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BitTorrent and End to End Encryption 494

An anonymous reader writes "As ISPs like Shaw and Rogers throttle their bandwidth to counter the growth of BitTorrent, BitTorrent developers are fighting back with end to end encryption. Oddly enough, Bram Cohen, the original brains behind BitTorrent, doesn't support this direction. Is there really anything he can do about it?"
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BitTorrent and End to End Encryption

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  • by takeya ( 825259 ) on Monday February 06, 2006 @06:19PM (#14654803) Journal
    The bigger problem is customers paying their ISPs, many of whom hold a local monopoly, and then the ISPs go around and turn their backs on the customers, leaving them without services like bittorrent that have a clear and growing legal use. Perhaps a boycott of ISPs that do that would be in order... except for that whole monopoly thing.
    • by Dr. Evil ( 3501 ) on Monday February 06, 2006 @06:21PM (#14654827)

      ISPs are happy to lose those customers.

      • One thing I've done since I switched away from a packet shaping network is told all my non-geeky friends who are deciding what service to get to STAY AWAY from it [Eastlink] and switch to the good guys in my area [Aliant].

        Maybe we can hurt these companies through word of mouth.
        • STAY AWAY from it [Eastlink] and switch to the good guys in my area [Aliant].

          I don't want to start a flamewar, but Aliant's traffic shaping (in New Brunswick, anyway) policies are what made me drop all of their services, including phone services, in favour of Rogers.
      • by Shinaku ( 757671 ) on Monday February 06, 2006 @07:00PM (#14655206) Homepage
        No.. No they're not. My ISP, TalkTalk, lied about the service they were providing me - even after I enquiered about p2p (GNUtella, Bittorrent) which they assured were totally unrestricted, they were quite happy to sign me up to a 12 month contract and totally restrict all traffic from the p2p clients. Don't worry, I've complained about a month ago and I'm intending to get out with out paying theur £70 cancellation fee. This is for users like me, who have been screwed over by greedy ISPs. And I welcome our new encripted overlords.
      • I'd say that a significant number of users use p2p type stuff. Everyone I know at work uses some type of p2p software... eventually it will be impossible to restrict users of p2p unless you cut off all your users.

    • by LunaticTippy ( 872397 ) on Monday February 06, 2006 @06:24PM (#14654866)
      The ISPs will simply throttle anything encrypted unless it pays extra, or something similar. If we accept this situation, or find short-term workarounds it will become worse and worse.

      My connection is severly throttled by my pathetic aDSL upload speed, but that's another bitch entirely.

      • by Yaztromo ( 655250 ) on Monday February 06, 2006 @06:35PM (#14654971) Homepage Journal
        The ISPs will simply throttle anything encrypted unless it pays extra, or something similar.

        And how is the ISP supposed to be able to detect the difference between encrypted and non-encrypted binary data? What detection routine do you use to detect between, say, encrypted BitTorrent data, unencrypted VOIP data, an FTP file transfer, and random data?

        Traditionally, you can filter the ports -- but nothing prevents software from changing what ports it uses, and there are several applications which can handle a dynamic port exchange. How barring just blocking or filtering on specific ports, how do you detect that data is encrypted, when the purpose of encryption is to make the data appear to be random to an outside adversary?


        • by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 06, 2006 @06:54PM (#14655162)
          Traffic analysis systems are available that detect traffic *patterns*. The determining factor for what defines traffic as being VoIP, or Bittorrent, is the patterns flows follow. For instance, a VoIP connection is a very consistent stream of data to one host, where anything file sharing related will be far from smooth, and will be talking to many hosts.

          Even in the case of changing ports, this is easily detected. I work for a medium sized broadband ISP, and we extensively use the layer7 module for iptable which detects flow type based off of a "fingerprint" of traffic; a fingerprint simply being made up of several unique characteristics of a particular packet type.
          • For instance, a VoIP connection is a very consistent stream of data to one host, where anything file sharing related will be far from smooth, and will be talking to many hosts.

            Unless, of course, that VOIP service is Skype, which uses a peer-to-peer protocol to multi-route packets.


        • by interiot ( 50685 ) on Monday February 06, 2006 @07:00PM (#14655204) Homepage
          Answer: Easy.

          As TFA notes: encrypted or not, you're still pushing a massive amount of upload and download traffic. That in itself is enough to get noticed.

          Second, the more data there is to analyze, the easier it becomes to distinguish noise from data.

          Third, Again as TFA notes, if a lot of connections are being made, they can analyze the first chunk of data sent by both sides. If it's an unencrypted connection, you'll see a roughly consistent set of data being sent across at the beginning. If even the headers are encrypted, and you use BitTorrent a lot, eventually it will be pretty obvious.

