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New Service Converts Torrents Into PNG Images

Soulskill posted more than 5 years ago | from the pretty-useful-pictures dept.

The Internet 297

jamie points out that a new web service, hid.im, will encode a torrent into a PNG image file, allowing it to be shared easily through forums or image hosting sites. Quoting TorrentFreak: "We have to admit that the usefulness of the service escaped us when we first discovered the project. So, we contacted Michael Nutt, one of the people running the project to find out what it's all about. 'It is an attempt to make torrents more resilient,' Michael told [us]. 'The difference is that you no longer need an indexing site to host your torrent file. Many forums will allow uploading images but not other types of files.' Hiding a torrent file inside an image is easy enough. Just select a torrent file stored on your local hard drive and Hid.im will take care the rest. The only limit to the service is that the size of the torrent file cannot exceed 250KB. ... People on the receiving end can decode the images and get the original .torrent file through a Firefox extension or bookmarklet. The code is entirely open source and Michael Nutt told us that they are hoping for people to contribute to it by creating additional decoders supported by other browsers."

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The race is on... (5, Funny)

grub (11606) | more than 5 years ago | (#28702783)


The.Black.Hole.1979.dvdrip.xvid.torrent -> goatse.png
... you know you want to.

.

The other way around works too *evil grin* (1)

davidwr (791652) | more than 5 years ago | (#28702849)

"Hey folks, go to http://imagehostingsite.com/animals/cutebear.png [imagehostingsite.com] to get The.Black.Hole.1979.dvdrip.xvid.torrent"

goatse.png->The.Black.Hole.1979.dvdrip.xvid.torrent

You know what to do...

Re:The other way around works too *evil grin* (2, Funny)

discord5 (798235) | more than 5 years ago | (#28703327)

The.Black.Hole.1979.dvdrip.xvid.torrent -> goatse.png

goatse.png->The.Black.Hole.1979.dvdrip.xvid.torrent

Well, that explains why in the UK piracy is down [arstechnica.com] .

Re:The race is on... (1)

bishiraver (707931) | more than 5 years ago | (#28703219)

Wouldn't really work. This isn't true steganography; it just generates an image based on the torrent file. tag should be "!steganography" not "steganography"

Re:The race is on... (1)

duguk (589689) | more than 5 years ago | (#28703337)

Wouldn't really work. This isn't true steganography; it just generates an image based on the torrent file. tag should be "!steganography" not "steganography"

It's more steganography than it is "renaming a .torrent file to a .png", that some people seem to think it is. Sure it's just some nice, but fairly simple encoding of a file into an image, but it's quite a neat idea. Give the guy some credit.

Why not just use slashdot instead? (4, Insightful)

goombah99 (560566) | more than 5 years ago | (#28703451)

It won't work as intended but not for the reason you say. Regardless of whether it's steganongrphyically encoded or not, this is just amtter of detectability to the eye.

let's work through the logic:
        If a firefox plugin and retreive the torrent then so can any image hosting site. all reputable ones will decline to host those images. the torrents might be legal ones, but the image hosting sites will not see it valuable to their bussiness model to offer a service which might be hosting links to tainted goods.

      if the encoding is done is some way that while a firefox plugin can easily recover a code that represents a torrent but you can't tell from the code if it is a torrent (without say actually trying it out) then you will have to have some other signifier that the image contains a valid torrent and the identity of what the torrent contains (so you can search for what you want). ANd again the image sites will decline to host those.

so you might as well just post hex encoded torrents and their plain language desciptions right to slashdot in the comments or in your journal. Anyone can then use slashdot's search feature or for that matter google with a site:slashdot.org search term to find them.

so it seems like this has no value as a means of hosting torrents.

Now it does have two uses one legitimate and one not. it could be just a conveinet way to pass around a torrent assoiciated with an image all in one handy container (kind of like a bussiness card printed on a mini-cd). nd it could be a way for someone to establish plausible deniability that they were posting a torrent. e.g. a blog post deploring the loss of revenue for Metalica with a picture of the band's latest almbum that happens to hide a torrent for that albumn. ("oh the irony, I just grabbed that image off google images and little did I know that particular one held a torrent. wink wink")

If I were a congressman, what would I do? (3, Interesting)

cellurl (906920) | more than 5 years ago | (#28702791)

I still think the solution is to change TPB to a TpayB. Allow us to pay $1 for a movie and allow studios to save face and jump in. More hiding like this will just put the Congressmen in action to filter. If this path is chosen, we will all be living in wifi-caves before long.

