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New Tribler BitTorrent Client adds a Tor Network for Anonymity

by on03 September 2014 3118 times

The words anonymity, privacy and security go hand in hand… in hand. Although the term anonymity is often seen as a bad thing by law enforcement and policy makers the truth is that it is a critical part of the security chain and is something that needs to be addressed in the way communications happen over the internet. Simply put, how can an attacker get to you if they do not know where you are coming from? Anonymity is a form of security that is in common use by the “red” team so why not put this to use in protecting the green?

That appears to be the thoughts behind a new system developed by researchers at the Delft University of Technology. They have pushed out a public beta of a new, anonymous, BitTorrent client called Tribler. What Tribler does is to allow you to share files through BitTorrent without exposing your IP address to the rest of the cloud.

Although certainly not new (Tribler has been around for about 10 years) Tribler has become more and more sophisticated over its lifetime and is viewed as the only decentralized BitTorrent client available. This means that you do not need tracker sites to grab files, you just need the swarm to ensure that you can share what you want to.

Of course, as we have seen the copyright lobby is all too aware of the way BitTorrent works and has gone so far as to catalog IP addresses in BitTorrent swarms for high-profile files. These IPs are then used to send out mass settlement letters to ISPs. These IP addresses can also be used to target members of the swarm for more aggressive measures including a form of DDoS that is designed to prevent the proper sharing of the file in question.

This tactic has pushed many to use VPN connections or proxy services to mask their actual IP, but these have varying levels of effectiveness. You can backtrack a VPN connection to its source and we have seen a live demo of tracking someone through a standard proxy service so that is not really a solid or failsafe form of protection.

In the new version of Tribler researchers hope to change that b adding in Tor to the client. This forces the client to route traffic through other peers via encrypted proxies. This means that IP addresses of the members of a swarm are not easily visible to each other and it makes the job of trying to figure out who is sharing what much more difficult.

In the beta version of the anonymous Tribler client you get three levels of proxies between you and the swarm, but this could increase as the client matures. By having three it means that the chances of being tracked by a single bad proxy are very slim. Each proxy encrypts that data and you (the original client) are the only one that can (easily) decrypt the data.

Before you rush out and grab this, remember it is in the beta stages and appears to be limited in the amount of data that you can download using this client (50MB test file). This first round of testing is to ensure that concept works on a large scale and to remove any obvious bugs in the system. You also need to remember that you will also become a layer in the proxy chain and will see your bandwidth usage go up accordingly. Still even with these minor issues, it is good to see the use of encryption and IP masking technologies going into more and more systems.

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Grab the Tribler beta

Last modified on 03 September 2014
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