With stricter anti-piracy laws being introduced worldwide, BitTorrent users are increasingly seeking ways to hide their identities online. Apparently the demand for anonymous BitTorrent transfers has reached a point where people are starting to believe in miracles, which then become news.
Today, The Register reported on a piece of code that apparently has the ability to make BitTorrent downloads untraceable. Before anyone gets too excited about this holy grail, we sadly have to shatter the hopes and dreams of all anonymity seekers out there.
The code the article refers to is SeedFucker, which is intended to poison BitTorrent swarms with fake peers. For years, these type of ‘exploits’ have been mainly used to to promote malware and other dubious torrents by making it look like there are thousands of people sharing the torrents in question.
This code can insert thousands of random IP-addresses into a swarm which is great for spammers, but useless for people who want to hide their own IP-address. No matter how this code is rewritten, one’s actual IP-address will always be reported to the tracker.
In theory, SeedFucker could cause problems for the anti-piracy outfits that track BitTorrent downloads because they would run into many fake peers. However, most reputable tracking companies confirm whether the material in question is actually being shared from a particular IP-address.
“It might seem to some that this is a major change, but in reality it’s nothing new, nothing that isn’t already done by some trackers themselves,” an experienced BitTorrent developer told TorrentFreak when commenting on the code, adding, “It doesn’t substantively change anything, and will not change things in the conceivable future.”
Indeed, all trackers based on the Opentracker software already insert fake peers, a setup that stems from the times when anti-piracy tracking outfits didn’t confirm that actual transfers were going on. With these fake peers, BitTorrent users would have plausible deniability if they were taken to court.
Aside from the fact that it’s utterly useless in terms on anonymity, the SeedFucker exploit will not work at all on most major BitTorrent trackers as they don’t honor the “ip=” parameter used in the code. If anything, the use of this code will trick BitTorrent users into believing that files are more popular than they are in reality, which can only lead to problems and a lot of frustration.