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People use Google Drive to share and store pirated, explicit content

People switch to Google Drive to share illegal and explicit content as Google removes it online (IANS)

Cyber criminals and pirates of the Internet now have a new goldmine in Google Drive where they are freely storing and sharing illegal software licenses, movies, games and porn content — most of which have allegedly been indexed in Google Search as some Drive users made such links public in their individual accounts.

Google Drive is a file storage and synchronisation service that allows users to store files on their servers, synchronise files across devices, and share files.

According to independent cyber security researcher Rajshekhar Rajaharia, thousands of such explicit and illegal content is being circulated via Google Drive, in zipped compressed files.

"Apart from thousands of porn videos, at least 25,000-30,000 links are likely sharing illegal content like malware, software, movies, games and what not. One can search such links in Google Drive at ease. Just do a search and download at will," Rajaharia told IANS on Sunday and shared several such screenshots.

The irony is that movies/games/software that have been removed from Google Search on the basis of copyright violation are available in Google Drive for faster download.

"Unlike other file sharing websites, Google Drive allows faster downloads so such illegal and explicit content is thriving on its platform," the cyber security researcher claimed.

An email sent to Google asking if such content is being stored and shared freely on Drive did not elicit any response.

Under its terms of service, Google says that "We may review content to determine whether it is illegal or violates our Program Policies, and we may remove or refuse to display content that we reasonably believe violates our policies or the law. But that does not necessarily mean that we review content, so please don't assume that we do".

While Google doesn't go into the details of its detection methods, it uses file-hashes to detect infringing content.

Google Drive matches the hash of copyrighted video content with files that are stored by users to identify pirated content. The company does this on a voluntary basis, according to media reports.

According to Rajaharia, Google Drive is dangerous in a sense because one can search anything easily on its platform that other file-sharing websites.

"There are thousands of pirated movies, softwares, mobile apps uploaded on Google Drive and you can easily search in Google," he said.

Nearly 80 per cent of the Google Drive movies links are malware. "One wrong click may install malware into your PC or mobile," Rajaharia added.

According to data provided by him, total Drive links indexed in Google Search are over 10 lakh but not all these links are related to piracy/illegal files.

"There are over 20,000 movies links, more than 2,500 software download links, over 2,500 APK (Android Application Package) mobile apps and more than 1,500 cracked illegal software copies (not all may be pirated)," Rajaharia told IANS.

The Google Drive users must also be aware of their actions.

"They should not make pirated movies and other content public on Google Drive as this will lead to indexing on Search. They must keep their content private or share links with people they know and trust," the cyber security researcher emphasised.