Tag Archives: BitTorrent

Should You Use a VPN When Downloading Torrents?

Have you ever wondered if someone is watching when you download a torrent?

The answer is categorically yes, even if you haven’t noticed any evidence of it. The snooping is indeed as undercover as it comes.

What you likely have noticed is irritating popup ads for VPNs on torrent sites. Then there are the flashing warnings that your IP address is exposed.

Sure, it’s an attempt to put the fear of god into you so you sign up with a VPN provider.

Nonetheless, is there some validity to covering your behind with a VPN when downloading torrents? Let’s explore that.

BitTorrent: Not Always Unethical

Before proceeding it should be said that LetMeBy.com doesn’t condone piracy. Moreover, it’s assumed the motives of the reader are pure.

Despite its reputation, BitTorrent distributes free content belonging to the public domain. Plus, it’s a protocol much like e-mail or www. So, don’t believe those who broadly label it as “bad.”

And then there are those many gray areas. Perhaps you want to download a video game ROM when you already own a physical copy. Or maybe you’d rather download MP3 files rather than ripping the music CD yourself.

Regardless, you have the ability and right to protect your privacy.

How BitTorrent Works

Downloading torrents isn’t as anonymous as it might seem. To understand why, we need to take a look at the basic mechanics of it.

The BitTorrent protocol is a peer-to-peer method of file sharing. It’s decentralized so there is no single point of failure.

So, when you start downloading a torrent you become an active participant in that system. Right from the top you help to serve the file. Thus, others can get the data you have so far. Then when the download is complete the file starts to seed, making you both an uploader and host of the content.

Who Can See Your IP Address?

During the process described above your IP address is accessible to others connected to the same torrent. So, it’s indeed plausible that an entity could monitor and record the IPs that connected to a torrent. Also, with apps like uTorrent you can view the IP of users quite casually by clicking on the Peers tab.

Savvy companies with big budgets use automated software to spy on users downloading their digital products without paying.

Another potential risk to your privacy is your internet service provider. This is the entity that can find out exactly who you are based on your IP. Although these companies rely on their users to maintain their business, they’ve clearly sided with other big business when it comes to copyright violations.

An online survey of 1,000 conducted by PCMag found that 25 percent of respondents named ISPs as the biggest threat to their online privacy.1

Those in the Crosshairs

Copyright holders are most concerned about stopping the original uploader of a torrent, followed by subsequent uploaders. Furthermore, since all downloaders are also uploaders by design, there is no way to shirk responsibly for proliferating copyrighted material.

The film and TV industries in particular have been vigilant about preventing unofficial distribution of their video.

Torrents and the Movie Industry

Napster first pulled the genie out of the bottle in the music industry. And it hasn’t been the same since.

The film industry was similarly slow to adapt to technological change. Initially, increased demand for digital downloads and streaming were often met by unofficial channels.

But in this case, studios have done better in terms of enforcing copyright. Along the way film studios managed to utilize incredible technology to defend their turf.

Trackers are now embedded into popular movies which automatically find users who download their material unlawfully. Copyright infringement notices are sent via e-email thanks to cooperation with the user’s ISP.

Thus, downloading movies from torrent sites carries greater risks than many imagine.

Recently 3,400 Canadians faced the legal consequences of illegally downloading movies in Federal Court. The crackdown was launched by a Toronto law firm on behalf of U.S. movie production houses hoping to enforce their copyright claims.

Defendants have paid anywhere from $100 to $5000 to settle these claims.2

How VPNs Protect Users

When you use a VPN (virtual private network), your traffic is encrypted and secured to ensure that no one can spy on your activity—even when you’re torrenting.

Your actual IP address is replaced with an IP provided by the service. This provides anonymity since the IP in use is not associated with any one person.

Recommended VPNs

As there has been a surge in demand for VPNs, there is no shortage of services to choose from. Luckily even the best VPNs are affordable, so there is no reason to go for anything less than top-notch.

Read full reviews of the best VPN providers here. Or if you’re short on time, click on one of the links below. These are currently among the top choices out there:

Wrapping it Up

Don’t kid yourself. ISPs and corporations with copyrights to protect have a very dim view of torrent use. Downloaders are treated with the same suspicion whether their activity is legitimate or not.

This is yet another reason to consider employing a VPN for all your internet use. You may have fared well so far, but there is no telling who is watching your activity waiting for an opportune time to take action.

 

Sources:

  1. https://www.pcmag.com/roundup/354396/the-best-vpns-for-bittorrent
  2. https://globalnews.ca/news/4933339/lawsuits-movie-downloading-uploading/

How to Hide your IP Address in Vuze

The BitTorrent application once known as Azureus continues to be a popular choice as many are attracted by its slick interface and wealth of features.

Follow the directions below to hide your real IP from other BitTorrent users as well as companies that use advanced tracking software to spy on users who download certain torrents.

Step 1

From the top menu go to Tools > Options

Step 2

Make sure “Mode” is selected at the left pane inside the Options window.

Under “User Proficiency” click on the radio button marked “Advanced.” This will give you access to proxy options not available when the lower levels of user proficiency are enabled.

vuze-proxy1

Step 3

Click on the small arrow next to “Connection” in the left pane. This item will expand to reveal subsections. Click on “Proxy” (listed under “Connection”).

vuze-proxy2

In the main part of the window under the label “Tracker Communications” click on the checkbox next to “Enable proxying of tracker communications (restart required).”

Further below under “Peer Communications” click on the checkbox next to “Enable proxying of peer communications (outgoing connections only) (restart required).”

Don’t restart yet; do that later after you’ve entered the required values in the Proxy window.

Step 4

To continue with this step you’ll need to determine which proxy host you’d like to use.

For testing purposes I used a SOCKS v5 host I found on socks-proxy.net, and while this is adequate for very small files the speeds are much slower than paid services.

If you plan on hiding your IP in Vuze on a regular basis and are interested in larger files like most people (movies, music, software), you’ll need to sign up with a VPN service.

Recommended services:

Enter the information provided by a site that lists proxy host IPs (and ports). As a sample to give you a good idea of what you need to enter, I’ve entered the required fields using a publicly available host from Russia in the screenshot.

vuze-proxy2

Most users will want to want to “use the same proxy settings for tracker and peer communications proxy”, so make sure this is checked under “Peer Communications.”

After you’d entered the required info remember to click on the “Save” button in the lower left of the window.

Step 5

Now you can safely restart the software.

Go to File > Restart Vuze (just above Exit).

All Done

That’s it! You’re now ready to start downloading. Load in a torrent and see what kind of speeds you’re able to get.