Re:If I were a congressman, what would I do? (1, Informative)

je ne sais quoi (987177) | more than 5 years ago | (#28703069)

TPB was purchased by a gaming company [kotaku.com] and has gone legitimate.

Re:If I were a congressman, what would I do? (1)

cellurl (906920) | more than 5 years ago | (#28703279)

I know, but I still don't see what I want.

What? (4, Insightful)

geminidomino (614729) | more than 5 years ago | (#28702793)

No "steganography" tag yet?

Slashdot, I'm disappointed in you. :P

Re:What? (5, Funny)

grub (11606) | more than 5 years ago | (#28702887)


It's hidden in their header png.

Re:What? (3, Insightful)

slim (1652) | more than 5 years ago | (#28703093)

It's not steganography. It's an explicit PNG encoding of a torrent file. It's not a PNG of a kitten with a torrent hidden within so a casual viewer wouldn't realise.

Re:What? (5, Informative)

rawr_one (1474675) | more than 5 years ago | (#28703161)

I don't get why they can't just use the old trick of hiding a zip file in an image file. [wikihow.com]

Seems simpler, technology-wise, to me than encoding a torrent file as a PNG image, and all you would have to do to get the torrent file is change the extension on the file. Also seems safer. Unless this trick wouldn't be possible with .torrent files, that is?

Re:What? (1)

slim (1652) | more than 5 years ago | (#28703233)

Because that technique is for hiding a payload.

This technique is not a hiding technique. It's just a technique for getting past content-type based filters.

Still limited (4, Insightful)

rnelsonee (98732) | more than 5 years ago | (#28702801)

Hosting a bunch of images doesn't do any good unless you have a text (or at least searchable) description of what you're downloading. Without context, warehoused information is useless. And these PNG files are just different representations of the same quasi-legal information (that is, they're still colored bits [sooke.bc.ca] .

Re:Still limited (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28702885)

Make the file an image of text that describes what the contents are. Or just use forum software that lets you upload arbitrary files.

Re:Still limited (5, Funny)

lxs (131946) | more than 5 years ago | (#28702909)

Obviously you have never visited 4chan.

Re:Still limited (1)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 5 years ago | (#28702929)

Hosting a bunch of images doesn't do any good unless you have a text (or at least searchable) description of what you're downloading. Without context, warehoused information is useless. And these PNG files are just different representations of the same quasi-legal information (that is, they're still colored bits [sooke.bc.ca].

Hence the suggestion in the summary:

'The difference is that you no longer need an indexing site to host your torrent file. Many forums will allow uploading images but not other types of files.'

(empasis mine)

Re:Still limited (1)

Hatta (162192) | more than 5 years ago | (#28703179)

You don't need an indexing site to host your torrent. You need an indexing site to help peers find your torrent.

And if you just want to post torrents to a forum that doesn't allow arbitrary uploads, encode the thing to ASCII with yEnc.

Re:Still limited (1)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 5 years ago | (#28703269)

Forums are very good at performing keyword searches... Need I explain more?

Re:Still limited (1)

Hatta (162192) | more than 5 years ago | (#28703341)

Doesn't that make the forum an indexing site? Hell, I know of a few trackers (mvgroup.org for instance) that simply use forums for indexing and distributing .torrents.

Re:Still limited (5, Funny)

tooyoung (853621) | more than 5 years ago | (#28703167)

Hosting a bunch of images doesn't do any good unless you have a text (or at least searchable) description of what you're downloading. Without context, warehoused information is useless.

Yes, someone should invent a method for posting images on the internet and associating text with them.

Re:Still limited (1)

RiotingPacifist (1228016) | more than 5 years ago | (#28703321)

if only there was user contributed website that contained listings of most media content!

Re:Still limited (1)

Ephemeriis (315124) | more than 5 years ago | (#28703459)

Hosting a bunch of images doesn't do any good unless you have a text (or at least searchable) description of what you're downloading. Without context, warehoused information is useless. And these PNG files are just different representations of the same quasi-legal information (that is, they're still colored bits [sooke.bc.ca] .

That was my initial reaction as well.

