Secure BitTorrent communication over VPN

24.01.20 в 07:09 Other 266

Millions of users around the world use all kinds of BitTorrent trackers every day to quickly and easily share files with each other. For almost 20 years of its existence BitTorrent technology has been recognized by the Internet community for providing free access to a huge number of video, music, software, games, and other content.

BitTorrent Technology

Reasons you need to be careful when sharing files over BitTorrent protocol

Free exchange of information in addition to certain pros can carry a number of dangers, which you should keep in mind. Free sharing of content by a large number of people does not always satisfy authors of the content. The most striking example is film and recording studios, which are considered to lose significant amounts of profit due to free distribution of movies and music on the Internet.

In many countries all this created legislation that allows copyright holders or their representatives to sue torrent tracker users who are seen participating in the distribution of copyrighted content. In some countries this practice is less common than in the others but the risk is always there!

BitTorrent technology appeared less than 20 years ago, so its ethical status still causes disputes between supporters and opponents of free exchange. Opponents of the technology claim that it is illegal to distribute and view copyrighted material without the permission of the copyright holder. In their opinion, this violates copyrights and causes losses to companies that produce content.

In contrast, torrent supporters say that there are no copyright violations when using downloaded content for personal, non-commercial purposes. After all, once purchased license disk does not have to be used only by one person, but can be donated, exchanged, or loaned to another person for a while. In addition, the rapid distribution of content contributes to the development of greater awareness of authors and creators of content, since more users can view them via torrent.

However, any Internet user should know how to protect themselves from claims about accidental or intentional downloading of copyrighted files via torrent.

BitTorrent. How does BitTorrent work and why it can be dangerous?

BitTorrent network protocol, used by millions of people to share files, was developed about 20 years ago.

Data transfer over BitTorrent protocol is carried out within a peer-to-peer network, where users receive and transmit files directly, in a decentralized manner. In this case, the BitTorrent tracker coordinates clients, which receives metadata from each network participant containing information about the addresses of other clients, the number of files that the client has already exchanged, and other necessary parameters.

VPN Security

The convenience and stability of downloading files via torrents is achieved by using data exchange algorithms that have several features:

  • All files are transferred between clients in parts, fragments. In this way, downloads are not interrupted even if there is no client in the network that has a fully loaded file, the exchange occurs between clients that have different segments;
  • Segments are exchanged directly between users. The tracker exchanges only metadata with clients, and all data traffic is decentralized;
  • Fragments that are available to one user are always available to other participants of seeding;
  • The availability of the integrity monitoring segments;
  • Users exchange data at the same time, and there are no download queues;
  • Not only single but many files can be distributed at once, and the entire distribution is divided into segments , without taking into account the number and size of individual files.

According to BitTorrent Protocol documentation, all participants in file sharing are divided into 3 categories: leech, peer, and seed.

Leech is a member of file sharing who does not transmit data to other users though. This may be either because the member has not yet fully downloaded a fragment, or because he deliberately disabled the file sharing with other members.

Peer is a member who both downloads and shares fragments that he already has with other members.

When a peer fully downloads all fragments of the distribution and keep sharing them he becomes a seed. Also, a member who first started distributing his own file automatically becomes a seed.

Having briefly understood the principles of organizing file sharing via torrent, let's move on to the dangers that wait for fans of free downloads. The danger of using torrents stems from the lack of any built-in tools for ensuring client anonymity in this technology.

To get data from other members on a peer-to-peer network, the members must know each other's IP addresses, which makes it easy to get information from which IP address a particular file is distributed or downloaded. This information, in turn, can be used both to find the user's location and for a network attack, provided that there are vulnerabilities on the client side.

So in the United States and some European countries, there is a practice of litigation with participants of torrent file distributions. The copyright holder of a file distributed through a torrent tracker can apply to a local Internet provider to get the contact information about the network user using his IP address. Later this data is used for filing a claim in court.

Luckily, it's not that risky using torrents in all countries. There are still quite a few places in the world where no one cares about possible copyright infringement using torrent trackers.

