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Encrypting the BitTorrent Traffic

Today, using torrents has become an increasingly difficult task. Sometimes, the internet service providers (ISPs) can put restrictions while on other occasions, there can be judicial issues. The best way of dealing with these problems and using worry free torrents is through encryption and anonymization of your torrent traffic.

How do torrents work?

BitTorrent is essentially a method of distributed sharing. When you go to a software site and install the new update for the software, then you are using an undistributed file sharing system. In such cases, the file goes from a single server to your system. In undistributed file sharing (for instance BitTorrent), you download the file from many sources. Anyone who is using the same tracker for a file can send it you.

The problem with this model is that anybody can join the ‘torrent swarm’ and see what you are downloading and uploading. So, a government looking to block torrents or an internet service provider who wants to to choke your connection can also track your activities. Through anonymization, you hide your IP address from everyone in the torrent swarm. And if you add an encryption layer,  even your ISP will be unable to track your activities.

For encrypting and anonymization your BitTorrent traffic, you first need a torrent client which is compatible with proxies. You will also need a proxy provider and a local proxy server which connects to the encrypted tunnel.

Ensuring anonymity

To start the anonymization, you need to run the torrent client and then go to the preferences section. You will find a sub menu for connections in the preferences panel. In this sub-menu, you need to fill in the information about the proxy server that you use, which includes a user name and password given by the service provider.

Under the authentication section, you will find check boxes like ‘proxy for hostname look-up’ and ‘proxy for P2P connections’. You need to check all these boxes. Also, check every box under the proxy privacy section. If you don’t, then the entire exercise will end up as a failure. After making all the changes, restart the torrent client.

Ensuring encryption

You can hide your IP from the outside world by anonymization, but your ISP can still detect torrent traffic and choke it down. So, you need to use a proxy that has a configuration for encrypting the traffic. After you have setup this configuration, you will have to change the server details from your proxy server to ‘127.0.0.1’, which is the address of the local system. Now the data flowing between your system and the proxy server is encrypted.

Checking if anonymization is working or not

When you use a proxy server with your browser, you just have to go to a site to ensure that your IP address has been changed. However, you cannot do that with a torrent client. To be sure  that your anonymization process for the torrents has been successful, you need to go to a site that checks your torrent IP. Such sites usually give you a small torrent to download. Once you use the torrent client to download the file, you can open the trackers tab in the information panel. This tab will show you the information from the tracker, including your IP address. If the address is the same as your original address then you need to check your configuration again.

The entire process of anonymization and encryption may look a bit complicated to some, but it can be really helpful in blocking the ISPs and government authorities from watching your activities. Just keep in mind that sometimes, using such methods results in deterioration in browsing speed. However, that is a small price to pay for ensuring anonymity on the web.

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