Instead of a .torrent file you've got a PNG, but I'm not sure how much that helps anyone.

I don't think the complaint was ever that the information contained in the .torrent file was somehow infringing copyright or breaking laws... I believe the argument has been made that there's nothing actually copyrighted/illegal in the .torrent file itself, and judging from the results of recent court cases that argument doesn't seem to be working terribly well. The PNG still contains the same information as the torrent... Still enables you to download the same files... Would, therefor, still be vulnerable to the same lawsuits and takedown notices - wouldn't it?

It isn't a text file, so it might be harder to locate the incriminating evidence with a simple text search... But you'll need to indicate what's contained in the file somewhere, or nobody is going to know what they're downloading. You'll still need a searchable index, or a header on the forum post, or at least a line or two of text saying what the picture gets you.

So... How is this actually better than a .torrent?

wait wait wait... (4, Funny)

Rooked_One (591287) | more than 5 years ago | (#28702807)

you mean the pirates are going to continue to beat out "the man" and get away with it?

I'm just utterly shocked.

Re:wait wait wait... (3, Insightful)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 5 years ago | (#28702955)

All "The Man" needs to do is modify the image. Which is rather common practice anyways.

1. Insuring images are scaled properly.
2. Reconverted so the images will fit in the Database.
3. Insure you just have the image not a hack.
4. lossy compression to save storage space.

Re:wait wait wait... (2, Insightful)

smallfries (601545) | more than 5 years ago | (#28703107)

Here we go with another technological arms race. How many image hosting sites will run the converter on all uploaded images and automatically reject those that contain an embedded file? Or just remove the steg and retain the basic image...

So the next step will be some sort of keyed steg, with the keys distributed on some sort of centralised webserver.... oh no, actually that might break. But luckily keys are quite small and can be widely distributed as long as the image sites don't get a hold of them. It's going to be an interesting few years...

Re:wait wait wait... (1)

poetmatt (793785) | more than 5 years ago | (#28703157)

Don't forget a big whoops when a legitimate image file matches one of their filters and gets deleted, or when this becomes full blown steganography (which I'm sure it has by the time of this writing)

Re:wait wait wait... (1)

AndrewNeo (979708) | more than 5 years ago | (#28703281)

How do you know it contains a hidden file? I've written a file<->PNG converter, it's rather simple and you can do a large number of things to obfuscate it (reorder the bits, etc.) but overall, you can't really tell it's a 'file' unless you actually look at it. I think you're thinking of stenography, which this is not. This is changing the bits of the file into RGB values. PNG's lack of compression allows even conversion on the other side.

Re:wait wait wait... (1)

rastilin (752802) | more than 5 years ago | (#28703109)

Presumably the people sharing will be posting these images on sites that don't do all of these things.

Re:wait wait wait... (1)

value_added (719364) | more than 5 years ago | (#28702959)

you mean the pirates are going to continue to beat out "the man" and get away with it?

I believe Mr. Universe [wikipedia.org] expressed those very sentiments.

Re:wait wait wait... (2, Funny)

just_another_sean (919159) | more than 5 years ago | (#28703171)

you mean the pirates are going to continue to beat out "the man" and get away with it?

I'm just utterly shocked.

Oh just wait, PNG's won't be around much longer.
Remember folks, when PNG's are outlawed only outlaws will have PNG's.

Re:wait wait wait... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28703181)

Well the software is open source. So it shouldn't take too long for forums to be able to filter out files made in this fashion fairly simply. They just need a filter on their upload that uses the decoding function and checks to see if it returns readable text and then block the upload.

Re:wait wait wait... (1)

slim (1652) | more than 5 years ago | (#28703353)

Probably the forum owners are not motivated to filter these.

Maybe their hosting company would. But probably only at the behest of some law enforcement power.

So what this is really doing is setting up a situation where if the governments tries to legislate, there's a response that goes, "wait a minute, you want us to scan and block *pictures*?

Just make sure your image hosting site... (4, Insightful)

lobiusmoop (305328) | more than 5 years ago | (#28702815)

doesn't re-scale or tag your uploaded images first!

Re:Just make sure your image hosting site... (1)

JSBiff (87824) | more than 5 years ago | (#28702843)

. . . or automatically convert the image to a .jpg.

