Posted by: Hastur | February 20, 2011

Privacy War in SL *final update*

An important privacy issue in Second Life is getting more attention concerning a device known as RedZone.  This device was created by resident named zFire Xue and touted as a security system to prevent copybot theft.  However, this system takes advantage of a weakness in the SL client’s media protocols to identify and record your IP address and cross-reference primary and alt accounts.

Avril Korman has written a fantastic article titled: “Spies, Lies and Cold Hard Cash” that explains in detail how RedZone invades resident’s privacy and violates Linden Labs Terms of Service.

Additional Resources

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2/28/11 - Avril Korman has written a lengthy and very informative update on the RedZone situation, “A Bitter Harvest“.

3/2/11 – Soft Linden added a note on the JIRA providing the following details that essentially puts the final nail in RedZone’s coffin.  *updated* zfRedZone is back on the Marketplace once again around 3/10.

3/13/11 – The RZ site was apparently hacked by unknown individuals that zFire Xue taunted into breaching his wildly insecure systems.  The results are fairly alarming to say the least.  The links below detail the latest disturbing discoveries. 

** If you made an account with RedZone on isellsl, change your passwords everywhere! **

3/14/11 – More disturbing information is being reported on multiple sites today that zFire Xue is apparently a convicted criminal.

“…. multiple criminal convictions, including convictions for eBay fraud. This is an article about Mike Prime – zFire Xue. A longer PDF court record is here, and a New York Times article is here. Note from the court record that he had a string of previous convictions for first and second degree theft, two counts of possession of stolen property in the second degree, and forgery….”

  • Read the full article at No2Redzone here.
  • SLU thread revelations and further criminal discoveries begin here on page 193.

3/15/11 – More updates being appended to the page as new information becomes available.

3/16/11 – Linden Labs has dropped the ban hammer on zFire Xue and RedZone!

  • zFire Xue’s profile showed as ‘disabled’ and disappeared from search (including many of his known alts) around 4:45pm SLT/PST yesterday.
  • Soft Linden began the purge of zFire Xue’s land and objects a few minutes later.snapshot1, snapshot2
  • Several sims reported to be using RedZone suddenly stopped triggering RZ URLs.
  • Samantha Poindexter posted her highly detailed summary update at SLU late Tuesday evening.
  • RedZone was removed from the SL Marketplace around 7:25am SLT/PST today.
  • zFire Xue’s land was also reclaimed by Linden Labs today. The ‘Mad Scientists Inc.’ group no longer appears in Search and Vasilisa Shilova also appears to be banned.

Many thanks to everyone who voted on the JIRAs, posted at SLU, blogged, tweeted, and filed Abuse Reports on these issues.

Massive props to Linden Labs (and Soft Linden!) for taking action to defend resident privacy!

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3/18/11Final update to this post. The removal of RedZone and zFire Xue by Linden Labs is only a small part of the ongoing issues involving online privacy.  New security updates to the official SL and third party viewers are essential to remove vulnerabilities that unsavory individuals will use for illegal purposes, even under the guise of helping the community.  Many dedicated residents remain vigilant to ensure that these opportunists are identified and reported if they attempt to return.  We will also publish an additional primer on using Media Filters on our help pages.

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