploader, just think of how corporations hate class action lawsuits.

      But the damage occurs if users believe that the site is secure and private, so upload valuable information that Mega could later, through a change in the terms of use, mine or sell. Or some may use the site as the primary depository of data, then lose access to the data through the muddled security.

      This is an interesting topic because many believe security is easy. That I can put 100 combination locks on a door and make it 100 time more secure. That I can advertise a product 'uses 4096 Bozo military grade encryption', plug a product that uses this encryption into the software, and automagically have a more secure product that uses 1024 bozo encryption.

      • by Terrasque ( 796014 ) on Tuesday January 22, 2013 @02:35PM (#42659429) Homepage Journal

        You haven't read their own FAQ [] I take it?

        They're actually upfront about threats to the user's security.

        Is my stored data absolutely secure?

        All security is relative. The following attack vectors exist - they are not specific to MEGA, but we want you to know about the risks:
        Individual accounts are jeopardized by:
        - Spyware on your computer. A simple keylogger is enough, but session credentials and keys could also be extracted from memory or the filesystem.
        - Shoulder surfing. Do not type your password while someone could watch your keystrokes.
        - Password brute-forcing. Use strong passwords.
        - Phishing. Always confirm the security status of your connection (https://) and the correct domain name ( before entering your password.

        Large-scale attacks could be mounted through:
        - A "man in the middle" attack. Requires issuing a valid duplicate SSL certificate in combination with DNS forging and/or attacks on our BGP routes (a DigiNotar-style scenario).
        - Gaining access to the webservers hosting [] and replacing that file with a forged version (this would not affect access through the installed app base). Note that manipulating content on our distributed static content CDN does not pose a security risk, as all active content loaded from index.html is subject to verification with a cryptographic hash (think of it as some kind of "secure boot" for websites). This type of attack requires sending malicious code to the client and is therefore detectable.
        - Gaining access to our core server infrastructure and creating forged key requests on existing shares. This type of attack only affects data in shared folders and is detectable on the client side as well.

        What if I don't trust you? Is it still safe for me to use MEGA?

        If you don't trust us, you cannot run any code provided by us, so opening our site in your browser and entering your password is off limits. If you still want to use MEGA, you have to do so through a client app that was written by someone you trust.

        Doesn't that look pretty reasonable? What more do you want them to do? They created a pretty impressive webclient-driven easy-to-use file locker system, and they clearly spell out the problems with that approach.

        Many of the article's points are pretty moot, btw. It does not use JS random function, they have extra verification for the 1024 bit SSL encrypted data, and the deduplication only works for shared files ("copy to my locker" functionality is mentioned - same data, same key, same place on the storage servers).

        The part about being able to send malicious code stealing your password is explicitly mentioned in their FAQ, and in a better way too. They even cover other attack vectors the article didn't.

        They made a decent system, and they're upfront and honest about it's limitations. The article is at best FUD.

    • I agree with your main point(s) about how "riddled with security holes" is an overdramatization. But about the following:

      Sort of offtopic but why are we following this so closely? I mean, I understand he's challenging world governments by doing this again but do we have to watch every little step and misstep of Kim Dotcom? He's starting to rub me the wrong way as a sort of attention whore.

      ... you sort of lose me in this part. You start off wondering why people are paying attention, and that's a fine/deba

      • by rtb61 ( 674572 )

        With the court case still going on, obviously several parties are highly motivated to attack KDC publicly in any way possible in order to taint all possible juries into having a negative image of KDC and to side ruling against him, whether in a criminal or more importantly a civil court. The US government is up for hundreds of millions of dollars in a blatantly corrupt prosecution, where a Vice President drove the case at the behest of industry lobbyists in order to garner support for an upcoming US electi

    • Sort of offtopic but why are we following this so closely? I mean, I understand he's challenging world governments by doing this again but do we have to watch every little step and misstep of Kim Dotcom?

      Can't speak for others, but for me personally, my reason is quite simple.

      Fifty freakin' gigs. EOL

    • Speaking of picking nits, isn't using javascript's random function to generate the key kind of nit picky also? First and foremost, they do gather entropy from user interaction (mouse movements and key presses). Ok, in theory if a user uses the minimum path, keyboard only navigation you could possibly, maybe figure things out. Except even thing, generating the key is a one time thing. Unless you're literally on the run from the NSA when you sign up for the service I just don't see it as that big of deal (

    • ALL of it is nitpicking, or just plain out wrong.

      Lemme see, SSL part. Well, main site use 2048 bits, and the JS on that page loads and verifies all other resources. And file upload / downloads are already encrypted before SSL even touches them. So that point is completely moot.

      And the "Mega server could send bad code" is already covered in Mega's own FAQ - well,duh. I doubt it comes as a shock to anyone.

