21 Feb 2015

KickassTorrents goes down after its domain is seized, but makes a quick return

KickassTorrents, one of the most popular torrent sites and arguably the biggest alternative to The Pirate Bay, went down today. The domain kickass.so was seized, leaving the site unreachable and users confused. Attempting to reach KickassTorrents leads to default errors like “This webpage is not available” in Google Chrome and “Server not found” in Mozilla Firefox.

Yet the site’s administrators have brought it back rather quickly at an old domain name: kickass.to. It’s not clear how long this will be used as the home for the site (yet another domain switch may occur), but it appears to be working for now. The .so domain, however, is still not resolving.

Google Chrome users see the following explanation when trying to reach the old domain:
The server at kickass.so can’t be found, because the DNS lookup failed. DNS is the network service that translates a website’s name to its Internet address. This error is most often caused by having no connection to the Internet or a misconfigured network. It can also be caused by an unresponsive DNS server or a firewall preventing Google Chrome from accessing the network.
Firefox users see this message:
Firefox can’t find the server at www.kickass.so.
  • Check the address for typing errors such as ww.example.com instead of www.example.com.
  • If you are unable to load any pages, check your computer’s network connection.
  • If your computer or network is protected by a firewall or proxy, make sure that Firefox is permitted to access the Web.
Internet Explorer users are simply redirected to their default search engine, yet that is only slightly more helpful. Trying to search for KickassTorrents still points most users to the .so domain, and it will take quite a while before Google and Bing start directing users to the .to alternative.
A whois domain name lookup for kickass.so confirms the domain name was seized. This is likely caused by the .so registry reacting to a complaint from copyright holders. Oddly, the fake site kickasstorrents.so was not affected, so the target ban was likely very specific.

KickassTorrents has changed domain names before. Like The Pirate Bay, it has switched to avoid law enforcement, although most efforts for both sites are usually proactive. This time, that’s not the case.
Because the domain name has been banned, KickassTorrents can’t simply redirect users from kickass.so to kickass.to. Most visitors will have to find out about the change on their own, and while that is a hassle, it does show just how resilient torrent sites can be.



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