How To Protect Your BitTorrent Privacy

OK, you're using BitTorrent. We're not going to judge. But we are going to give you a few simple reminders on how to keep your torrenting activity as private as possible.

Don't Use The Pirate Bay

Think of the Pirate Bay like the red light district: it's impossible to shut down, but if the law are looking to bust some heads, that's probably where they'll start. And copyright trolls are some particularly unimaginative cops.

Instead, try to get access to some of the closed torrent communities. Places like Demonoid or IPTorrents aren't as isolated as they once were, but they're way safer than the Pirate Bay or IsoHunt. They're invite-only, but invites aren't too hard to come by. Ask around, and one of your techy friends will probably have one to throw your way. Beyond that, always, always, always read the comments to check for warnings about not just pirate-tracking files embedded by nerd hunters, but potential malware.

Use a Proxy

Hiding your IP address using a proxy is one of those nerdspeak tasks that sounds a lot more intimidating than it really is. The jargon breaks down to, essentially, using the cutoff man in baseball. Except with internet connections instead of shortstops. To use it with torrents, all you've got to do is go to any number of lists of public proxies and paste the address into the Proxy field of your BitTorrent client. Or for a small fee, you can just use a ready-to-use service like the popular BTGuard, which does all the work for you. You literally just download and run the app, enter your login information, and then run your torrent. That simple. (Lifehacker has a good guide to using BitGuard if you want more detail.)

You can take this a step further by using a virtual private network (VPN), which BTGuard also offers. VPNs essentially do what the proxy does, but for all of your online actions. That's probably a little excessive for spot-pirating of a bit of software, but if you're worried about anyone tracking what you're doing on the web, it's something to look into.

The downside is that there is an additional point of failure for your connection. That's not too much of a concern most of the time, as stable servers are usually just fine, and more automated options will adjust on the fly. But it's something to think about.

Adjust Your BitTorrent Settings

Generally speaking, your ISP doesn't give a single damn about copyright violations going on in torrent transfers. It just cares about the massive spike in your bandwidth, and what it can do to to stop it. If it can prove you're using BitTorrent, it'll just throttle the crap out of your connection. Choosing to force encryption in your BitTorrent app's preferences will make it harder to pin you down. The downside is that it also precludes you from connecting to other BT users who aren't using encryption. Many don't, but you should think of it like a pirating condom. Better safe than sorry.

You also might want to consider easing back on your max upload speeds. Traditional torrenting protocol says you should cap your max download speed at about 80 per cent of your connection's maximum download speed, and your upload speed at about 10-20 per cent of that. You can crank either up if you want, but limiting how much you upload can also limit your exposure to being caught.

Do Not Seed

Yeah, yeah. This is where all the hardcore torrenters will come for my head. But listen up: This guide is about not getting caught. Not your online reputation, not the health of the torrent community. Plain and simple, the easiest way to get caught for torrenting is by seeding.

When you're using BitTorrent, you are constantly uploading and downloading data from other users. "Seeding" is when you've finished downloading, and continue to upload to others. It's good manners, but it's also a bullseye on your head. That's what the lawyer zombie packs are really after. They'll try to pin the wider distribution charges on you if you're caught. And if you don't seed, you're in killzone for a much shorter amount of time.


Comments

    You forgot the simple answer: dont use torrents...

      or disconnect the internet

        Private Internet Access VPN http://bitly.com/privateinternetaccessvpn is a good choice for torrent downloaders as it has servers in more than 60 countries across the world, so finding a server in a country close-by for maximum transfer speeds should be easy. In fact, it had some great speedtest results, which when combined with highly secure 256-bit encryption, makes it ideal for downloading and performing other Internet activities that you wish to keep private.

        Last edited 15/06/16 1:02 am

          Private internet access would never be smart choice, specifically to downloading torrenting you need some military grad encryption with fastest speed.

      Or set yourself on fire.

        That's not simple at all. Getting a lighter, finding flammable materials, kinda hard work.

          You kidding me bro? Everybody has a gas hob in their house.

          I've been using HideMyAss https://www.hidemyass.com/vpn/r20533/ for torrenting for 3 months now. OpenVPN is very stable and has high throughput. L2TP not so much. I'm using the Netherlands landing point as it seem to be faster then the Austria ones. Torrents work very well

          Last edited 13/03/16 3:59 pm

      I was totally out and down when I saw different list of providers then I discussion torrenting problem with my friend and he told me that I should use best vpn for torrenting and P2P file sharing - Ivacyvpn I am sharing the source with you people it is just $1.83/month https://www.ivacy.com/torrent-vpn/

      Last edited 04/03/16 8:52 pm

      I have have just subscribed to VyprVPN http://bitly.com/Vyprvpn
      it worked well for me and my streaming/torrents is faster to download. I only took a month's service but I'll be switching to the $5/m for 1 year.