          • As TFA notes: encrypted or not, you're still pushing a massive amount of upload and download traffic. That in itself is enough to get noticed.

            Bzzt! nice try! you get to leave with the home game!

            Bittorrent is not a massive upload but a tiny upload typically throttled pretty good with a massive download.

            That looks like itunes use, Streaming video use, etc.. Those services that they like to toute are the reasaon to buy your broadband!

            Granted they can look at source IP's and only allow high speed from "blesse
        • by Anonymous Coward
          Similar discussion [] has taken place at the gnutella developer forum, and the client gtk-gnutella already has encryption in place for the same purpose.

          This post [] describes how ISP filters peer to peer gnutella traffic. To quote:

          CableVision, for example, is known to drop incoming Gnutella connections and Gnutella HTTP requests. This has absolutely nothing to do with port filtering. You can easily verify this by modifying your HTTP request. Something like "GET /uri-res/N2R?u
        • There's MUCH more to bandwidth management than just blocking ports. Modern bandwidth management solutions go past layer 3 and detect which applications are running across a network flow.

          Even if a system can't understand the data being transmitted, there's a good chance that the system can understand either what type of encryption is being used, what application is sending the data, or even both.

          In order for applications to communicate they need a well-documented set of rules for communications. Open Sou

        • And how is the ISP supposed to be able to detect the difference between encrypted and non-encrypted binary data? By performing a MITM attack during the public key exchange when any connection is first established (the details of the exchange necessarily being part of the bittorrent protocol). The ISP is perfectly situated in terms of routing to do this and because keys must be exchanged early on in the session there is probably not too much overhead associated with doing so on a large scale (i.e. for many
          • Man in the middle doesn't work against Public Key Crypto.

            Alice wants to send an encrypted message to Bob, so she encrypts her message with Bob's public key. Thereafter, the only way to decrypt the message is using Bob's private key. Since the private key never gets exchanged, the ISP never sees it, and therefore cannot decrypt the message. When Bob wants to send Alice a response, he encrypts it with her public key, which makes the message decryptable only with Alice's private key (which she never sent).
        • by jambarama ( 784670 ) <> on Monday February 06, 2006 @07:39PM (#14655501) Homepage Journal
          I am sorry to say that the growing trend to throttle bittorrent is not based entirely on issues of piracy (although it is somewhat to blame). Many ISP's main reason for this is quality of service. While you may not intend to suck up all of the bandwidth that your ISP has, Bit torrent is notorious for sucking up bandwidth. Bit torrent has a rather poorly designed (for packet efficiency) protocol. It is terrific for other things, but not packet efficiency.

          Bit torrent has the problem of opening a lot of connections (the larger the torrent storm, the more connections). While each of these connections to other seeders/leechers may only be passing small amounts of information, they tend to take up a lot of the routers memory (especially for very slow connections that stay open even though they don't pass much if not any information). This kills a router. You might not ever notice it at your own home but having a lot of people on torrents can take drop a router, and make the internet slow for all of the other users using your ISP.

          While I don't agree with the actions of these ISPs I thought others might want to know other reasons for throttling this type of bandwidth. As for breaking this throttling your options is very limited. Most ISPs use a layer2 packet shaper, which has the ability to determine the actual content of a packet regardless of port. This is quite common these days.

          As far as I know the only real option to get around it requires that you have a server outside of your ISP's network. If you have such a server or a friend somewhere with a nice fast connection (up and down), you would need to set up a tunnel. On top of that you would most likely need to setup a secure tunnel to avoid the packet shaper from understanding the packet data. You can do this using an SSH tunnel, or you can try to setup a site to site VPN tunnel (both of which you would want encrypted). Doing these things is not easy tasks and requires a fair amount of knowledge concerning the way networks works. There are several how-to's discussing how to setup a VPN tunnel and/or SSH tunnel.

          Like I said these are not for the novice. It would however be a great opportunity to learn quite a bit more about networks than even the more network savvy people. Chances are most people are just going to have to live without torrent, or switch to a provider that doesn't throttle torrent activity.
      • Riiight... so the ISPs are gonna throttle HTTPS? What about SFTP transfers? Hell, what about POPS and SMTPS? Because there's no way, in principle, to tell the difference between these (legitimate) protocols and an encrypted (supposedly illegitimate) BitTorrent stream.

