Thousands of pirated video game links hosted on South African public laboratory website

MyBroadband was recently alerted to pirated video game download links on a domain belonging to the National Health Laboratory Service (NHLS).

The NHLS is a public health laboratory service with laboratories throughout the country, founded in 2001.

The institution’s website features research publications, medical news, diagnostic services information, and – hidden in an unlisted subdirectory – a repository of download links for pirated video games.

A sub-directory named “gm” placed within the website’s existing assets directory was discovered following a tip-off, which held thousands of download links for copies of pirated video games.

The repository comprised over 3,700 individual pages listed within a publicly-accessible subdirectory which was indexed by Google.

Piracy pages

Each page contained the name of a cracked PC game along with a “Download Now” button, many of which redirect to a now-inaccessible Russian domain.

The pages have existed on the NHLS domain for a number of years, as many of the game download pages were last edited in 2014 and 2015.

It is unknown how many of the download links were functional at the time of discovery, as the files are not stored on the NHLS server – the links redirect users to external domains.

Descriptions below the download button for many games also bore no relation to the game being linked.

For example, the description under the download link for Plants vs Zombies was:

The summer before senior year, and never forgotten by the many lives that you have touched, and is therefore deprived of the most powerful and heartfelt speech of the novel, you will have to keep an open mind, because PDF viewers allow the pages to be flipped one at a time with a swipe, I just had to give it a try with my boys.

Each page featured a simple layout, with a download link and basic file details in the centre, a sidebar with links to other pages within the directory, and a header which stated “Free Online File and Document Storage”.

MyBroadband contacted the NHLS for feedback on the game download links, after which all offending pages were removed from the domain.

The NHLS said its IT department is conducting an investigation into the matter and it would share the results when the investigation was complete.

The organisation did not provide further feedback by the time of publication.

Now read: All the piracy websites which ISPs in Australia must block

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Thousands of pirated video game links hosted on South African public laboratory website