      Last edited 11/04/16 3:05 am

    DO NOT SEED <-- sound advice ! but yes not very friendly

      Not very good for private torrents that only allow people to sign in once you show proof that you can maintain a good D:U ratio. A number of gaming torrent websites are notorious for this.

      I have been using PureVPN for 2 years now, and found it quite reliable and fast VPN service. 4.16/month for year is what I pay. I have used it for torrents and it works very well. I am getting maximum of 25Mb/s speed with PureVPN https://www.purevpn.com/

      Last edited 15/03/16 5:07 pm

    As if their gona prosecute individuals, good luck!

    "The jargon breaks down to, essentially, using the cutoff man in baseball. Except with internet connections instead of shortstops."

    I have no idea what that means.

      Replacing computer jargon with baseball jargon has not helped me, and never will.

      cutoff = relay
      baseball = cricket
      shortstops = mid-wicket.

      If you're still struggling, go play outside once in a while. It's good for you.

        As an American, the cricket reference is just one more thing for me to not unerstand.

      Thankfully, we all know what a proxy is.

    Mark, not all torrents are illegal, open source software is often distributed via torrents.

      The title of the article was How to pirate software without getting caught.

    BTgaurd slows down the torrent so much you might as well wait for the t-shirt!

    Is this encouraging piracy?

      Does teaching kids about protection encourage sex? The answer is yes and no.

    I've heard using Blocklist Manager and updating your ipfilter file (say if you use uTorrent) is sufficient enough. Can anyone comment on this?

      Not sufficient enough.

    Yes private trackers are great!
    I'm on BTN for tv / what.cd for music / IPT for general / passthepopcorn for movie
    the only bad thing is keeping a ratio, which i use a seedbox for.
    Also if you use a seedbox 10 bux a month you won't get caught if you download the torrent to your seedbox then from your seebox to home.

    Use a sneaker net.

    I trade with trusted friends via hard-drives Its quicker then torrenting/p2p and I'll never get caught. Who can get download a 1TB of material in a few hours?

    Besides if you're in Australia its clear from the High Courts ruling that there is absolutely nothing that Copyright Owners can present to an ISP in order to for your personal details to be given. In fact of the R20 (list of IP's used during the case as examples of users infringing) some of the IP addressees were found to be in Class C's not even broadcasted by iiNet. Basically even the private dicks that the MIPAA and AFACT are employing don't even know how to do a lookup.

    Considering the huge cost and backlash of going to a court to get details of a user its completely unlikely that they'll go for an individual. Australia is not like the US where it costs nothing to sue someone and where there is a massive oversupply of lawyers. When it comes to costs (awarded etc). There is a high risk that even if they got your private details and sue'd you for copyright infringement that they'd lose the case and worse still, even if they won some of the arguments they might not get 100% of their costs.

    Lastly I think the community would financially support those poor victims and you'd see tens of thousand poored into their legal funds. I know I would financially support anyone sued by AFACT. The copyright Ninja's would rapidly see the Pirates banding together against them.

    I've said it before if we want the status quo to change then we change our behaviours. Stop watching Free-to-Air television and stop going to the cinemas. With Free-to-Air broadcasters no longer able to buy exclusive licences for television shows the US content producers will be forced to sell their content via the internet thus dropping this Geo/Cock blocking that only exists to protect the duopolies that exist in the television markets of each country.

    The same with cinema's and the schedule that dictate when a film is released to bluray etc.

      Sneakernet is all good, but where does that content come from in the first place? Someone has to download it, either illegally or legally but then sharing legal content makes it illegal.

        content is distributed via legal channels then copied. For example I still purchase content like $10 blurays. I RIP those blurays and then trade them to my friends for content that they may have ripped or that someone else ripped. I know of people overseas and we send discs and other media that customs and such no ability to read.

        Also when using Australia post for things like this I always use a fake name. Same as when I use Silk-Road.

        There is a huge amount of media out there that has no to little DRM (nothing that can't be defeated). In fact I know people who make rips from analogue medias. Far superior to the digital releases versions. For example I've been hanging out for the DVD Star Wars release that has the original movies without the added scenes in them. Definitely worth having those. They're like the laser disc but at 480p 16:9 with DTS (here's hoping on that bit).

      OMG! Good old Sneakernet!

      Back in the days were things were so simple and there was no complication of hackers or law enforcement tracking your data packets to find out who you are, where you live and what content you were downloading. Why can't people just share quietly amungst themselves anymore? It's so easy to visit a friend and copy some files safely. But people still tend to sit at home, be antisocial and download all their entertainment despite it being illegal. Just seems that people would rather risk the penalties instead of asking their friends.

      It's a sad sad world we live in.

    Is it really that big of a deal? I download pretty regularly, get all the UFC's and the odd movie here and there, so should I even bother? I've always thought this type of protection was for the 'serious' downloaders

    i use torrentday. private and invite only. not easy to get an invite unless u feel like "donating"

    Newsgroups

    magnets ftw imo...

    If you can't get access to a closed torrent community, what about using tor (torproject.org) to visit torrent sites?

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