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Privacy In BitTorrent By Hiding In the Crowd

CmdrTaco posted more than 5 years ago | from the even-kids-can-still-find-waldo dept.

Privacy 240

pinguin-geek writes "Researchers at the McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science at Northwestern University have identified a new 'guilt-by-association' threat to privacy in peer-to-peer (P2P) systems that would enable an eavesdropper to accurately classify groups of users with similar download behavior. While many have pointed out that the data exchanged over these connections can reveal personal information about users, the researchers shows that only the patterns of connections — not the data itself — is sufficient to create a powerful threat to user privacy. To thwart this threat, they have released SwarmScreen, a publicly available, open source software that restores privacy by masking a user's real download activity in such a manner as to disrupt classification."

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only works with (3, Insightful)

esocid (946821) | more than 5 years ago | (#27517815)

Vuze (azureus), which I dropped because of how bloated it is. Why java? utorrent is the way to go.

Re:only works with (5, Insightful)

Akido37 (1473009) | more than 5 years ago | (#27517855)

Vuze (azureus), which I dropped because of how bloated it is. Why java? utorrent is the way to go.

Vuze's bloat problem isn't Java.

It's feature creep. Sometimes I just want to download a torrent.

Re:only works with (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27517947)

vuzeispants

-Dan East

Here's a novel idea: Don't FUCKING STEAL !! (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27518697)

Stop stealing and you won't worry about this shit

Re:only works with (4, Funny)

courseofhumanevents (1168415) | more than 5 years ago | (#27518043)

I wish there was a +1 Correct mod. This isn't exactly insightful or interesting.

Re:only works with (5, Informative)

KenMcM (1293074) | more than 5 years ago | (#27518157)

That'd be +1 Informative.

Re:only works with (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27518957)

Correct! :)

I mean.. informative!

Re:only works with (3, Insightful)

Kjella (173770) | more than 5 years ago | (#27518187)

Vuze's bloat problem isn't Java.

While I know some stunning things done in java, the four most bloated applications I know are also written in java. I guess it's like C/C++ and buffer overflows, those who like the langauge say good developers don't do that but in practise java seems to lend itself easily to bloat. In theory any developer can do anything in any language that's Turing-complete, it all comes down to how productive real developers are in practise...

Re:only works with (1)

perryizgr8 (1370173) | more than 5 years ago | (#27518711)

While I know some stunning things done in java, the four most bloated applications I know are also written in java.

two of them being vuze and openoffice, i presume?

Re:only works with (1)

AmaDaden (794446) | more than 5 years ago | (#27518855)

The main issue with Java for desktop apps is the GUI. Ever since java got started it's GUI frameworks have been clunky and slow. Eclipse went so far as to write there own GUI frame work, SWT, to deal with these issues. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Standard_Widget_Toolkit [wikipedia.org] If you look that the Java version history (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Standard_Widget_Toolkit [wikipedia.org] ) You'll see that just about every major release makes some upgrades to the GUI layer. The most drastic was in the 3ed major release (Java 1.2) where they scraped the existing GUI framework(AWT) and started over (Swing).

Re:only works with (4, Funny)

AliasMarlowe (1042386) | more than 5 years ago | (#27518259)

Vuze's bloat problem isn't Java.
It's feature creep. Sometimes I just want to download a torrent.

I'd call it malfeature creep with a commercial bent, in an unnatural union with a hideously malformed GUI.
I installed Vuze innocently and optimistically enough, but as soon as I started it and saw the abomination appear, its days - nay, minutes - on my system were numbered. It was utterly expunged after a quick kill.

Re:only works with (3, Informative)

Ilgaz (86384) | more than 5 years ago | (#27518687)

Set it to Run in "Advanced Mode" on startup. And for "just downloading a torrent", I don't think anything will beat rtorrent from console.

Re:only works with (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27518887)

And when that urge takes me i just use transmission or deluge, or even gnome-btdownloader, why would anyone resort to utorrent? i would suggest the original bittorrent and bittornado but don't know how up to date those are now.

Re:only works with (1)

Vahokif (1292866) | more than 5 years ago | (#27519219)

Its bloat problem isn't Java, but its general clunkiness problem is.

Re:only works with (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27517859)

If this is a valid concern, I would expect whatever algorithm or obfuscation technique employed here to be incorporated into most major clients. Which isn't to say that will happen, but I think that it should.

Old News? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27518221)

Plus this is old news, apparently: Release Date: 6/18/2008 [torrentflux.com]

Re:only works with (5, Funny)

0100010001010011 (652467) | more than 5 years ago | (#27517903)

Utorrent, which I dropped because of how bloated it is. Why GUI? rtorrent is the way to go.

