Company Cracks BitTorrent Protocol Encryption and Introduces Tracker Whitelists

The BitTorrent bandwidth battle continues. Ipoque, a German based company that specializes in developing bandwidth managing solutions for Universities and ISPs, announced today that their products are now able to detect and throttle encrypted BitTorrent traffic. In addition, they introduce the option to maintain a "whitelist" of legal BitTorrent trackers that are allowed on the monitored network. You could call it the PeerGuardian for ISPs.

ipoque bittorrent traffic encryptLast year uTorrent and Azureus, two of the most popular BitTorrent clients implemented BitTorrent protocol encryption. This successfully bypassed most traffic shaping devices that were used to slow down BitTorrent traffic. The topic led to a heated discussion, and the BitTorrent bandwidth battle took off.

In a response to the BitTorrent protocol encryption that is now supported by many BitTorrent clients, companies like Ipoque that provide bandwidth management hardware, claim that they found a way to detect and block these encrypted (obfuscated) transfers. Ipoque doesn’t provide any details on how they are able to detect encrypted BitTorrent traffic, and it is doubtful whether they can be sure that the traffic they block is indeed generated by BitTorrent.

In addition to the ability to throttle encrypted BitTorrent transfers, Ipoque’s bandwidth managing devices now also support the use of BitTorrent tracker whitelists. “Desired legal trackers such as tracker.opensuse.org can be registered in a whitelist so that their BitTorrent traffic is accepted. All other BitTorrent traffic can be blocked.”, says Ipoque in a press release.

Lately, more and more companies claim that they have found a way to detect encrypted BitTorrent traffic. The fact is however that none of these companies actually provides data on the effectiveness of these systems. Until they open up their methods I seriously doubt the effectiveness of these devices.

Interestingly, a few weeks ago, Canadian ISP Rogers even decided to throttle all encrypted traffic (not only BitTorrent). Apparently Rogers doesn’t need a device that is able to detect encrypted BitTorrent traffic on their network, they simply throttle everyone who is using encrypted transfers.

The cat-and-mouse game continues.

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