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Data Storage Cloud Graphics

Storing Very Large Files On Amazon's Unlimited Cloud Photo Storage 229

AmiMoJo writes: Last year Amazon started offering unlimited cloud storage for photos to customers who subscribed to its "Prime" service. Japanese user YDKK has developed a tool to store arbitrary data inside a .bmp file, which can then be uploaded to Amazon's service. A 1.44GB test image containing an executable file uploaded at over 250Mb/sec, far faster than typical cloud storage services that are rate limited and don't allow extremely large files.
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Storing Very Large Files On Amazon's Unlimited Cloud Photo Storage

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  • This is why (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 03, 2016 @08:59PM (#51435847)

    This is why we can't have nice things.

    • Re:This is why (Score:4, Informative)

      by hawguy ( 1600213 ) on Wednesday February 03, 2016 @09:06PM (#51435899)

      This is why we can't have nice things.

      This is why Marketing shouldn't promise things that they can't deliver. They should know that "unlimited" has a specific meaning and if they don't mean it, they shouldn't promise it.

      • Re:This is why (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 03, 2016 @09:11PM (#51435919)
        "Unlimited" does have a very specific meaning, and in this case it means unlimited photos, not unlimited steganography.
        • by hawguy ( 1600213 ) on Wednesday February 03, 2016 @09:13PM (#51435939)

          "Unlimited" does have a very specific meaning, and in this case it means unlimited photos, not unlimited steganography.

          I happen to have a very extensive collection of photographs of static from my TV and I need someplace to store them.

        • Re: This is why (Score:5, Informative)

          by WarJolt ( 990309 ) on Wednesday February 03, 2016 @10:32PM (#51436305)

          "Unlimited" does have a very specific meaning, and in this case it means unlimited pornography, not unlimited steganography.

          Fixed it for ya.

        • by kbg ( 241421 )

          What difference does it make? If you store unlimited data instead of unlimited photos it is still unlimited so as for Amazon it makes no difference.
          Unless of course Amazon really doesn't want you to actually use your "unlimited" storage, but then they should not call it "unlimited".

          • If real people use it for real photos only, then practicality limits the amount of data to well within what Amazon can handle, and means users don't need to care about limits.

            • If real people use it for real photos only, then practicality limits the amount of data to well within what Amazon can handle

              You don't know my wife: cell phone with 10MP camera, averaging 100 shots per hour when she's not taking video...

          • by dave420 ( 699308 )

            What difference does it make? If you consider the average filesize of a photo is a meg or so compared to over a gigabyte, you can see that there is rather a large difference. As not everyone would be uploading all the photos they will ever take at once, that means Amazon would be able to gradually increase the amount of storage dedicated to this service, reaping the benefits of decreasing storage price in the process, and the ability to take advantage of newer, larger capacity drives as they become availa

          • There's probably a clause in the agreement that allows them to use/sell your photos. If you're uploading data, they can't 'monetize' your data.

            • I was talking to my wife about cloud backup options. Right now, we backup our computers to two external hard drives. In theory, one of these drives would be taken off-site, but in practice that never happens. I was looking at Backblaze and Amazon for backup. (I have about 1TB of files to backup.) My wife was concerned about Amazon because she feared that they would look through our uploaded data or something. Quite honestly, I don't think they would, but I have no proof that they wouldn't (it's imposs

          • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

            "All you can eat", or in this case "all you can photograph" might be a better description. It's not unlimited, it's limited by your ability to consume food or take photos. They were clearly expecting the rate at which people could generate new photos to limit the amount they uploaded.

            Now excuse me, I'm off to write a script that stores files in the low order bits of images captured from my webcam with the lens cap left on at 100ms intervals.

        • "Unlimited" does have a very specific meaning, and in this case it means unlimited photos, not unlimited steganography.

          Exactly. The fact we have to spell that shit out is scary. Bring back the dinosaurs, humanity has failed!

        • It's not steganography. It's not data hidden in image. It's data wrapped in bmp header. Pretty simple solution actually. In fact, this would probably look like random noise picture if you tried to view it. Bmp's are just raster images (direct pixel data) with a very thin header in front of it. So anything can be stored as "pixel" data. Steganography usually refers to storing data along with image data (so it degrades the quality of image, but still would look like a real picture when viewed).
        • Re:This is why (Score:4, Interesting)

          by Aaden42 ( 198257 ) on Thursday February 04, 2016 @10:38AM (#51438583) Homepage

          If you read the full Cloud Drive Terms of Service, you'll find nothing in it that associates the word "unlimited" with "photos".

          The Service provides storage, retrieval, management and access features and functionality for your photos, videos, and other files ("Your Files").
          -- CloudDrive ToS [amazon.com]

          Everything they've put in writing makes it clear that you're permitted to use unlimited storage to store whatever files you like, so long as you don't resell access, use it as the backing store for another cloud service, etc. Personal use == A-OK.