        • Riiight... so the ISPs are gonna throttle HTTPS? What about SFTP transfers? Hell, what about POPS and SMTPS? Because there's no way, in principle, to tell the difference between these (legitimate) protocols and an encrypted (supposedly illegitimate) BitTorrent stream.
          Wrong. You still have the packet headers.
          • Uhhh, once the encrypted session is negotiated, the only in-the-clear headers are the IP/TCP headers. Moreover, SSL negotiations all look the same, so if the implementers were to use SSL (which I don't think they do... but that's a mistake, IMHO), then there would be no way to tell one SSL-encrypted session from another.
  • Wrong Solution (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Hatta ( 162192 ) on Monday February 06, 2006 @06:20PM (#14654816) Journal
    The proper solution when your ISP is deliberately crippling your service is to get another ISP. You paid for that torrent traffic, and if they don't carry it that's as good as stealing. Let your ISP know how you feel, and don't do business with crooks.
    • Re:Wrong Solution (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Mrs. Grundy ( 680212 )
      Your suggestion assumes that everyone has a choice about their ISP. There are still many places in this country where broadband access is only available through one or two local monopolies.
    • Re:Wrong Solution (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Hrothgar The Great ( 36761 ) on Monday February 06, 2006 @06:29PM (#14654907) Journal
      Most people have only one or two choices for ISPs, and MAYBE three if they're lucky. In my area, I have one cable provider, one telco providing DSL, and I think there's some satellite company that is expensive and has extremely horrid bandwidth. Basically, your cute idea that everyone should just up and switch ISPs is a pipe dream at best.
      • A lot of people live in rural areas, and don't have anything. Not even dial up. On /., you don't hear a lot from these types, but they're out there.

        I live in an area where the best I've got is dial-up (and 28.8k at that). Once an ISP gets out here, I'll be the first to switch to them. ON ONE CONDITION: They allow bittorrent traffic.
        Seriously, everyone I know who has gotten broadband has done so for P2P. Warez kiddies ^W^WLinux distro hunters are the cable companies biggest subscribers.
        They are shootin

      • From time to time, I consider whether we should start building our own wireless mesh intranets. If we pool our resources and create a filesharing network, it would be just like the internet, but with the /freedom/. Out here in the desert with no broadband, even a small one would be an incredible resource. Heck, it is suprising that I can see the neighbor's access point 500 feet away.
      • by tachyonflow ( 539926 ) * on Monday February 06, 2006 @08:36PM (#14655912) Homepage
        Most people have only one or two choices for ISPs, and MAYBE three if they're lucky. In my area, I have one cable provider, one telco providing DSL, and I think there's some satellite company that is expensive and has extremely horrid bandwidth.

        Keep in mind that in many areas, there are lots of ISPs that can provide you with DSL service. This service is provided by either 1) using the telco's DSLAMs and ATM networks to connect your home to the ISP (the most common method), or 2) using ISP-owned DSLAM equipment co-located at the central office (Speakeasy/Covad, various local ISPs). If you're just using the telco to move your bits across town to the ISP, I doubt the telco is going to bother traffic shaping your data.

        I mention this because I think a lot of people don't realize there are more DSL options than just the local telco's internet service. When you go to the telco's home page, they certainly don't go out of their way to let you know about this. There are lots of small and regional ISPs that would love to have your business.

        The biggest problem you might encounter with DSL is that many telcos require you to subscribe to phone service before they'll allow you to subscribe to DSL. I know this is definitely the case in BellSouth territory. I've heard that you used to be able to get a "dry copper" (i.e. "alarm circuit") DSL line to an ISP in BellSouth territory (a friend of mine used to have this sort of hookup in Oxford, Miss.), but they've since put an end to that. Where I live (Denver, Colorado), the telco (Qwest) does offer "Naked DSL" so you don't have to bother with a landline if you don't want one.

        I have DSL with a local ISP who runs their own DSLAMs in my neighborhood, and it works out well.


    • And what do you propose that a person do if they only have one choice for broadband ISP?

      Even throttled broadband is better than dialup.

    • Oh yeah, everybody would love to just stick it to their local monopoly; be it cable, telephone, or broadband but sadly there are often no competitors for their services. In many places the town's zoning regulations prohibit competitors (it's how you got the service in the first place!) and unless you move you have little choice in the matter. The short range on DSL is the biggest problem. Unlike cable, there are often competitors with better service and/or better prices for DSL service. With Cable or Fi
    • Re:Wrong Solution (Score:4, Informative)

      by TheSpoom ( 715771 ) * <> on Monday February 06, 2006 @06:30PM (#14654925) Homepage Journal
      Good thinking. Except there are two companies that run the high-speed lines here, Rogers and Bell. Ignoring the fact that Bell Sympatico DSL is quite slower than my tier of cable for a moment, what happens if Bell also filters Bittorrent? Are you suggesting that the appropriate course of action then would be to move?

