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OFF-TOPIC: MobiTV wants to shutdown HowardForums [UPDATE]
Posted by Arne Hess - on Friday, 07.03.08 - 17:24:38 CET under 01 - General News - Viewed 12960x
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I know, for many of you this isn't new anymore since most of the::unwired readers are also great contributors to HowardForums but for the rest it might be new anyway. HowardForums, a great Canadian mobile phone resource, operated Howard Chui is facing some trouble from mobile TV provider MobiTV. Howard recently informed me that some forum members discovered that MobiTV stores links to their video feeds in an ASCII text file that anyone with Internet access, but without any hacking-skills, can view. With the right mobile device or PC software, it even gives users free access to MobiTV's video offers. Wouldn't be a problem if MobiTV wouldn't be a commercial service which requires a subscription (US$ 9.95 per month).

However, if you just type the appropriate URL (which was available before from numerous resources already, not just Howard Forums) into your web browser, you can watch MobiTV's TV offer for free!

Well, looks like MobiTV is in deep trouble now for several reasons:

  • They offer commercial TV services in an completely unprotected way which I'm sure, the broadcasting networks, which owns the intellectual property, are not happy about.
  • I'm also sure Sprint isn't happy about this because it's questionable why someone should subscribe to Sprint's mobile TV service (which is provided by MobiTV) if you can get it for free anyway.

And because MobiTV found out that they are, sooner or later, in deep trouble with its partners, they went wild now and Howard has since received a number of cease, desist and take down notices from lawyers representing MobiTV. Furthermore the ISP that hosts HowardForums has received a notice from MobiTV that requests that HowardForums be shut down. And all this happened because MobiTV, a company - not a one man show - seems to work like a 1995 web developer which put plain ASCII love letters on his server and wonders later that the whole world is reading it!

Come on, it's neither Howard's fault nor the forum user's fault that MobiTV seems to be incompetent and I wonder what's next - my Credit Card details in another ASCII file on the same server? Fact is, that everybody can access this file. Sure, it might not be linked from the homepage, maybe even Google robots aren't allowed to read the file (even if a robots text file doesn't exists on the questionable subdomain) but the file, which contains all the direct links to MobiTV's TV/Sprint's Mobile TV channels (including FOX News, Discovery Channel, NBC Comedy, ESPN Mobile TV and NBC Sports Mobile) sits completely unprotected on a web server without any access restrictions!

We are talking about the Internet, about servers and about educated users. I don't known how the initial users got notice of this URL but somehow he got the knowledge about its existence. And if you put anything on a web server, without protecting it from unauthorized access, you have to pay for the consequences, not the one who reported about the existence: "Don't shoot the messenger"!
Once I put a script on the::unwired server which allowed to upload photos from a HTML page to a directory. I used it on an unused test-domain and the file name was something like upload.php (for sure not index) and you know what - 2 weeks later I found dozens of uploaded photos there, which I never uploaded. The domain is even not findable through Google but it happened. Who was the fool? Me who put the script on the server or the users which had fun uploading some harmless pictures to my server?

MobiTV better checks their security mechanism instead of bothering websites, which unveiled critical security issues with a service, with legal actions. At least, MobiTV should be happy that this issue was unveiled. But also potential customers should better know which company they give their Credit Card details. If a company isn't taking care of its core assets, why should it takes care of others personal data?

And please, and I urge you to Digg this story and help support HowardForums. So far we have 412 diggs and counting.

UPDATE: Looks like the dispute between MobiTV and HowardForums is settled. According to Howard Chui, he had a conversation with Paul Scanlan, the president of MobiTV, and he said: "Howard, great catching up today. Again, we're big fans of the sight (site?) and our intention was never to bring your entire sight (site?) down or to "censor the Internet" like we're being accused. [...] Please know that our first priority is always to fix any security issues with our system and we're doing that. Additionally, we also have a responsibility to our content and carrier partners to reduce the impact of any breaches to the system once they occur and that was really the basis for the correspondence you had with our legal team."

Cheers ~ Arne


 
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Comments
Posted by Lost Customer on 07.03.08 - 18:00:02

Have read it on HoFo before and will kill my subscription immediately! I'm not going to give my hard earned money these idiots anymore.

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