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Author Topic: BitTorrent Study Finds Most File-Sharers Are Monitored  (Read 1021 times)

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BitTorrent Study Finds Most File-Sharers Are Monitored
« on: 01. November 2012., 06:43:23 »
Illegal downloaders are likely to be monitored "within hours" - 4 September 2012

Anyone using file-sharing service BitTorrent to download the latest film or music release is likely to be monitored, UK-based researchers suggest.

A Birmingham University study indicates that an illegal file-sharer downloading popular content would be logged by a monitoring firm within three hours.

The team said it was "surprised" by the scale of the monitoring.

Copyright holders could use the data to crack down on illegal downloads.

The three-year research was carried out by a team of computer scientists who developed software that acted like a BitTorrent file-sharing client and logged all the connections made to it.

BitTorrent is a method of obtaining files by downloading from many users at the same time.

The logs revealed that monitoring did not distinguish between hardcore illegal downloaders and those new to it.

"You don't have to be a mass downloader. Someone who downloads a single movie will be logged as well," said Dr Tom Chothia, who led the research.

"If the content was in the top 100 it was monitored within hours," he said. "Someone will notice and it will be recorded."

Less popular content was also monitored although less frequently, the study indicated.

Marketing tool
The research identified about 10 different monitoring firms logging content. Of these, a handful were identifiable as copyright-enforcement organisations, security firms and even other research labs.

But about six of the biggest-scale monitors were harder to identify, as the companies behind them used third-party hosting firms to run the searches for them.

Why such firms wanted the massive amounts of data was unclear, said Dr Chothia.

"Many firms are simply sitting on the data. Such monitoring is easy to do and the data is out there so they think they may as well collect it as it may be valuable in future," he said.

Some firms alleged to be carrying out mass-scale monitoring have been accused of selling the data to copyright holders for marketing purposes.

"The data shows what content is popular and where," said Dr Chothia.

The study also revealed that so-called blocklists, used by some illegal file-sharers to prevent monitors from connecting to their computers, might not be much use.

"Many of the monitors we found weren't on the blocklists so these measures to bypass the monitors aren't really working," said Dr Chothia. Chantel says: That's makes the use of PeerGuardian/PeerBlock a false sense of security. Sadly, many people swear by it. To protect oneself simply don't use Demonoid - oh Demonoid has died. Smiliey

Hard evidence
Some copyright owners in Europe and the US are using IP addresses gathered by monitoring firms to apply for court orders obliging internet service providers to hand over the physical addresses associated with them.

They are then writing to individuals seeking recompense or warning of the possibility of court action.

But Dr Chothia doubts evidence gathered in this manner would stand up in court.

"All the monitors observed during the study would connect to file-sharers and verify that they were running the BitTorrent software, but they would not actually collect any of the files being shared," he said.

"It is questionable whether the monitors observed would actually have evidence of file-sharing that would stand up in court," he added.

Lawyers have previously cast doubt on whether evidence collected from an IP address can be used in court because such an address pinpoints the internet connection used for downloading rather than a specific individual.


Anti-Piracy Blocklists Don’t Keep BitTorrent Spies Out - 4 September 2012

In a new paper titled “The Unbearable Lightness of Monitoring: Direct Monitoring in BitTorrent,” researchers from the University of Birmingham try quantify this problem.

The researchers developed a methodology to detect which “peers” in a swarm are likely to be anti-piracy monitors. The research looked at 60 public torrent files and over a period of time they found 856 peers (on 5 subnets) that showed strong characteristics of monitoring agencies.

This data allowed them to compare their findings to the IP-addresses that are blocked by the popular i-Blocklist blocklist, to see how effective it is at keeping BitTorrent spies out.

Perhaps not surprisingly the blocklists doesn’t offer complete security. 69% of the IP-addresses of monitoring companies were blocked, but the other 31% were not. In other words, nearly one in three logging attempts bypassed the blocklist.

“Our direct monitoring analysis produced 593 peers (out of 856) that appear in subnets listed in the Anti-Infringement list. In addition, our analysis identifies 263 peers that, albeit displaying the same behaviour as monitoring peers do not currently appear in blocklists,” the researchers write.

“BitTorrent users should therefore not rely solely on such speculative blocklists to protect their privacy,” they add, suggesting that these BitTorrent users should add blocklists based on empirical research.

In addition to examining the effectiveness of i-Blocklist, the researchers also identified the prevalence of indirect versus direct detection methods.

In the past, indirect methods – where monitoring companies obtain lists of IP-addresses without connecting to the downloaders – have been heavily criticized. The main problem is that these lead to a high number of false accusations. For example, research has shown that due to shoddy techniques even a network printer can be accused of sharing copyrighted files on BitTorrent.

In the paper the researchers found that direct methods – where the anti-piracy group confirms that downloaders are actually sharing – are also widely used now. Their paper is first to provide evidence of direct monitoring, suggesting that monitoring companies are upping their accuracy.

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BitTorrent Study Finds Most File-Sharers Are Monitored
« on: 01. November 2012., 06:43:23 »


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Re: BitTorrent Study Finds Most File-Sharers Are Monitored
« Reply #1 on: 02. November 2012., 15:30:35 »
No surprise there. This study relates that in addition to all the gov/law enforcement monitoring that many of us believe exists even for so called anonymous proxy services and other end user masking techniques, the data miners are also in the game.


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Re: BitTorrent Study Finds Most File-Sharers Are Monitored
« Reply #2 on: 14. January 2014., 10:42:21 »
Forgot / missed this article. Thought it was worth a bump  :angel:

I'm surprised that the blocklist tools don't work either. It would have been nice if they would keep the software project running and SHARE them IP's of them Hollywood agencies so the blocklists add to security once more.

And I must admit: I'm still surprised, even after NSA confirmations, that one is monitored so quickly. Luckily I almost never like the Big Blockbusters and what I watch, I watch streaming ( - CHECK it OUT: ). And the only popular top 10 downloads I do are MS Office & MS Windows. Luckily, the 90s learned Microsoft what Privacy is. No worries there!

No karma still ;p

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