      On a more practical note, use port 1720 (used by Rogers' own VoIP digital phone service, so they can't and don't deep packet filter it) and if that doesn't work (remember to restart your client and forward ports accordingly) try BitComet [] with the encrypted header option. Worked fine for me after a bit of fiddling.
    • Yeah, except that as another poster pointed out monopolies are often a problem. Where do you go when there is no other ISP?

      In my situation (Kitchener, Canada), it's a little weird. Rogers is one option, Bell Sympatico (yes, that's Bell the phone company) is another. Everyone I know who has used Rogers at all dislikes the company. Everyone I know who has used Bell in the last year dislikes the company. There are numerous resellers that fundamentally are just Bell Sympatico. And Bell and Rogers are working to
    • Also because (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Sycraft-fu ( 314770 ) on Monday February 06, 2006 @06:37PM (#14654991)
      If Bittorrent goes out of it's way to become unthrottleable and hard to detect, it will lead to it being outright banned in many places, and the ban enforced through more draconian means.

      Like here on campus, we would prefer not to tell people what they can and can't do, however bandwidth is finite. We cannot afford to buy gigs and gigs of bandwidth just to allow people to P2P all the time, at least not without a tuition hike. The solution is to use a packet shaper, which puts P2P at a lower priority than other traffic. Usually, the line isn't maxed so P2P works as normal, however if the connection is slammed, non P2P traffic gets prefernce.

      Works very well, P2P works and is generally very fast, and other traffic doesn't get bogged.

      However, if it starts hiding from the packet shaper, things may be made a bit more compulsory like "You will make no use of Bittorrent unless it is for an approved research project. Failure to comply will result in a referal to the dean of students and possibly expulsion." Now I'd hate to see it go that way, but it will if it there's no reasonable way to keep P2P from clogging the network.
    • WRONG assumptions. (Score:4, Interesting)

      by C10H14N2 ( 640033 ) on Monday February 06, 2006 @08:27PM (#14655861)
      If you have a _residential_ contract, you are distinctly _NOT_ being given an unlimited, dedicated 4.5Mb/s connection for $49. If you want to run a 24/7 hog like Bittorrent, purchase a business plan with guaranteed bandwidth and uptime, no port blocking and no QoS throttling--all stated clearly in the contract and available from all major ISPs.

      They are well within their rights to ensure that everyone paying a certain price is given the same level of service. They're rolling out FIOS here. It can handle 622Mb/s and at $50/month, you get, basically, 1% of that. To not have to implement some kind of QoS throttling on your bandwidth-hogging butt, they'd have to run a separate backbone to every 100 houses and, guess what, that would cost a ton of money. So, voila, tiered pricing.

      Deal with it.
  • by imoou ( 949576 ) on Monday February 06, 2006 @06:20PM (#14654821) Homepage
    Bram said he suspects that some developer has gotten rate limited by his ISP, and is more interested in trying to hack around his ISP's limitations than in the performance of the internet as a whole.

    Isn't this what Open Source is about? The ability to make changes to a software to suit one's need? And if there are enough users, followers, developers and contributors (see Ubuntu from Debian), the new branch because a thing of its own.

    So the day Bram opened his code, BT is subject to the same kind of treatment and only users can decide which way it will go.

    Aren't there cases where someone compiled a BT client to act like a seeder with high ratio but is an ultimate leecher?
    • Your argument about the nature of open source software is true, but there is a major benefit in keeping some standards for the bittorrent protocol. As Cohen warned in his blog, including end-to-end encryption may cause client incompatibilities. In other words, if you are using a build of Bit Torrent which uses this encryption, on any given torrent, you may only be able to share with a fraction of the total seeds and peers. Hopefully those who are working on this encryption scheme will strive for compatib
  • by Anonymous Coward
    "Well, I'm not sure it's such a good idea. Cheeseburgers are delicious, let's go get some."
  • by cerberus4696 ( 765520 ) on Monday February 06, 2006 @06:24PM (#14654863)
    A) no. B) Even if he's really for it, he can't come out and say so, because he's jumped into bed with Hollywood with both feet.
  • by Jon Luckey ( 7563 ) on Monday February 06, 2006 @06:24PM (#14654864)

    "...a wire protocol which transfers a lot of data bidirectionally and consistently looks like line noise with no header is only marginally more difficult to identify then one which uses fixed ports."