Might Not Be a Problem (2, Insightful)

MarkPNeyer (729607) | more than 5 years ago | (#28702873)

If the conversion process is resilient enough, it might not depend upon the image having an identical binary format.

Re:Might Not Be a Problem (1)

corsec67 (627446) | more than 5 years ago | (#28702957)

Hmm, a binary picture like this one [ipernity.com] ?

(Just a picture of a wrecked building run through a threshold filter)

Re:Might Not Be a Problem (1, Insightful)

larry bagina (561269) | more than 5 years ago | (#28703021)

The article doesn't go into detail, but since it's PNG, that suggest they're using ancillary chunks (iTXt/tEXt/zTXt) to store the torrent data. If that's the case, pngcrush or converting to another image format would kill the torrent.

Re:Might Not Be a Problem (1)

sys.stdout.write (1551563) | more than 5 years ago | (#28703247)

The article doesn't go into detail, but since it's PNG, that suggest they're using ancillary chunks (iTXt/tEXt/zTXt) to store the torrent data. If that's the case, pngcrush or converting to another image format would kill the torrent.

Given the sample images shown on the article, I'd say it's more likely that they are using pixel data to encode the information. If this is the case then lossless conversion to another format wouldn't ruin it, but conversion to JPG would almost certainly scramble the bits.

I could try downloading a torrent of album covers and end up with an anal bum cover!

Re:Just make sure your image hosting site... (1)

slim (1652) | more than 5 years ago | (#28703455)

I don't think the content will be affected by tag modifications.

These are pretty small images (one of the samples is 380x32) so rescaling isn't going to happen unless it's a deliberate attack on this technique. But there are far easier attacks if you're explicitly trying to block this exact technique.

Why not rob a bank instead? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28702839)

And find ways to get aways with it.

huh?
huh?

Re:Why not rob a bank instead? (2, Interesting)

noundi (1044080) | more than 5 years ago | (#28703099)

If people constantly found ways to rob banks without implications there wouldn't be many banks left, would there? Instead there would be another solution that fits reality better. I don't know if you're trying to be funny or really using this as an argument, but if you're serious then you have to understand that if a method doesn't work, you need to rethink it and adapt it so that it does. The same goes with robbing banks. The very reason that we have banks left is because they've been adapted to reality. Bigger and more secure safes, security staff, panic buttons etc. The fact that avoiding getting caught filesharing is so easy means that something is wrong. Either we keep up this charade and try to limit internet without any results, or we adapt ourselves and our businesses to it and create new rules that can coexist with internet.

Re:Why not rob a bank instead? (1)

DaveV1.0 (203135) | more than 5 years ago | (#28703197)

The very reason that we have banks left is because they've been adapted to reality. Bigger and more secure safes, security staff, panic buttons etc.

It is funny you say this, because corporate copyright holders have done just that and a huge number of people went "WAIT! That is not fair!11!!1!". Copyright legislation, law suits, DRM, etc are all adaptations to the reality created by people who have no morals or ethics and casually violate copyright law.

Re:Why not rob a bank instead? (1)

Jafafa Hots (580169) | more than 5 years ago | (#28703335)

I'd say copyright legislation is less like adapting your business model to reality than it is trying to force reality to adapt to your business model.

Re:Why not rob a bank instead? (1)

noundi (1044080) | more than 5 years ago | (#28703521)

No not really, not at all actually. Corporate copyright holders have held a gun at the heads of a few threatening that anybody that does the same will be made an example of. This is not even remotely close to my bank example. They can't stop the methods because it would take an insane amount of restriction and surveillance, so they try the scare tactics. If the method was adapted to reality we wouldn't have had this discussion to begin with.

Also you know very damn well that people object to the fact that they are forced to be monitored just so that nobody shares files. This is a pretty big sacrifice we make for the entertainment industry and you seem to think that people brought it on themselves. Perhaps they did, but perhaps the entertainment industry did as well. Whatever methods are used today are [thepiratebay.org] completely [isohunt.com] useless [mininova.org] , and to defend them isn't doing the entertainment industry nor their consumers any good. Nobody thinks music artists should be poor, at least nobody that enjoys music, since nobody would produce music if reality was as such. But the current structure is not the only possible one, and I'm damn sure that even the entertainment industry will abandon this fools errand sooner or later. Right now you're one of the responsible for keeping this natural transition at halt.