          • Re:This is why (Score:4, Informative)

            by Aaden42 ( 198257 ) on Thursday February 04, 2016 @10:42AM (#51438613) Homepage

            And having now read TFS, I sheepishly rescind my previous post... This is the Prime photos thing, not the actual Cloud Drive storage thing. Previous post applies to Cloud Drive Unlimited. Yes, storing unlimited data for the photos only service is being a dick. Shell out the $60/year.

            (And if you do, pushing ZFS backups into it is a thing I'm working on... zfs-acd-backup [github.com])

      • Oh, what marketing promised they CAN do... Problem here is somebody figured out how to shove other data into containers that looked like images to the software. Don't worry, Amazon has some bright folks working for them, they will figure out how to filter out all this stuff.
      • by bloodhawk ( 813939 ) on Wednesday February 03, 2016 @11:14PM (#51436481)
        I don't like Amazon, BUT they didn't say unlimited data. They said unlimited Photos. This is the type of abuse that basically ends up hitting legitimate users where limits being imposed will be the end result.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          Isn't it kind of a form of Net Neutrality for people to come up with ways to make sure that service providers can't sort and differentiate pricing for different sorts of content?

          • No, because Amazon isn't your ISP. Your ISP isn't saying that you can upload unlimited photos but have a cap on everything else. Amazon is providing a service for a price. If you subscribe to Prime, you get unlimited Photos cloud backup but only a certain amount of space for all your other data. If you pay them $60 a year, you can get unlimited space for all types of files. This isn't involve Network Neutrality any more than having two products for sale on Amazon but only offering Prime 2 day shipping

        • limits being imposed will be the end result.

          Or conversion to a lossy format...

        • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

          It's a photo of a binary file. Perhaps they need to be more specific by saying "only photos created by a camera", which would exclude people backing up their 3D renders etc.

          • by dave420 ( 699308 )

            A photo is only a picture made by a camera. You can't open up a hex editor, put in a BMP header and then mash keys and call the resulting file a photograph, as it was not taken by a camera. You can't call 3D renders photographs either, as once more they were not taken by a camera. If they had said "unlimited image storage", you'd have a point.

      • Since it is impossible to make a product impervious to aggressive jackasses with surpluses of free time in perpetuity, you have just eliminate the possibility of any product existing ever.

      • by Ecuador ( 740021 )

        Oh, come on, consumers are furious when they get caught in a small technicality and now you are suggesting that it's Amazon's fault for not thinking "unlimited photos" can also mean "unlimited data posing as photos"? I mean, if somebody was storing many TB of their actual photos Amazon would have no right to say anything based of their promise, but this is not the same thing.

        I've seen this before. I have a Kindle Keyboard which came with a nice little perk: it has a browser (experimental, very simple) and w

      • by urdak ( 457938 )

        This is why we can't have nice things.

        This is why Marketing shouldn't promise things that they can't deliver. They should know that "unlimited" has a specific meaning and if they don't mean it, they shouldn't promise it.

        If they promised storing an unlimited number of photographs, it doesn't mean they need to promise that each photograph can be of unlimited size. The number of people who have 1 GB bona-fide photos is vanishingly small, and Amazon is of no obligation to serve them.
        However, the next step from "abusers" would be, of course, to store huge files as many separate photos on Amazon.
        But I'm not sure why "unlimited" is the point here. If they did limit it to 15 GB (like Google drive's free storage), the abusers could

    • I said that today in our local purveyor of news print.

      Somehow, our city had run Uber out of town, so that we can now be delivered here, but not from here.

      This is the adult world scenario where one guy asses it up for all the guys.

      Oblig: Yes. In this statistical example, girls are guys, too.

    • .bmp, .png and most any other lossless image format being auto-translated to .jpg in 3...2...1....

  • YDKK (Score:5, Funny)

    by turkeydance ( 1266624 ) on Wednesday February 03, 2016 @08:59PM (#51435853)
    almost a Japanese Zipper: YKK
  • My org had dozens of videos housed at Viddler.com's "free hosting" while it lasted. Viddler had trouble being free a couple of years ago and sent a big bill we couldn't pay. When we asked were our videos deleted, Viddler tech support said they existed... somewhere... in Amazon.
  • Timothy's Revenge (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Nethead ( 1563 ) <joe@nethead.com> on Wednesday February 03, 2016 @09:12PM (#51435931) Homepage Journal

    First the article with the luser asking help desk question and now this with the link in Japaneses.

    I think that with the new overlords Timothy has gone full honey badger on us.

    • by mysidia ( 191772 )

      For all I know.... if there is a download link; it's a malware bait.

    • by bill_mcgonigle ( 4333 ) * on Wednesday February 03, 2016 @10:13PM (#51436221) Homepage Journal

      timothy has been trolling you guys hard for years. You feed him every. single. time. and sell ad impressions for him while doing so. No wonder the new boss decided to keep him on - his click rate must be fabulous by now with highly refined trolling techniques.

      • by Nethead ( 1563 )

        Yeah Bill, some advice from someone that waited until Thursday to sign up for an account unlike those of us that saw the future and signed up on Tuesday back 18 years ago!