    Sounds like a call to camoflage the traffic as several pipes between peers. Not just one tcp/ip connection, but several, with a jitter function to pick which pipe is used at the moment so it does not look consistant
    • How would that prevent it from being lots of bidirectional line noise?
    • You know, that's gonna be a pain to set up with the router unless...

      Opens router config; set port port forwarding on for 1 through 65535.

      What could go wrong? ;)
    • FTA: "...a wire protocol which transfers a lot of data bidirectionally and consistently looks like line noise with no header is only marginally more difficult to identify then one which uses fixed ports." Sounds like a call to camoflage the traffic as several pipes between peers. Not just one tcp/ip connection, but several, with a jitter function to pick which pipe is used at the moment so it does not look consistant

      Assuming that by "pipes" you mean "seperate TCP/IP connections established over severa
  • Bram may not like it, but one of the best things about sharing the source code, is that the 'market' so to speak will determine now where this protocol goes. If Bram doesn't like it, that's his right, but I expect the masses are going to use the program that best offers the features they want. And uTorrent and Azureus are the two 'big boys' on the block right now. And if someone can improve it further on down the road, the whole bittorrent history has shown that users will try it, especially if they aren't happy with the 'old' program they use.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 06, 2006 @06:25PM (#14654875)
    BitTorrent and End to End Encryption

    Who is "End", and why are they partnering with BitTorrent to end encryption?

  • by MrNougat ( 927651 ) <ckratsch@gmail . c om> on Monday February 06, 2006 @06:25PM (#14654876)
    So when I buy an internet connection from an ISP, who says the connection is 4mb down and 256K up, and then I actually want to use all of the bandwidth I have been sold - then the ISP wants to crack down and limit my usage?

    Someone should sue [insert favorite ISP here] for bait and switch. If what they're providing is 4mb/256K burst speed, with lower rates for continuous, then that's what they should say in their advertising. This is hardly a far cry from the shady camera outfits online (i.e. PriceRitePhoto). You pay every month for a service, and the service you're actually provided differs greatly from what you thought you purchased.
    • You pay every month for a service that comes with an AUP. If your application violates the AUP, then your ISP is actually being nice if they only limit your ability to use it. They could chose to block it entirely, or terminate your service contract.

      If your application lies within AUP boundries and other contract terms, then you should get full use. Bear in mind, though, that your payload transfer rates are limited to something less than you may expect, due to header and frame overhead.

      The post mentionin
    • For example, Bellsouth DSL provides plenty of description here:

      Bellsouth FastAccess DSL - Legal Page []

      I'm not saying I'm happy with their provisions, but I'm also thinking that attempting to sue them over these particular greivances may be a bit optimistic.
    • You are correct, except that in the contract you agreed too, they have the right to change terms at any time as they feel fit. Your only permited recourse is to stop service.

      Their lawyers are bigger then yours..

      Unless of course you got business class service with a legally binding TOS contract attached. Then you might have a legal leg to stand on. ( until they just cancel the contract on you for being a PITA that is )
    • Which is why the FTC in Australia has warned ISPs about advertising their services as "unlimited" if they do any rate-limiting or shaping (which pretty much all Australian ISPs do).
  • Don't forget part of the problem is that our connections are assymetric. 100+ kb/sec for downloads, but ~10 kb/sec for *any* uploading is the best you can hope for.
    • I'm with a canadian isp in ontario and my bw maxes out at roughly 380-400KBytes/sec downloading.. uploading is capped at 75KBytes/sec. When I pass 90 gigabytes of bw usage they start sending me emails, asking me turn off possible viruses and whatever.. at 120 gigs they phone me up and ask me to upgrade to the deluxe edition or whatever it is heh.
    • Speak for yourself; I can get ~50 kB/s uploads and ~600 kB/s downloads (although it rarely goes this high).
  • The article mentions some ISPs called "Shaw" and "Rogers".

    Is this in the USA? I'm used to things like Comacst, MSN, Time Warner, Qwest, Pacbell, SBC, etc.

    What regions do Shaw and Rogers serve? Does this BitTorrent discrimination affect many people?
    • Rogers and Shaw are Canadian, eh.
    • by loconet ( 415875 ) on Monday February 06, 2006 @06:33PM (#14654953) Homepage
      Shaw [] and Rogers [] are the two major cable providers in Canada.

      Does it affect a lot of people? You bet.
      • Our broadband in the states may be crap compared to parts of Asia, but we've sure got it better than Canada. And Australia, too, if I recall.

        Fortunately, there are a number of broadband providers in my area, so if Time Warner ever went mad with power and started shittifying their internet service, I'd just drop them and switch to a different provider.
    • "Shaw" is predominantly in Western Canada, "Rogers" is predominantly in Eastern (i.e. Toronto as an example).