Re:Why not rob a bank instead? (1)

MightyYar (622222) | more than 5 years ago | (#28703129)

We have compassion for you, the anonymous internet troll. We pirate so that you can troll us with something other than the GNAA.

Does that mean... (2, Funny)

EricX2 (670266) | more than 5 years ago | (#28702905)

I can download all of my pirated torrents and view pr0n in one convenient step? If so, this is one brilliant Nutt!

How completely and utterly useless. (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28702913)

How completely and utterly useless.

Why browser plugins? (3, Interesting)

JSBiff (87824) | more than 5 years ago | (#28702927)

"The code is entirely open source and Michael Nutt told us that they are hoping for people to contribute to it by creating additional decoders supported by other browsers."

Ok, ok, I do understand that a browser plugin adds some convenience, but how about a stand-alone version (native executable, or maybe something like a Java, Python, Perl, or Lisp program [which would be cross-platform]), which I can just run either as a GUI, or even a command line. . .

png2torrent in.png out.torrent

(heck, the original torrent filename might be stored in the png, so you might only need to specify the input file, and optionally an output path/filename if you want to change the name or extract to a different directory).

Maybe a drag-and-drop icon on the desktop - drag the png to the icon, and it automatically creates the torrent on the desktop.

Re:Why browser plugins? (1)

Ormy (1430821) | more than 5 years ago | (#28703031)

What does the code do except from change the filetype extension from .torrent to .png and back and what is stopping me from doing that manually? Renaming manually 'example.torrent' to 'example.png' isn't exactly a hassle.

Re:Why browser plugins? (1)

duguk (589689) | more than 5 years ago | (#28703295)

What does the code do except from change the filetype extension from .torrent to .png and back and what is stopping me from doing that manually? Renaming manually 'example.torrent' to 'example.png' isn't exactly a hassle.

That's not what this does, otherwise forum software would reject it for not being an image. This software actually makes an IMAGE which is composed of the contents of the torrent, and can be converted back to a torrent file. It's nost just a rename of the file extension.

It's not lying - it IS actually an image, it just so happens to contain other data, if you look at it the right way. Try reading up on Steganography [wikipedia.org] (no, it's not really steganography, because its obvious it contains other day) - but hopefully you'll understand.

Re:Why browser plugins? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28703311)

HAHAHAHA

get out

Re:Why browser plugins? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28703405)

Your renamed file clearly wouldn't be an actual valid png. You'll need the PNG 8 byte PNG signature... and the header... er, and the rest. PNG is non lossy, you can easily convert 8 bit ASCII into 8 bit pixels, store the pixels in a non lossy image (PNG) and then reverse the process at the other end.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Portable_Network_Graphics#Technical_details

Re:Why browser plugins? (1)

slim (1652) | more than 5 years ago | (#28703411)

What does the code do except from change the filetype extension from .torrent to .png and back and what is stopping me from doing that manually?

It turns it into a valid PNG: something a PNG viewer can load.

The result looks like a horizontal strip of random pixels, size nx32 pixels (where n varies), with a block on the left that looks like "hid.im" in white on black.

http://www.hid.im/system/pngs/6/original/torrent.png?1246950724 [www.hid.im]

Won't work well (2)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 5 years ago | (#28702937)

All sites hosting images will just be required to filter for those images which have torrents inside (it shouldn't be hard, just try to decode the torrent, and if you succeed, reject the image). Or alternatively, to implement software which destroys the included torrent before putting the image online.

Re:Won't work well (4, Insightful)

slim (1652) | more than 5 years ago | (#28703149)

All sites hosting images will just be required to filter for those images which have torrents inside (it shouldn't be hard, just try to decode the torrent, and if you succeed, reject the image).

Which just makes for an arms race, and one where the pirates can be more reactive than the authorities. Create new encoding methods, encode into different formats (MP3, JPEG, HTML, whatever).

Re:Won't work well (1)

Smidge204 (605297) | more than 5 years ago | (#28703177)

You can't destroy the torrent before putting the image online, because it's not steganography. You're not embedding the torrent data in an existing image, you're converting the torrent data into a visual representation.

The images just look like random colored patterns when viewed normally.
=Smidge=

What's the point? (2, Insightful)

Hatta (162192) | more than 5 years ago | (#28702949)

If you're trying to post torrents into a web board that won't let you, wouldn't it be easier to encode the torrent to ASCII somehow? Say, MIME or yEnc? I mean, you want people to find the .torrent, so there's no point in hiding it with steganography.