      As for the deduplication, I don't know. But there are ways to do that (like using file content hash as en

      • Dedupe update []:

        "Deduplication is done based on the entire encrypted file and only happens if you either upload the same file encrypted with the same key twice (unlikely) or if you copy or import an existing file in your file manager (more likely)."

        I was saying something about wild assumptions... Yep..

        • by Inda ( 580031 )

          Correct me if I'm wrong, but the crypto key is the user's password.

          Common passwords are just that, common. We all know there's a high chance the password will be password, god, 12345, or querty.

          50,000 copies of New.Movie.1080p.XVID.NOGROUP are uploaded.

          I would suggest a large number of those copies will match byte for byte.
          • User's password is used for unlocking user's RSA key. File key is randomly generated (and encrypted with said RSA key before sent to server).

            They cover the crypto in section 1.4 here [], if you're interested.

    • by Tom ( 822 )

      Isn't this kind of nitpicking?

      I'm not sure. The difference between 1024 bit and 2048 bit is that 2048 bit is this times as much as 1024:


      (had to split it up due to the lameness filter. doh!)

      There isn't even a name for this order o

  • by xushi ( 740195 )

    "Security folk have also flagged problems with the fact that Mega uses a web browser to send encryption information, opening avenues for attackers to intercept keys by breaking SSL or by commandeering Mega's servers, some of which are said to be located in the United States."

    Err, hang on.. I could swear I read a while ago that the whole point of all this was to have servers that are OUTSIDE of US ?

    What's going on here?

    • I thought the whole point was that Mega didn't have any servers. They outsource that part to several small file hosting sites. Maybe a few might be in the US?

  • A grain of salt (Score:5, Insightful)

    by aaaaaaargh! ( 1150173 ) on Tuesday January 22, 2013 @10:07AM (#42656255)

    While it seems likely that Mega's encryption is not exactly the creme de la creme of crypto implementations, I have also read some pretty dubious assessments of its cryptography, for example the review at Ars Technica which spreads more FUD than facts. Or take the claim in one of the above articles claims that the FBI is probably already typing their search warrants, which ignores the fact that this time not a single server is located within the US.

    Perhaps some writers on tech news sites fear about their ad revenues?

    • Talking about Ars, there is an interesting article about Mega encryption []
    • I wrote a comment [] about the crypto system yesterday, from a outsider amateur's point of view. Nothing in that article was even surprising.

      It's actually pretty cool, they do point out more or less the exact things in their FAQ [], which is surprisingly honest for such a site. Most would try to handwave it away or just outright ignore it.

      As extra info to that comment I wrote earlier, I confirmed that they save a version of the RSA key on their server, and during login a blob of data is sent in (login user in cle

      • Update : Regarding the random source, this [] is the code they use, and it's from this project []. It use mouse and keyboard events (not all, math.random is used to decide which ones), with rc4 as mixing function.

        And it seems to be running since page load (started in crypto0001,js) - AES function is from Stanford Javascript Crypto Library [] btw, and RSA code is from this project [].

  • preprocessor?? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by 1u3hr ( 530656 ) on Tuesday January 22, 2013 @10:10AM (#42656271)
    "... Megaupload, Mega's preprocessor."

    I expect this means "predecessor". The editors are actually paid in money to click "submit" without reading or understanding the articles?

    • by coldsalmon ( 946941 ) on Tuesday January 22, 2013 @10:13AM (#42656305)

      They're using Megaupload as a preprocessor? Clever - that way there's no copyright infringement at compile time.

    • The Slashdot "editors" were replaced a decade ago by Very Small Shell Scripts written by Rob Malda's frat buddies. You're as well trying to win an argument with ELIZA.
    • by tgd ( 2822 )

      "... Megaupload, Mega's preprocessor."

      I expect this means "predecessor". The editors are actually paid in money to click "submit" without reading or understanding the articles?

      Your reply generated another ad view.

      The editor's job was done.

      • by 1u3hr ( 530656 )

        Your reply generated another ad view.

        Not one seen by me anyway. I put up with the ads here till they started to do animated flash.

  • Alas, Chrome of course won't tell me what is invalid, and neither firefox nor midori see a problem at all. This is accessing the site from Toronto, Ontario, via Rogers Cable.
    • Weird. Chrome here, and it works fine. Of course, I'm not on Rogers, the ISP that packet inspects your traffic, to perform the "service" of telling you your computer is infected with malware before they ever get any complaints....

  • Seriously, I just spent a bunch of time playing with Tahoe-LAFS. And while it's a bit tricky to get running, it's a far better service in terms of security than MEGA is. The only thing it's missing is a front-end that allows it to use random cloud storage providers for its storage. And that's being written as we speak.