VPN Security and anonymity on the Internet

How to ensure anonymity when working on the Internet, especially when exchanging data via torrent? Most often VPN, a technology known to a lot of users around the world, is used for this purpose.

Connecting to the Internet through a VPN tunnel encrypt your data flow and hide your real IP address, which protects you from surveillance and MITM attacks.

VPN stands for "virtual private network". It provides private data exchange between remote users or any online resources.

After you connect to a VPN server, all external resources talk to the server IP address and not yours. Actually, they never see your real IP address at all.

VPN Security

The methods described below will help you to protect yourself on the Internet

First of all, you need to hide your real IP address. As we mentioned earlier, the BitTorrent Protocol implies a P2P connection in which mean members of torrent sharing must know each other's IP and other meta data. Quite obviously VPN connection will hide you real IP. And, very probably, you will be sharing VPN server IP address with its other clients, so it will be even harder to identify you.

Reliable traffic encryption between torrent clients is also an important component of security. Knowing the real IP on its own will not lead to anything serious, actually. However, If the copyright holder wishes to demand compensation from a user for illegally obtained content, he will contact his ISP first.

Then the ISP, in turn, may provide stored data about user and what website he visited and what files he downloaded. In this case the most effective way to hide your data is to encrypt it. In this case, your data will look like gibberish without the decryption key. Usually, only the client and the VPN server have this key. Without such a key your data is meaningless to anyone.

We hope, this pretty much explains why you need to use VPN, especially in case of BitTorrent file sharing.

Secure torrent sharing via VPN

The methods described below will help you to protect yourself on the Internet

First of all, you need to hide your real IP address. As we mentioned earlier, the BitTorrent Protocol implies a P2P connection in which mean members of torrent sharing must know each other's IP and other meta data. Quite obviously VPN connection will hide you real IP. And, very probably, you will be sharing VPN server IP address with its other clients, so it will be even harder to identify you.

Reliable traffic encryption between torrent clients is also an important component of security. Knowing the real IP on its own will not lead to anything serious, actually. However, If the copyright holder wishes to demand compensation from a user for illegally obtained content, he will contact his ISP first.

Then the ISP, in turn, may provide stored data about user and what website he visited and what files he downloaded. In this case the most effective way to hide your data is to encrypt it. In this case, your data will look like gibberish without the decryption key. Usually, only the client and the VPN server have this key. Without such a key your data is meaningless to anyone.

We hope, this pretty much explains why you need to use VPN, especially in case of BitTorrent file sharing.

How to choose the best VPN service for downloading torrents?

There are many paid offers of this service on the Internet, as well as free ones. What should you consider choosing a VPN?

The main specs of a VPN as follows

Features

Types of VPN

Supported protocol

TCP / UDP

Speed and data limits

Yes / No

Number of servers in different countries

The more the better

Platform support

Windows/Linux/MacOS/iOS/Android

Torrent Support

BitTorrent/P2P


The key requirement for a VPN to be used for torrents should be the support for P2P connections and no speed or data limits. Otherwise, downloading torrents over such a VPN will not be possible.

Many VPN services support two protocols: TCP and UDP. The first protocol is more stable, the second one is faster. In case of transmitting large portions of data via torrents, it is wise to use UDP.

A huge variety of VPN servers plays an important role for several reasons. As we already mentioned, in different countries, the attitude to torrent trackers can range from full approval to illegal status. That's being said it is safer to use servers from those countries where BitTorrent is not prohibited

Moreover, the country where VPN server is located determines the connection speed. Usually, the closer the country to your real place, the higher the speed. For example, if you are located in Russia or Australia, the VPN connection through the US server will not be very fast at all, although the quality of the Internet connections in America is high. However, do not expect a high connection speed from servers located in the third world countries, because quality of Internet service can be poor in those countries.

And it's always better if your VPN service doesn't store any logs, support all popular platforms and has decent technical support meanwhile providing user-friendly VPN apps with extra security settings.

We hope this article was helpful for you and now you know what VPN you need to choose before downloading torrents. Keep your privacy and stay tuned for more!

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