Re:What's the point? (3, Informative)

value_added (719364) | more than 5 years ago | (#28703025)

Say, MIME ...?

I think you mean base64.

As for hiding it, I think that's sort of the point behind this scheme.

Re:What's the point? (0)

Hatta (162192) | more than 5 years ago | (#28703145)

As for hiding it, I think that's sort of the point behind this scheme.

What's the point of hiding something you're trying to share with the public?

Re:What's the point? (1)

omnichad (1198475) | more than 5 years ago | (#28703185)

Like this?
 
MIME-Version: 1.0

Content-Type: application/x-bittorrent

d8:announce30:http://tracker.prq.to/announce13:announce-listll30:http://tracker.prq.to/announceel44:http://vip.tracker.thepiratebay.org/announceel40:http://tracker.thepiratebay.org/announceel45:http://open.tracker.thepiratebay.org/announceee7:comment30:--- www.Yestorrent.com ---13:comment.utf-830:--- www.Yestorrent.com ---10:created by13:BitComet/0.9613:creation datei1237154572e8:encoding5:UTF-84:infod5:filesld6:lengthi5478058e4:pathl6:Sample25:devise-meteop2.sample.avieed6:lengthi731465728e4:pathl18:devise-meteop2.avieed6:lengthi11395e4:pathl18:devise-meteop2.nfoeee4:name47:Meteor.Path.To.Destruction.Part2.R5.XviD-DEViSE12:piece lengthi1048576e6:pieces14060:=âoeÂ)Âzy1ÃËoeÃsâï$Æ'â"Ãâ¦ËsÂ¥âËâzhÂââÃÃ"ÂæÃ%!+ÃüÂ}?&BÃ9#âÂc?_A!Ã¥ÃÃSOtâÃËzÂâOBÃ¥â¥6@Ã¥zBË}R)'vEVâKatÃâoeÂâÃÃoeâéÃü+âoâ--S-[Â
0Ã$lTÃ'ÃÃÂ2TÂÅÃ(TM)NÂâoeÂÃ(TM)â\Ã"GÃÅ"Ã"
ÃâLÃÃ'ÂÃ"`â"^ÅâËâ6oâÃ'6Ã#Ãâ¦ÃLÃLsZnÃÂlLéNÃÃâ

PNGs?! (5, Funny)

Rik Sweeney (471717) | more than 5 years ago | (#28702977)

OMG, who uses PNG files?! The compression routine is rubbish! I'm going to use this technology, but I'm going to convert the files to JPEG before I upload them. When people see how much smaller the file is that they have to download, they'll quickly move over to my way of thinking.

Re:PNGs?! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28703137)

OMG, who uses PNG files?! The compression routine is rubbish! I'm going to use this technology, but I'm going to convert the files to JPEG before I upload them. When people see how much smaller the file is that they have to download, they'll quickly move over to my way of thinking.

And can you say "utter moron" any louder? PNGs default compression type is lossless, JPGs default compression type is lossy, and saving them as JPG (in a licensed, proprietary format too!) without compression will not save you any space, and also probably break compatibility with any existing plugins that will decode these pics.

Good luck decoding your torrents, dumbarse. *kapow*

Re:PNGs?! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28703209)

wooooooooooooooooOOOOOSSSSSSH!

Re:PNGs?! (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28703243)

whoosh!

Re:PNGs?! (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28703275)

Whoosh!

Re:PNGs?! (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28703445)

You're a fucking idiot.

Re:PNGs?! (1)

wexsessa (908890) | more than 5 years ago | (#28703139)

OMG, who uses PNG files?! The compression routine is rubbish! I'm going to use this technology, but I'm going to convert the files to JPEG before I upload them. When people see how much smaller the file is that they have to download, they'll quickly move over to my way of thinking.

Those of us that need lossless compression, but we use SuperPNG, which has better compression.

The conversion to JPEG might be a disappointment - my gut feel says this torrent trick won't work if the data are altered by JPEG's lossy compression.

PNG vs JPG (-1)

Spliffster (755587) | more than 5 years ago | (#28703201)

OMG, who uses PNG files?! The compression routine is rubbish!