Re:only works with (5, Funny)

Rip Dick (1207150) | more than 5 years ago | (#27518015)

Yeah, it's 4,500K memory footprint is ridiculous.

.... alright... Why terminal? Raw socket is the wa (5, Funny)

SmallFurryCreature (593017) | more than 5 years ago | (#27518207)

...alright...why terminal? Raw socket is the way to go!

Re:.... alright... Why terminal? Raw socket is the (5, Funny)

c0p0n (770852) | more than 5 years ago | (#27518297)

Unless you can interface directly with the network media using a battery and a metal pin, STFU.

Re:.... alright... Why terminal? Raw socket is the (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27518523)

I just stare very hard at the wire.

Re:.... alright... Why terminal? Raw socket is the (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27518739)

I just buy my porn and stare at that instead.

Re:.... alright... Why terminal? Raw socket is the (1)

uberjoe (726765) | more than 5 years ago | (#27518633)

Obligatory xkcd [xkcd.com]

Re:.... alright... Why terminal? Raw socket is the (5, Funny)

Mister Whirly (964219) | more than 5 years ago | (#27518669)

I can get WiFi on the fillings in my teeth.
Oh, hang on a sec, downloading an attachment!

Re:.... alright... Why terminal? Raw socket is the (3, Funny)

pbhj (607776) | more than 5 years ago | (#27518683)

What do you need the battery for? Stick the pin in your brain at one end and use nerve impulses to generate the charge to send the signals with ...

Re:only works with (3, Insightful)

talz13 (884474) | more than 5 years ago | (#27517921)

Since it runs on every platform that supports java? Since it has useful plugins? Since taking up 1% of my CPU and 300MB of ram to seed 10 torrents doesn't bother me much on a quad core with 4GB of RAM?

Re:only works with (2, Funny)

FinchWorld (845331) | more than 5 years ago | (#27518003)

"Since taking up 1% of my CPU and 300MB of ram to seed 10 torrents doesn't bother me much on a quad core with 4GB of RAM?"

So you like things needlessly eating up more resources? Man, you should run a vista vm, inside a vista vm, on vista!

Re:only works with (2, Insightful)

Larry Clotter (1527741) | more than 5 years ago | (#27518117)

So you like things needlessly eating up more resources?

What's the point of buying RAM and CPU only to have it underutilized all the time? You might as well go back to only having 16 megs of RAM and a 386 if you are going to complain about 1% usage of CPU and 7.5% usage of total RAM.

Re:only works with (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27518211)

What's the point of buying RAM and CPU only to have it underutilized all the time?

You over bought then. If global warming is a real concern, then it should matter to you that software is inefficient. True it may not matter a lot that one person is running some bloatware, but when you've got three hundred million people running bloatware, then being a few percent more efficient makes sense.

Re:only works with (0)

Larry Clotter (1527741) | more than 5 years ago | (#27518285)

You over bought then.

No, some of us actually take full advantage of the resources in our PCs rather than complaining about 1% of our CPU being used.

If global warming is a real concern, then it should matter to you that software is inefficient. True it may not matter a lot that one person is running some bloatware, but when you've got three hundred million people running bloatware, then being a few percent more efficient makes sense.

The power usage difference between something using 1% of the CPU vs. say .5% is going to be marginal at best even on a grand scale.

Re:only works with (5, Funny)

Mister Whirly (964219) | more than 5 years ago | (#27518717)

Exactly. What is the point of having your CPU idle? Wouldn't the ideal be to use as much resources as you can all the time? I have never understood why people build these massive computing machines and then never do any serious computing.

Re:only works with (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27518729)

eh exactly, I make full use of my PC's hardware with applications that actually require it - therefore having a torrent app take up 300mb is not only unnecessary but is diverting resources from app's that NEED it.

Sure that memory might sit idle for a few minutes a day, but that means its ready, willing and able when and where its needed.

Torrents are background tasks - save the resources for the proper tasks.

Re:only works with (1)

Larry Clotter (1527741) | more than 5 years ago | (#27518873)

eh exactly, I make full use of my PC's hardware with applications that actually require it - therefore having a torrent app take up 300mb is not only unnecessary but is diverting resources from app's that NEED it.

But the person has 4 gigs of RAM. 300 MB is barely going to bring up total usage on a normal system to maybe 20% which leaves you with close to 3 GB left. Your other apps are hardly going to be memory starved only 3 gigs.

Sure that memory might sit idle for a few minutes a day, but that means its ready, willing and able when and where its needed.

And it means you are just wasting energy for nothing.

Torrents are background tasks - save the resources for the proper tasks.

