Microsoft studies Ethereum’s blockchain anti-piracy system | Antivirus and Security

Microsoft is looking for new and more sophisticated ways to combat piracy of its products, especially the Windows operating system and Office suite programs, currently part of Microsoft 365. The latest addition to the company’s efforts to combat this problem is the addition of blockchain technology to their plans to create the “Argus” system, which tracks pirated software with anonymous reports circulating across the Ethereum network.

Microsoft (Image: Tadas Sar/ Unsplash)
Microsoft (Image: Tadas Sar/ Unsplash)

Microsof Research Asia released a new document detailing the study carried out in partnership with the Alibaba Group and Carnegie Mellon University, in the United States. The project’s idea is to rely on the transparent and decentralized nature of the Ethereum network to create the “first public anti-piracy system”, dubbed Argus.

Argus encourages informants and tracks the origin of piracy

“Anti-piracy is fundamentally a procedure that relies on collecting data from the population anonymously, so how to encourage reliable reporting is a central question. Industrial alliances and companies carry out campaigns to encourage the fight against piracy, but their effectiveness is publicly questioned due to the lack of transparency”, Microsoft contextualized in a statement.

In the 11-page document, Microsoft describes the design, functioning and possible implementations of the new blockchain system. The company says Argus will run on a public blockchain to encourage cyber piracy whistleblowers and allow them to remain anonymous while maintaining a certain level of transparency for the general public.

“We believe that full transparency of a campaign is needed to really get people going,” he added. For that, Microsoft wants a system in which each person can “understand its mechanism and be sure of its execution”.

The reports sent to Argus, for example, will protect the identity of the informants, but will also allow the company to trace the origin of the pirated content, which will have a “watermark”. This is an algorithm called “leak proof”, linked to each report. This also prevents the same piracy case from being double-reported.

Blockchain allows multiple checks at low cost

Blockchain network (Image: Tumisu/Pixabay)
Blockchain network (Image: Tumisu/Pixabay)

A blockchain is a form of public ledger, in which all transactions are recorded after being authenticated. In addition, by optimizing multiple cryptographic operations, piracy reports will “be reduced to a cost equivalent to sending around 14 ETH transactions,” the company added in a statement. This is a relatively inexpensive solution considering Ethereum’s typically high fees.

“With the security and practicality of Argus, we expect real-world anti-piracy campaigns to be really effective, moving to a completely transparent incentive mechanism,” Microsoft concluded.