Who cares about this small difference in file size? PNG is compressing images lossless [wikipedia.org] , supports alpha transparency and you do not have to worry about copyrighted parts of the implementation (it's free not just as in beer). Who cares if the files might be (but must not) 10% larger? Once you realize it is lossless you might even see a benefit ;)

Kind regards,
-S

Re:PNG vs JPG (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28703289)

I think that commenter was being super sarcastic.

*WHOOSH* (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28703429)

That would be the joke, going over your head.

Re:PNG vs JPG (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28703443)

Once you realize it is lossless you might even see a benefit

I think the lossless versus lossy bit was the crux of the joke. Converting the torrents to jpeg would lossily compress the torrent, thus breaking it upon decompression.

Re:PNGs?! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28703345)

Looks like #competitivegeekbaiting escaped Twitter.

This puts a new twist... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28702993)

...on the contents of certain imageboards...

Bad metadata (1, Interesting)

tverbeek (457094) | more than 5 years ago | (#28703005)

Filename extensions are a form of metadata, and I don't think it sets a good precedent to lie in the metadata for a file. It's bad enough that we have Windows hiding filename extensions from the user, and encouraging people to just double-click on a file to launch the associated app. This just seems like asking for more problems, as people try to double-click on mjthriller.png and it launches - and crashes - IE.

Re:Bad metadata (1)

slim (1652) | more than 5 years ago | (#28703183)

You misunderstand. It *is* a PNG. Load it with a PNG viewer and you'll see a fuzz of random looking pixels.

But it can be translated into a .torrent.

It's a bit like a barcode, only with more capacity since it's 2D and colour.

Re:Bad metadata (1)

mdwh2 (535323) | more than 5 years ago | (#28703187)

I'm not sure where you're getting all this from? If the PNG file is a valid PNG file, it's not lying in the metadata. It's perfectly correct - and actually, it would by lying to label it .torrent in this form, since it isn't a valid torrent file.

This just seems like asking for more problems, as people try to double-click on mjthriller.png and it launches - and crashes - IE.

Why would IE crash? IE would display the PNG file. But if you fed an encoded file to your torrent application, it wouldn't know what to do with it.

(And as an aside, even if the file is invalid, the application shouldn't really crash...)

Re:Bad metadata (1)

IBBoard (1128019) | more than 5 years ago | (#28703191)

It's still a valid PNG, so it shouldn't crash IE when you open it. Based on the examples then it looks ugly as hell (it's more "render the file as-is but interpret as RGBA colours in a PNG" than "discretely hide the important data in some way" ala Spore's creature photos), but it is still an image.

That said, I wouldn't trust some versions of IE not to choke on standard 32-bit PNGs anyway :D

Re:Bad metadata (1)

duguk (589689) | more than 5 years ago | (#28703245)

It's not lying - it IS actually an image, it just so happens to contain other data, if you look at it the right way. Try reading up on Steganography [wikipedia.org] and hopefully you'll understand.

Re:Bad metadata (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 5 years ago | (#28703263)

But they do create a valid PNG image. So if IE crashes on trying to show that image, it must be an IE bug.

Re:Bad metadata (2, Informative)

terrukallan (831807) | more than 5 years ago | (#28703299)

No, these actually are png images. They can be handled by any software that is capable of working with png images. This is not (as many seem to think) simply changing the extension of torrent files, or attaching a torrent as some sort of metadata to an image.

Instead, what they're doing here is encoding the data contained in a torrent file as valid image data. I'm not sure exactly what technique they're using, but the process is essentially analogous (though surely more complex) to treating each bit as a black/white pixel indicator. Given some agreed upon dimensions for the image (either width or height, doesn't matter which) this gives you a black and white bitmap which could then be encoded as a png.

Clearly what they are doing is more complex since their images are color (and they may be relying on specifics of the way png images are formatted), but the basic idea is the same.

Re:Bad metadata (2, Informative)

Ephemeriis (315124) | more than 5 years ago | (#28703519)

Filename extensions are a form of metadata, and I don't think it sets a good precedent to lie in the metadata for a file. It's bad enough that we have Windows hiding filename extensions from the user, and encouraging people to just double-click on a file to launch the associated app. This just seems like asking for more problems, as people try to double-click on mjthriller.png and it launches - and crashes - IE.

I know, I know... This is Slashdot, nobody reads the article. But could you at least read the summary?