But if you have more than enough RAM to cover all the other tasks along with the torrents you are running why should you care? You seem to be complaining about usage of the system resources that is a pittance in the total pool of available memory and CPU.

Re:only works with (1)

fluffernutter (1411889) | more than 5 years ago | (#27518267)

What's the point of buying RAM and CPU if you're only using it to download torrents??

Re:only works with (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27519149)

You can get fined for jaywalking? Hey, that's not even a crime in most countries. Strange place, the US.

Re:only works with (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27518751)

Like circular arguments much?

Whats the point of buying ram if you are not going to use it. If you have more ram, why not use it all?

Nice

Re:only works with (2, Informative)

Ilgaz (86384) | more than 5 years ago | (#27518767)

Funny is, these are the same people demanding 64bit Flash plugin because they run 64bit browser on an 64bit OS.

If Apple was decent enough (or developers could code anything actually multi arch) to release Snow Leopard for 64bit G5 Macs, I would upgrade to 8 GB (from 4.5 GB) on my Quad G5 in no time. Its max is 16GB btw.

Re:only works with (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27519135)

>>Man, you should run a vista vm, inside a vista vm, on vista!

Yo, dawg! I herd [sic] you like Vista...

Re:only works with (2, Interesting)

Ilgaz (86384) | more than 5 years ago | (#27518845)

It took uTorrent guys 1 or more years to ship a OS X version even while their code is still i386 only. The idea of "run on every platform which has a sane Java and support everything" will keep sending developers/researchers to Vuze no matter how much it is attacked by Java and even paid commercial content hating hating people.

Let me remind again that uTorrent is NOT an open source software which is also owned by MPAA/RIAA members partners Bittorrent.com.

They do a great job hiding that fact lately it seems.

Re:only works with Vuze (2, Informative)

denis-The-menace (471988) | more than 5 years ago | (#27518013)

Bloat is not the word.

Vuze is a F-ing multimedia billboard.
It even plays commercials while you try to figure out what the F--k you just launched!

All the tools to tweak it as to not piss off my ISP are gone. I went uTorrent and kicked myself I didn't do it sooner.

Re:only works with Vuze (3, Informative)

memorycardfull (1187485) | more than 5 years ago | (#27519285)

Agreed. The word is adware.

Re:only works with (2, Informative)

wud (709053) | more than 5 years ago | (#27518051)

i use torrent flux, and it destroys everything else. LAMP based, so I can access it from any computer in my house. I strongly recommend it. http://www.torrentflux.com/ [torrentflux.com]

Re:only works with (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27518085)

Yeah, I'll just stick with BitTorrent over Tor.

Re:only works with (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27518817)

Yeah, I'll just stick with BitTorrent over Tor.

Stop it, asshole. That degrades Tor for everyone else and makes it less likely for people to run exit nodes.

Re:only works with (4, Informative)

drchoffnes (1256396) | more than 5 years ago | (#27518149)

(From the one of the software authors) UTorrent doesn't support plugins and is closed source. If that were to change, we'd happily develop for it.

Re:only works with (1)

Symbolis (1157151) | more than 5 years ago | (#27518797)

Any plans for a Deluge [deluge-torrent.org] plugin?

Re:only works with (1)

LeafOnTheWind (1066228) | more than 5 years ago | (#27519035)

No. This is a research project, not a software product. I wouldn't even expect more out of this plugin, much less any kind of port work. Fabian probably only cares about the software as much that it is proof-of-concept.

Re:only works with (3, Insightful)

Ilgaz (86384) | more than 5 years ago | (#27518423)

Well, it seems to be open source and gives the developers all the stuff they need to code such a plugin. Except memory usage (which I got plenty to use), I don't see it uses more than 2-5% CPU too. As a person who wants to use P2P technology but in a way that I can pay for the content, their "Vuze Guide" gives me what I need too.

and uTorrent? The one acquired by DRM loving Bittorrent.com because it was way too popular compared to their junk client and nobody knows what is inside it anymore? Before attacking an application as "bloated", pick your other suggestion well.

Even if it supported plugins, releasing such a privacy enhancing plugin for uTorrent would be the irony of the month.

Re:only works with (1)

Omestes (471991) | more than 5 years ago | (#27518695)

Transmission, for those of us who have a spare linux/os x box.

How does bittrorrent.com like DRM? This is the first I've heard of it, please explain.

Vuze is the only bittorrent client I've used that actively crashed my PC. Why would a bittorrent client cause me to blue screen around four times in a row? I don't like the fact, as well, that its actual useful features (you know, as a bittorrent client) are somewhat hidden, and requires some clicks to actually view the information that you want to see, like what your downloading, and how fast. While I'm sure a segment of the population find its hideous UI, and spammy adverts for craptastic pop music useful, I find them a distraction from what I really want to do, download torrents. Also I've noticed it is on the whole slower than uTorrent and Transmission (actually transmission, in my experience is much faster than utorrent with like settings on the same network, for some reason).

