Video: How People Are Tracked Using BitTorrent

Being tracked by anti-piracy organizations and receiving infringement notices on file-sharing networks is becoming more common. A security project manager has just released a short video showing how it's done.

A common question from BitTorrent users is how anti-p2p outfits trace and trace file-sharers in order to send infringement notices. We’ve reported on one technique in the past and now, thanks to Dan Morrill, a Security Project Manager with VMC Consulting in Redmond Washington, we have a short video illustrating another basic technique which is easy to understand.

Dan’s example involves him downloading a large file with the popular Azureus client, while giving a commentary on the various types of information offered by the client, a brief overview of how BitTorrent works, how it’s possible to be tracked and how the gathered information could be processed. He also touches on anonymity and the use of blocklists.

A popular piece of IP blocking software is Peerguardian, which can be downloaded at Phoenix Labs, with the blocklists available from Bluetack. Users seeking anonymity can achieve this by using a free proxy server but in reality, most don’t offer performance anywhere near good enough for BitTorrent. VPN services such as VPNTunnel aren’t free but they’re reliable and generally protect users from the techniques shown in the video.

Just one criticism; Dan states towards the end of the video that if you don’t use blocklists you are almost guaranteed to be ‘nabbed’. The majority of people don’t use blocklists and the majority of those are not getting ‘nabbed’.

Indeed, most of the cases we hear of from the United States are people who don’t use BitTorrent at all. On the other hand, blocklists mostly offer pseudo-security, since there’s no guarantee that you are not tracked while using them.

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