      So what are your real options for example in Toronto? There's Rogers, which in my opinion has the best bandwidth (5000 / 800 with) with the $100 modem. And then there's one major DSL provider, and a crap load of other DSL providers that run on the major DSL provider's backbone. But in my opinion, Rogers is the fastest.

      My torrents were throttled but I switched to BitComet and another port, and now
  • by Pantero Blanco ( 792776 ) on Monday February 06, 2006 @06:29PM (#14654910)
    He released it as an open source project. He can't do anything about people modding it any more than Linus Torvalds could do anything about someone modding the Linux kernel--not that he would.

    However, also like LT and most other major project figureheads, he holds a certain amount of political sway. His disapproval may be enough to keep some developers from pursuing certain paths. Of course, not everyone will care about what he thinks, but he does have SOME power.
  • BitTorrent's saving grace is its popular use for legal activities. It had a strong Good Thing quotient. Toss in encryption and you lose that "plausable deniability" veneer that the program is not intended for shady use. People on the outside take a What do you have to hide? response to encryption. If BT's image changes like this, it'll only lead to more throttling and blocking.
    • by lilmouse ( 310335 ) on Monday February 06, 2006 @06:43PM (#14655051)
      Nonsense. Is using ssh guarenteeing illegal activity? Not at all. If I want to use my ISP to download the latest Ubuntu (and I will soon), I damn well want it via BitTorrents. And if I encrypt it, that's my business too!

    • by swilver ( 617741 )
      Encrypted traffic will eventually become the dominant traffic over the internet, no matter what happens really. Encryption is cheap and easy, and IMHO the main roadblock to it being used for almost everything is the fact that the HTTPS protocol with its certificates and signing authorities (and the yearly fees you have to pay them) is total overkill for most websites.

      A simple encrypted HTTP protocol without all the certificate crap would be JUST FINE. Just negotiate some form of encryption, exchange some

  • by abscissa ( 136568 ) on Monday February 06, 2006 @06:31PM (#14654936)
    I would like to say I am totally fucking furious that Rogers feels it can do this.

    I appriciate that Bitorrent constitutes a gargantuan proportion of network traffic. I appriciate this is a problem.

    However, the reason that I feel this is unfair, which nobody seems to have mentioned yet, is that Rogers customers are limited to 60 GB of transfer total, both ways, each month. (Unless, of course, you upgrade to the $50 account + modem rental which is 100 GB). If you exceed this limit, it's not just a matter of waiting until next month -- it is a matter of having your account shut down.

    I think it is fair to do one or the other, but not both. I once wasted three days trying to figure out why Bittorrent wasn't working, only to find out it was thanks to Rogers. This was just as they had started shaping network traffic so I had no furious posts on message boards to turn to for the origin of the problem.

    Sadly, there is no alternative to Rogers for high speed access in my area. It's Rogers or dial up.
    • Just how important is it that you have broadband? I know some jobs just about require it, but if it's mostly an entertainment thing, I'd drop it in a second if my ISP pulled that crap.

      Better a slow horse that goes where you lead than a charger that'll throw and trample you.
  • statistics (Score:2, Insightful)

    by pocopoco ( 624442 )
    >Most ISPs don't do such shaping

    I wonder if he just pulled this out of his ass or something. Not only does my ISP traffic shape BT, they also block all the common ports that trackers use (you can change your client's ports easily, but the tracker owner has to change in this case).

    There have been actual studies showing P2P traffic represents over 50% of consumer ISP traffic. An ISP would have to be stupid not to shape P2P.
    • There have been actual studies showing P2P traffic represents over 50% of consumer ISP traffic. An ISP would have to be stupid not to shape P2P.

      Excellent. Last time i heard some number thrown out, it was 90% of net traffic is SPAM.

      I'd much rather that the net be 50% piracy than 90% SPAM.

  • by ebob9 ( 726509 ) *
    Why don't the clients create a simple IPSEC connection between clients and tracker (Or client-client in a trackerless version). Granted, I'm not an IPSEC expert, but wouldn't this better accomplish their goals?

    This would keep the connection and communication private, and they could run the standard BT protocol on top of IPSEC. On top of that, ISPs won't shape IPSEC down like Bit torrent traffic - because they would anger corporate VPN users.


