Yesterday, Kickass Torrents suffered a devastating blow when the U.S. Government allegedly arrested the founder of the site and all of the site’s operations were quickly compromised. Kickass Torrents, which was founded in 2009 as an alternative to The Pirate Bay, became the internet’s biggest torrent site with millions of visitors on a daily basis. As a result, copyright holders and law enforcement have taken aim at the site in recent years. This resulted in several ISP blockades around the world, but yesterday the big hit came when the site’s alleged founder was arrested in Poland.
Soon after the news was made public Kickass Torrents vanished. The question that’s on many people’s minds right now is whether the site will make a Pirate Bay-style comeback? While certainly not impossible, the odds show that it is very unlikely we will see any resurgence of the site.
First off, Kickass Torrents no longer has any domain names. Going to any and all previous incarnations leads to a dead website whose DNS server cannot be reached. This downtime seems to be voluntary in part, as the authorities haven’t seized the servers. Also, several domains are still in the hands of the remainder of the Kickass Torrent’s team.
That said, the criminal complaint filed in the U.S. District Court in Chicago does reveal that Kickass Torrents has been heavily compromised. According to the feds, Artem Vaulin, a 30-year-old from Ukraine, is the key player behind the site. Over the years, he obfuscated his connections to the site, but several security holes eventually revealed his identity. With help from several companies in the United States and abroad, Homeland Security Investigations agent Jared Der-Yeghiayan identifies the Ukrainian as the driving force behind the site.
The oldest traces to Vaulin are the WHOIS records for various domains, registered in his name early 2009.
The affidavit reads:
“A review of historical Whois information for KAT….identified that it was registered on or about January 19, 2009, to Artem Vaulin with an address located in Kharkiv, Ukraine,”
This matches with records obtained from domain registrar GoDaddy, which indicate that Vaulin purchased three Kickass Torrent-related domain names around the same time.
The agent further uncovered that the alleged KAT founder used an email address with the nickname “tirm.” The same name was listed as Kickass Torrent’s “owner” on the site’s “People” page in the early days, but was eventually removed in 2011.