        I agree totally with what you say, but, like me, you are still in the comments here. We are both sad bastards. Can I buy you a drink sometime?

        • by Nethead ( 1563 )

          Okay, the preview showed the "snark" tag that I put on the first line but the published one didn't show that. Now I look like an asshole. Damn you to hell slashcode!

  • by bsmuir ( 4444665 ) on Wednesday February 03, 2016 @09:41PM (#51436071)

    Here is my research...

    Steganography & Amazon Cloud Drive:

    http://bsmuir.kinja.com/stegan... [kinja.com]

    • Tivo used to distribute some data at night on a TV channel. I caught it one night in a fit of insomnia, it looked like a video stream comprised of QR codes. I'm guessing the Tivo box recorded it and then decoded the full frames and then stored whatever the data stream was.

      Like QR codes, the "data" would seem fairly impervious to scaling and resampling provided that the "bits" or white/black blocks were large enough to survive downsampling. You wouldn't really care if they converted them to compressed ima

  • Too complicated (Score:5, Informative)

    by mariushm ( 1022195 ) on Wednesday February 03, 2016 @09:47PM (#51436093)

    Seems quite complicated.

    If Amazon doesn't convert the images, he could just upload a PNG file with a lot of information stored in ancillary chunks... the png specification even allows creating custom/developer chunks which should be ignored by any parser that doesn't understand them (for compatibility with future versions of the standard)

    For example, just abuse the hell out of iTXt or zTXt chunks in the format : http://www.libpng.org/pub/png/... [libpng.org]

    For private chunks, see this bit : http://www.libpng.org/pub/png/... [libpng.org]

  • by pz ( 113803 ) on Wednesday February 03, 2016 @10:07PM (#51436195) Journal

    Back in the day, when I worked as a dev at a social networking site, we would resample old photos that hadn't been accessed in over some threshold (let's say it was 1 year, for the sake of argument). Anything older than the threshold would get re-encoded in JPEG to a poorer representation in order to save storage space.

    So what stops Amazon from doing the same thing? Do their TOS say they won't?

    Non-image data under those circumstances become pretty much useless, even if packaged so that they appear to be an image of off-station TV reception. Once you include a lossy recompression, your data are no longer data, but noise for real.

  • by U2xhc2hkb3QgU3Vja3M ( 4212163 ) on Wednesday February 03, 2016 @10:09PM (#51436209)

    Japanese user YDKK has developed a tool to store arbitrary data inside a .bmp file, which can then be uploaded to Amazon's service.

    Do you want new terms of service? Because that's how you get new terms of service.

  • by pz ( 113803 ) on Wednesday February 03, 2016 @10:27PM (#51436283) Journal

    If you take the trouble to read through Amazon's TOS, and click to their actual rates, you can buy unlimited storage for photos, videos, AND ARBITRARY FILES for only $60 per year. Not only that, but Prime gets you 5 GB of videos and non-photo files for free.

    Going through all the hassle of specially encoding your data files so that they masquerade as photos seems like a heapload of time better spent earning $60 so that you don't have the long-term headaches and potential for being banned from Amazon's service that such abuses flirt with. You want a real backup service? Buy it, it isn't expensive.

    Backblaze, a darling of Slashdot, is only $50 per year. It isn't worth the hassle or time to beat the system for such low prices. Amazon Glacier is $0.007/GB/month. Both systems offer encrypted storage. Why work hard when someone else has done the figuring out for you?

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Yup, I have over 650 gigs (and growing) of 3d 1080p home videos. If my house catches fire or I'm robbed I won't lose them.

      I don't get that kind if throughout though. Uploading 50 gigs of videos takes overnight and a lot of that time is a mysterious delay between the video uploads themselves. I'm guessing the glacier service can't save them fast enough and I have to wait for them to save entirely before I can move to the next video.

    • by houghi ( 78078 )

      Because you can? If I get together with a friend, I can put my backup with him and he can do it with me for free.

      This is not about being able to find a cheap way to do things. This is about playing the system and turning a 1.4GB file look like an image, so it can be hosted like an image, even if it is not really an image.

    • I teach graduate CS courses at a university, and we get the occasional cheater. Sometimes, the cheating is blatant three students just turned in exactly the same work. However, there are occasions where we suspect cheating, but they did a good job of disguising it. Of course, they do poorly on exams. If those students would spend their time and energy on learning the material, they would learn something and get a good grade.

  • Just wait until they turn on their automatic convert-to-low-quality-JPEG functionality. :) All your .BMP files will be converted to 400 KiB .JPG files. Hope your executable is OK with lossy compression.

  • to get around an overbearing corporate firewall that forbade not only executables, but archives containing executables as well. In order to be able to e-mail new versions of a program that the overbearing company had bought, he wrote a program that packed the .exe code in a BMP file.

  • I thought we could already do this? I remember hiding .rar archives in .jpg images. Is Amazon able to detect this magic?

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