  • Oddly enough, Bram Cohen, the original brains behind BitTorrent, doesn't support this direction. .../i>

    Oddly? As a submitter you ought to at least RTF you link to. Mr. Cohen gives rational reasons why he thinks it is a bad idea to try obfuscate BitTorrent traffic, namely that it is unlikely to avoid traffic shaping, just because you use encryption.
    If you don't like that your ISP is traffic shaping, try another ISP. (yeah I know, some people only have one ISP in their area)

    Peter H.S.
  • Opera and BitTorrent (Score:4, Informative)

    by RonnyJ ( 651856 ) on Monday February 06, 2006 @06:39PM (#14655007)
    In semi-related news, BitTorrent Inc. and Opera announced today that Opera 9 will offer BT capabilities. I do remember that a beta of Opera 8 had BitTorrent built in, but that hasn't been present in versions released since (i.e. since it went freeware). []
  • It doesn't matter whether Brahm can do anything about people trying to work around their ISP.

    What matters is, is he right in that, at best, it won't make any difference, and at worst, it'll harm torrents overall? From the article:

    ..the ISP traffic shaping tools are already quite sophisticated, and a wire protocol which transfers a lot of data bidirectionally and consistently looks like line noise with no header is only marginally more difficult to identify than one which uses fixed ports. Obfuscating the pr

  • I'm a Shaw BT user (Score:5, Interesting)

    by 0xA ( 71424 ) on Monday February 06, 2006 @06:43PM (#14655054)
    I use Shaw so aparently I'm a "victim" of this traffic shaping. I can't figure out what everyone is so up in arms about his for. I'm not a heavy BT user but I use it to grab a couple TV shows evey week, it works fine, usually takes me a few hours to ge a BSG episode tops. I got the entire second season of the OC for my g/f in 2 days. It's not like BT doesn't work anymore, if nobody told me about this I wouldn't have noticed.

    With cable you still share a certain ammount of bandwidth with the people on your trunk, espescially on the upstream. Unfortunately some people are bandwith hogs. I see this as protecting me from the guy down the street with the warez fetish more than anything else.

    Has anyone found themselves unable to use BT because of this?

    • I'm a Rogers user and I have found BT to be unusable because of this.

      However, nothing personal, I REALLY REALLY wish that people who wanted to download TV shows, movies, apps, music, warez, etc. would use USENET.

      USENET is a bit more difficult to use at first but it is fast as fast can be if you get the right server, and you are far less likely to run into trouble with anyone. I could (if I wanted) grab an entire season to a TV show in less than two hours. Probably more like 45 minutes even... (seriously...
  • by fpepin ( 61704 ) <(ac.iea) (ta) (nipepf)> on Monday February 06, 2006 @06:49PM (#14655104)
    People seem to be confusing the 2 issues.

    Encryption here is just a mean, they don't care if the ISP sees WHAT they're sharing, they only care that the ISP recognizes that they ARE sharing (and throttling their connection accordingly).

    I find the argument agains the tracker taking care of it quite silly. The guy from uTorrent says that the ISP would simpy find or modify the packet saying that obfuscation is wanted.

    I would guess the ISP would just throttle all encrypted traffic going to random ports before it starts identfiying specific packets. They're as justified to limit it to BT as they are to do it with all unrecognized traffic.

    BT is costing them a large amount of money so they start to throttle it. That means that they're not going to sit idly and not respond if it becomes obfuscated/encrypted.

    I don't think it's an arms race that BT can win at all. If the ISP wants to limit the amount of bandwidth you're using, they will limit it, one way or another. For example, the ISP might throttle everything after a threshold per month is exceeded.

    That's the main point that Bram is making, and I find it difficult to disagree with him.
  • by Anonymous Coward straight up won't let you seed
    once you get 100% of the torrent all incoming connections are closed
  • I don't know much about the bittorent protocol, but I can't imagine that the 'infohash' would be that secret, couldn't anyone find out the infohash if they could snoop trafic?

    Unless the infohash was sent over an already encrypted connection, it could be snooped, and if used for an encryption key could be found.

    I don't know what the guy thinks about DH key exchange, but once per connection is not a very big deal. (Although I guess with BT you connect to a lot of different machines, hmm... Also I suppo
  • Sooner or later, pretty much all Internet traffic will be encrypted end-to-end--it's pretty much inevitable.
  • I remember... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Coleco ( 41062 ) on Monday February 06, 2006 @07:29PM (#14655428)
    ...way back when the monthly b/w limit on Roger's was 1gb.

    That's right, 1, as in uno.

    Now people are whining about 60-100?

    How much warez are you fools downloading anyway?

    The fact is that at the end of the day ISPs pay for bandwidtch per byte. I say charge people that 'need' >100gb per byte more then the rest of us.

    This isn't a new problem. As long there's been broadband there's been people that absolutely, positively, MUST saturate their entire bandwidth 24/7/365, and these people cry bloody murder when someone tells them they can't.