  • by Melakh ( 2670043 ) on Tuesday January 22, 2013 @10:17AM (#42656349)
    Who cares if you can intercept the private encryption key (not often you get to say that) - seriously, noone with a brain is going to be uploading sensitive data to Mega and expecting them to take care of it. There are no multinationals sitting in the wings waiting to outsource storage of their customer's credit card numbers to Mega. This is just supposed to be Megaupload minus the ability for the recording industry to demand all copies of the same file get deleted and minus the ability for the FBI to be able to ask Mega a question and get an answer about what's stored.
    • Yup, it doesn't matter that the encryption is flawed. What is not flawed is that the same file, uploaded by different people, will result in a different sequence of bits. Therefore, there is no easy way for the **AA or any *** to compare files on the site with other files and come up with a list of 'infinging' files. The purpose of the encryption is really just scrambling and for that it is probably good enough.
    • by Tom ( 822 )

      You should care.

      One, if what the idiot co-founder said in the update is true, Mega can decrypt your data. Which means their deniability just died and they will be on the hook, which means they are very likely to give your data to law enforcement in order to get out of everything.

      Two, a fantastic and fairly neutral german article [] outlines the impact on the markets and musings on some more philosophical backgrounds. The TL;DR version is that Kim is pretty much the same as the banksters we want to see in jail

  • FTA:
    "If they had bothered to read that they would have seen that we basically state exactly what they are accusing us of as possible attack vectors plus some others they are not accusing us of," said Ortmann. "All of these SSL-related attacks do no apply specifically to us. They apply to companies with equally high security requirements or even higher requirements."

    And that just about sums it up for me.

  • Kim Dotcom (Score:1, Interesting)

    by SexToyDR ( 2821565 )
    I was shocked to learn how much money this guy made the first time around...I suppose he hasn't learned his lesson. I agree with eldavojohn, though; who cares about this guy?
    • Re:Kim Dotcom (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Sloppy ( 14984 ) on Tuesday January 22, 2013 @12:07PM (#42657647) Homepage Journal

      I was shocked to learn how much money this guy made the first time around...I suppose he hasn't learned his lesson.

      Did the person who wrote the second half of that sentence, ever read the first part? Because the first part of your sentence says exactly what the lesson was, and Dotcom trying again is evidence that he did learn it.

    • I'm not sure which 'first time around' you're referring to here... The pump-and-dump ponzi scheme he ran during the late nineties dot-com bubble or the MegaUpload website he ran in the later oughts? Both operations paid him handsomely, and he so far only did a short stint in jail on the stock fraud, but the case is pending against him on the MegaUpload website. He's got more money than OJ Simpson did when he hired his legal 'dream team', so there's a chance he might avoid prosecution for MegaUpload.
      • I don't think so, after all this person has the hacker community against him. He cratered his reputation so many times. He did wrong and he deserves to get jailed. He is not only a suspected criminal but an annoyance, a shame for his nation.
        • Don't get me wrong here, I think Kim is a criminal and deserves to spend time behind bars.

          He probably expects he will spend some more time in prison, and he's launching this service quickly while he still has his illicit capital from MegaUpload and before he has to go to prison for running it. While he's in prison, the new Mega service will become lucrative and he'll still be rich when he gets out of prison.

      • by Tuoqui ( 1091447 )

        Unless he gets extradited to the US which given how NZers and the world responded to how the US went about this including using foreign intelligence agencies to prosecute a civil court matter... I really dont think it's gonna happen.

        Best way to avoid prosecution on some matter is to stay out of the reach of those who want you. Particularly if those crimes are minor or non-existant in the eyes of the public. Many people who arent of the MAFIAA persuasion believe he's the victim and that is hard to overcome e

  • by Anonymous Coward

    This does seem to be nit picking. The only real issue here is the XSS attack which as long as they fix quickly, isn't too bad. Compared to most sites I've seen this is a damned fort.

    All data is encrypted before being uploaded so the SSL encryption is only needed to protect user login. I've just checked and it appears to be using 2048-bit encryption (for login at least) so it's either been fixed or wasn't an issue in the first place.

    Mega could allow people to change passwords by decrypting the data with thei

  • by Anonymous Coward

    There is a global shortage of passwords as we have reached peak passwords. It is time to find alternative ways to secure our security.

  • The community seems quite interested in using his services and seeing that he beat his legal case. I think it is reasonable that the community help Kim DotCom out on this. He's trying to protect your data as much as his ass, which is more than a lot of companies do.

    Instead of bitching and moaning about what's wrong, we should help him fix it. Give Kim security, consider it a mutual internet fuck you to those that deserve it.

  • ... that seemingly random attention whores with no idea what they are talking about are called "security professionals".

    Even scarier is that they somehow get their place in media and people end up listening to them.

  • He's encrypting it to make it legal for his company to accept unauthorized music and movies. If you want security, encrypt before you upload.
  • by Tom ( 822 )

    Read the update on the article as well. The guys are entirely clueless about security and encryption.

    TFA is correct. This isn't a few minor issues. The main feature of the service is broken, and if what they say in the update is true and not just clueless, then law enforcement can and will get at your data, too.

Never worry about theory as long as the machinery does what it's supposed to do. -- R. A. Heinlein