What is torrent encryption and does it make my traffic anonymous?

  • This question is inspired by this article (in Russian) about a website called I Know What You Download. From what I understand, they scan the DHT networks and display torrents that any given IP participated in, and although it is sometimes inaccurate, it can provide data on Internet usage, and thus presents a threat to anonymity.

    Most people suggest using VPN in order to conceal torrent traffic. However, in another article (also in Russian) same author shares his experience with torrenting over VPN set in Azure. Apparently, he received DMCA notice for torrenting a film (author specifically notes that he did not fully download the film, and everything was done for the sake of experiment). They provided the name and the size of the file, along with IP address and port.

    But, some (if not all) torrent-sharing programs have an encryption feature. For instance, Tixati can even enforce encryption for both incoming and outgoing connections:

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    Question is: what does this feature encrypt? Name of the file, its contents, size? Could it prevent DMCA notices? If not, what does it actually do?

    Related: the answer there mentions encryption — does this kind of encryption count?

    Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.

    Do not go to "I know what you download", it tried to force me to download an extension

    Short answer: It is useless for privacy. Back years ago when ISPs first started throttling it managed to bypass some of it, but it's been ineffective for years now. Just use it "enabled" - so you can connect to both encrypted ad unencrypted.

  • Ivan

    Ivan Correct answer

    4 years ago

    Think of it like an underground fight club. Encrypting the traffic means nobody on the outside can see you enter or leave, but once you're inside, everybody there knows who you are and can monitor your participation.

    This feature is really only useful if you have an ISP that blocks torrent traffic. Encrypting it means it doesn't appear to be torrent traffic, it's just an encrypted stream, but once you get past the ISP and connect to the swarm everybody else participating knows exactly who you are and what you're doing.

    So, this makes it safe when the government uses the ISPs to track traffic?

    Wouldn't it be more accurate to say : "Anybody on the outside can see you enter or leave but doesn't know what you are doing. Once you're inside, everybody there can monitor your participation."? Encryption doesn't hide to who you are connecting. It just protects the content.

    If that's the only way the government in question is tracking it, maybe @J.C.Leitão. In particular, a government could even host a version of the file with a torrent client supporting encryption, and then they would be able to fully see who all was downloading it no matter what.

    @Gudradain Yes, it is, but it breaks my analogy :)

    Also, if your ISP is clever enough, the regular "encrypted only" approach won't even stop them from noticing and blocking it as torrent traffic. I've implemented a similar system for a school WiFi system, and it worked as far as I could test.

    @akaltar it is an arms race.

    @Johnny Technically, real life has the same problem: anyone on the outside *can* see you enter and leave an . Fixing it (with the truth) would also fix the analogy. (Also, no, I've never seen fight club.)

    But... Isn't the first rule of the Torrent : "You do not talk about the Torrent ?". This is the best encryption

    @Ivan, What about torrent **VPN**? Is it completely safe?

    It doesn't take a government spy to enter the club though, with torrent pretty much anyone would be able to enter the building to join the club, as membership to the club is open to anyone and there's no bouncer to keep "unwanted" people out.

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Content dated before 7/24/2021 11:53 AM

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