    Bittorrent just happens to be the way that warez junkies do this today. Think about it. If you're shaw/rogers, and you see that 90% of your bandwidth usage is bitttorrent packets being sent by 1% of your customers, what would you do?
    • Re:I remember... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by JahToasted ( 517101 ) <toastafari&yahoo,com> on Monday February 06, 2006 @11:28PM (#14656937) Homepage
      The proper reaction is to make the price something like $20/month + $1/GB downloaded. So if you just check your email you pay $20. If you download 5 or 6 movies you pay $26. If you have your system downloading 24/7 you would end up paying something like $80 per month.

      They can't have it both ways. If they advertise it as a flat rate / unlimited, people are going to use it that way. If some people are using more bandwidth than others, then have your price reflect that. Then people will be a little more frugal in their downloading.

      Just keeping the flat rate and prohibiting people from using their connection for what they want just makes people angry and is just stupid.

  • by rincebrain ( 776480 ) on Monday February 06, 2006 @07:45PM (#14655532) Homepage
    Bram Cohen was also originally against having an upload limiter in BT clients...but when everyone else had one, lo and behold, the official client gets one.

    I wonder if this will turn out the same.
  • by Terri416 ( 131871 ) on Monday February 06, 2006 @08:27PM (#14655860)
    Encryption is the wrong tool for the job.

    To get around ISPs throttling bt, the program should adapt it's ports and protocol negotiation so that it looks like other services (html, VOIP, etc).

    Making bt fully protocol-adaptive would be take away all traffic shaping control from ISPs. Their response to this would likely be to look for high upload traffic from users and firewall off the users to stop all incoming connections.

    There are counter-moves to this (client-mode bt), but an arms race between users and their service providers is going to be messy and one-sided (they write the T&Cs).

    I think it's better that users should vote with their wallets.
  • by WoTG ( 610710 ) on Monday February 06, 2006 @08:56PM (#14656029) Homepage Journal
    For those who are interested, the people who supply Shaw (who happens to be my ISP) their traffic shaping software (or is it an appliance?) is Ellacoya Networks []. This bit of info was from some forum that I found when I first noticed that my maximum BT upstream got cut by about 60%.

    FWIW, for those who aren't traffic shaped yet, don't be surprised if you are next if you are on a cable ISP -- the nature of the shared network means that the throughput gets choked for everyone when the upstream traffic gets too high (and ACKs get delayed). DSL providers don't really care about upstream as much, they worry more about total traffic which they can throttle in other, cheaper, ways.
  • BitComet (Score:4, Interesting)

    by izomiac ( 815208 ) on Monday February 06, 2006 @09:22PM (#14656160) Homepage
    Yet another feature that BitComet already has []. Sadly, I expect Azureus and uTorrent to ignore this fact and implement their own standard. BitComet version 0.62 or 0.63 will probably conform to it. My point is, why doesn't anyone ever seem to know about BitComet's basic feature set? It's obviously a well known client. In fact, the last swarm I was in it was about equal in popularity to Azureus and BitTornado (only a couple people were using uTorrent, and someone was using the official client). If some feature has a possible exploit (like adding the DHT network as a backup in case the private tracker goes down) then everyone is up in arms about it. The useful features seem to go without notice, like UDP NAT bypass (great if you can't recieve incomming connections), an Intellegent Disk Cache (I WANT my torrent client to use more RAM so hard drive writing frequency is kept reasonable), Packet Header Encryption (the feature in question), the ability to share peer information even if the tracker goes down (implemented long before Azureus added DHT networks), sharing peer information between tracker updates (causes faster downloading), chatting with other BitComet users in the swarm, and others.
  • by blankoboy ( 719577 ) on Monday February 06, 2006 @10:05PM (#14656436)
    Wasn't the appeal of 'broadband' advertised to be 'always on, high speed, and unlimited transfers'?

    It sure seems like all you folks in North America are getting a seriousl wallet raping by the telcos/cablecos.

    Here in Japan (and I'm sure it's the same in S. Korea), we don't have any such tranfer caps. Bandwidth is also a non-issue here with 50MB ADSL and 100MB (up and down) FTTH. Also, the pricing is quite reasonable and ususally comes bundled with VOIP services. Some providers even offer TV over IP (Softbank BB).

    Japan and S.Korea are living the broadband pipedream that North America had dangled in front of it but never got (until GoogleNet shows up, seeing as they are buying all the remnants of that pipe dream - unused dark fiber).

"For a male and female to live continuously together is... biologically speaking, an extremely unnatural condition." -- Robert Briffault