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Fusking (sometimes known as Fuskering) is a method of extracting photos from private galleries on free image hosting services. It is primarily used to obtain pornographic images from private photo albums maintained on either paid pornographic websites or personal image hosting websites like Photobucket and Tinypic.
The word “fusking” stems from a Danish word used to describe a person who was secretly doing work outside of their established trade. The first code written using this name was created by CarthagTuek, the handle of a Danish man named Mikkel Eriksen, early as 2002. He announced the third version of a script site known as Fusker on his blog Sensible Erection on March 5th, 2002. The site, which is only now available as an archive, utilized a Perl CGI script that was coded similarly to a UNIX/Linux cURL tool to find a library of similarly named files on any image hosting website. It was initially made to scrape porn sites which had sample photos in a public album, using subsequent file names to find the paid photos.
On March 20th, 2002, CarthagTuek posted a LiveJournal entry claiming his site had received 250 megabytes of traffic in one day and was the third top referrer to a lesbian pornography site. When another user asked if he was going to take down Fusker, CarthageTuek stated that he was waiting for a cease and desist.
By September 2006, fusking had grown into a widespread practice on Photobucket, a free image sharing service popular with MySpace users. Even if a user marked their album as private, fuskers could bypass Photobucket’s settings by guessing exact URLs for the images based on common file names, for example IMG, DSCF or PICT. The earliest known mention of fusking Photobucket files dates back to September 2006 in a thread posted on the tech forum Rohitab where a user proved the exploit with screenshots of a locked album.
Five days after the Rohitab forum post, the image aggregator site FuskerFind was launched, where users could tag previously fusked links to make them searchable. Months later in May 2007, a discussion thread on the topic of fusking was posted on the BodyBuilding forums. A year later in March 2008, a Photobucket-specific fusker site, PhotoFusker was launched. That year, the image-hunting practice was also discussed on the paintball enthusiast forum PBNation, hackers.org and the Nav.Net forum, which also went onto launch a Fusking software program later that year. 2008 also marked the year that Fusking was discussed in the mainstream news media for the first time, when Fox 11 in Los Angeles covered the Photobucket exploit, but did not use the term “fusking” when describing the incident.
In the following years, various discussions regarding its methods and legality continued to surface on tech-related and humor forums like Black Hat World forum and eBaum’s World among others. In addition, the first definition of the term “Fusking” was submitted to Urban Dictionary in May 2009. On October 6th, 2011, a subreddit titled Photobucket Plunders was established as a place for fuskers to post their findings. Buzzfeed and Gawker subsequently drew attention to this community, and its companion /r/RequestAPlunder in August 2012, revealing the simple method to retrieve private photos and Photobucket’s relative ignorance of the exploit.
On August 13th, 2012, ReadWriteWeb noted that Photobucket updated their privacy poilcy adding in the fact that the site cannot ensure that the photos will stay secure on their servers. The article also stated that the ability to scramble file names when uploading images to Photobucket has been available since 2010, but was not made well-known. Two days later, the moderator of /r/RequestAPlunder reported they had received a DMCA takedown notice for their subreddit. The following day, the Daily Dot reported that /r/PhotobucketPlunder received a similar letter. On the 16th, /r/PhotobucketPlunder reported they had “gone dark”, but six threads remained as of the following day. These takedowns were also covered on the Huffington Post and Gawker. Despite the legal notice, 1800 subscribers switched over to /r/PhotoPlunder, which was thought to avert the DMCA since “Photobucket” is not mentioned in its name.
Photobucket Customer Support Home – Additional Privacy Options for Users – Scramble Photo and Video File Names
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