Saturday, January 19, 2013

Kim Dotcom's new Mega site launches, encryption protects both users and the site

As promised, Kim Dotcom's new Mega file sharing site opened to the public on Saturday, Jan. 19. Folks can visit the site and sign up immediately.

Despite what is bound to be huge interest, the site appears to be holding up quite well. Unlike other launches that have failed -- at least on the first day -- due to a site being hammered to the point of no return, Mega is working, at least for now.

Mega offers free membership, as well as three tiers of paid Pro membership. Free users get 50GB of storage. The Pro tiers are:

Pro I
  • 500GB Storage
  • 1TB Bandwidth
  • 9.99 per month
Pro II
  • 2TB Storage
  • 4TB Bandwidth
  • 19.99 per month
  • 4TB Storage
  • 8TB Bandwidth
  • 29.99 per month
Now, the big question: How will Mega keep itself from going down the tubes the way MegaUpload did? Many will recall how MegaUpload was taken down over charges of copyright infringement.

First, Mega has a terms of service agreement that basically absolve Mega for any naughty things users might do with the service, including copyright infringement.

In addition, the site has no idea what you are storing. Why is that? All of your data is encrypted locally before being uploaded. The user has the decryption key, not Mega, so doesn't know if you are storing your personal Turbotax files or a DVD image of "Star Trek."

In fact, once you sign up, you'll see the message:
Your 2048-bit RSA public / private key pair is now being created.

To strengthen the key, we have collected entropy from your mouse movements and keystroke timings.
Notably, it took a significant amount of time for the key generation process to complete.  It seemed to take 20 minutes or more. One other note: When you finally get the decryption key generated, if you are not using Chrome, you'll be told to use it. While Mega will work on other browsers, the site will warn you that without Chrome's better HTML5 support, things make not work optimally.

Indeed, Firefox fans, you will see this message, too. You will only see it the first time you login, though.

Still, this encryption process means that Mega can't hand over your date to anyone. Actually, it can, but in encrypted form, it's useless to anyone without your decryption key.

In the past, though, authorities have forced people to hand over their decryption keys.

Still, it seems that both end users and Mega are well protected from most prying eyes.

The site's launch on Jan. 19, 2013 was perfectly timed. It was the one-year anniversary of the raid on Dotcom's mansion over MegaUpload.

Dotcom has vigorously denied the copyright infringement charges levied against him, while at the same time working on his new service. He has also fought extradition, with the hearing now scheduled to take place in March, after being rescheduled from August of 2012 due to a series of issues related to the police handling of the case.

Dotcom was fairly recently also given the right to sue the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) for its part in the raid on his rented Auckland mansion.

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