They aren't re-naming a file. They aren't just dropping the .torrent extension and replacing it with .png The resulting file isn't going to run any malicious code or do anything bizzarre.

They're encoding the bits of the .torrent file in a .png image. It actually creates an image. Looks like some kind of abstract/modern art kind of thing... Blocks of bright colors. You could open it with any graphics program... Set it as your wallpaper... Send it off to WalMart to be printed on photo paper...

An example.. (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28703011)

Here's an example [imageshack.us] . It's the OpenOffice.org 3.1.0 win32 torrent taken from the OO.o site.

Alternatively (2, Interesting)

planetmatt (1024599) | more than 5 years ago | (#28703079)

Couldn't you just use the comments section of a .tif file instead? At least then the picture could still look like kittens instead of a broken magic eye.

Re:Alternatively (1)

duguk (589689) | more than 5 years ago | (#28703261)

Couldn't you just use the comments section of a .tif file instead? At least then the picture could still look like kittens instead of a broken magic eye.

Most forums only allow PNG and JPEG, not TIFF. Nice thought though.

Re:Alternatively (1)

terrukallan (831807) | more than 5 years ago | (#28703317)

A fair number of message boards only allow for a certain subset of image formats to be uploaded. In my experience, png is nearly always one of those. .tif is not.

Excellent, it's open source. (2, Informative)

BlueKitties (1541613) | more than 5 years ago | (#28703175)

I'm half tempted to pop it open myself and add a feature that inserts a text description into the encoded PNG. Really, I don't think it would be too hard (hell, it could just have a few flag bits that tell the interpreter how much of the image needs to be cropped to remove the description.)

IE6 FTW! (2, Funny)

wangahrah (898109) | more than 5 years ago | (#28703199)

Lack of transparency support for your PNGs won't let those bastards see through the image to your thinly veiled P2P activity! Looks like IE6 just won the browser war.

The REAL Da Vinci Code (3, Funny)

Blixinator (1585261) | more than 5 years ago | (#28703217)

Take a .png of the Mona Lisa and convert it to a torrent and it downloads several thousand hours of voice notes by Da Vinci... and porn

Just use MAGNET uris (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28703283)

Both Azureus and uTorrent support it, maybe even more. For example in uTorrent, right click any torrent and choose "Copy Magnet URI" and use it in Open Location dialog. The torrent file is downloaded thru DHT network.

secret in secret (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28703293)

I wonder if this would be useful if the torrent data was also encrypted with your own secret key and then converted to an image.
Only the person with the secret key could then decode the image to find teh filez. ...or a we just chasing our own tail?

RARJPG? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28703325)

I don't know if it's detected by forum though.

what does this do that (1)

kickedfortrolling (952486) | more than 5 years ago | (#28703333)

ren *.torrent *.png

wouldnt?

(on windows...)

4chan banned similiar images (5, Interesting)

Pingh (1130313) | more than 5 years ago | (#28703363)

A while ago it was a common thread on 4chan to have torrents hidden within rar files appended to jpgs. This lead to massive amount of virus infected files being uploaded. 4chan banned images that it could detect rar headers within. I can imagine similar practices would be up and about on other image boards as well.

Good for small torrents maybe, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28703423)

Most torrent files for feature length 1080p releases, especially those with DTS sound, are quite a bit larger than 250kB.

Re:Good for small torrents maybe, but... (2, Informative)

slim (1652) | more than 5 years ago | (#28703497)

This is for encoding the .torrent file. Not whatever it points to.

For example, I just found a torrent file for Terminator Salvation - 14kB

Even better ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28703457)

if the images involved are on RIAA etc websites - just a thought. mind you.

Binaries (1)

jkxx (739331) | more than 5 years ago | (#28703525)

I'll be impressed when they start hiding torrents in EXE files, like with hydan. Bloated installer archives (Nvidia drivers being a good example) should make for nice carriers for this. Or even better, expand to making it possible to hide the info in any kind of file.

Why limit it to torrents? (5, Informative)

Steve S (35346) | more than 5 years ago | (#28703527)

I built a utility that can be used for the same purpose back in april. http://cosmodro.me/blog/2009/apr/11/smuggle-improved/
It's a small flash movie that can encode files into pngs and decode them back. It's not limited to torrents, so you can encode any file that's less than about 16MB.

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