If someone could recommend a good FOSS torrent client for Windows, I'd hop on it in a second. Vuze, though, doesn't satisfy the first requirement.

Re:only works with (1)

AliasMarlowe (1042386) | more than 5 years ago | (#27518919)

If someone could recommend a good FOSS torrent client for Windows, I'd hop on it in a second.

Have you tried BitTornado? It's actually quite OK - functional but not overburdened with crap - and is widely included in Linux distributions. The Windows binary and Python source (also for Linux) are available from http://www.bittornado.com/ [bittornado.com]
You could do a lot worse (e.g. Vuze [pukes copiously]).

Re:only works with (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27519021)

Transmission, for those of us who have a spare linux/os x box.

How does bittrorrent.com like DRM? This is the first I've heard of it, please explain.

Vuze is the only bittorrent client I've used that actively crashed my PC. Why would a bittorrent client cause me to blue screen around four times in a row? I don't like the fact, as well, that its actual useful features (you know, as a bittorrent client) are somewhat hidden, and requires some clicks to actually view the information that you want to see, like what your downloading, and how fast. While I'm sure a segment of the population find its hideous UI, and spammy adverts for craptastic pop music useful, I find them a distraction from what I really want to do, download torrents. Also I've noticed it is on the whole slower than uTorrent and Transmission (actually transmission, in my experience is much faster than utorrent with like settings on the same network, for some reason).

If someone could recommend a good FOSS torrent client for Windows, I'd hop on it in a second. Vuze, though, doesn't satisfy the first requirement.

maybe because you are using M$ Windoze?
Get a real OS before complaining.
Asshole.

Re:only works with (1)

lattyware (934246) | more than 5 years ago | (#27518547)

Sure, give us open uTorrent and it'll work great.
It may have it's flaws, but my personal favourite client remains Deluge.

Re:only works with (1)

LeafOnTheWind (1066228) | more than 5 years ago | (#27518989)

I know that people don't read articles on Slashdot but that's seriously about half way down the list:

Why use the Vuze/Azureus BitTorrent client? For one, it's probably the most popular client in terms of use, so targeting Vuze gives us the greatest potential impact. Additionally, Vuze is Java-based, meaning anyone can run their software (and ours). Finally, Vuze offers a convenient plugin feature, requiring no changes to your existing Vuze client. And once you're running SwarmScreen, it will automatically search for new versions and update itself for you!

In addition, Java plugins are trivially ported to other systems. Azureus (I refuse to call it Vuze) also has some useful debugging tools.

Not to mention that ÂTorrent is not Free Software, so it is definitely not the "way to go." I mean, seriously, the thing is Windows only, what's happening to Slashdot that some closed source Windows piece of crap is "the way to go?"

Disclaimer: I am a computer science major at Northwestern. I did not participate in this research, though.

Ahh, great, just what we needed (5, Funny)

galorin (837773) | more than 5 years ago | (#27517849)

Now my downloading of Linux ISO's and pre-release movies is going to be mingled with horse porn. Just what I always wanted.

Re:Ahh, great, just what we needed (2, Funny)

ndavis (1499237) | more than 5 years ago | (#27517925)

Now my downloading of Linux ISO's and pre-release movies is going to be mingled with horse porn. Just what I always wanted.

Nope instead it will always show you downloading a CD from the RIAA so they can send you a bill. This is the new idea to raise money you write a program that makes everyone look like a criminal.

Maybe if we did do this we could invalidate their methods?

Re:Ahh, great, just what we needed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27518357)

Now my downloading of horse porn is going to be mingled with Linux ISO's and pre-release movies!?!?

Re:Ahh, great, just what we needed (1)

pinguin-geek (1283322) | more than 5 years ago | (#27518361)

No, no really, read the details (or followup comments) and you'll see it's not totally random; just random within a set you provide.

Re:Ahh, great, just what we needed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27519207)

That's a feature not a bug.

So now not only am I guilty being a linux nerd (2, Interesting)

Captian Spazzz (1506193) | more than 5 years ago | (#27517857)

But now this thing will start running kiddie porn and illegal software, viruses and Malware though my connection as well so that I don't get classified as any.

I'd love to see what defence you use when your door gets bashed in in the middle of the night.

Re:So now not only am I guilty being a linux nerd (3, Insightful)

Ontheotherhand (796949) | more than 5 years ago | (#27518017)

The best defence must be to start objecting to the state behaving in such a facist fashion. Probably best to start objecting before they break down the door, though.

Re:So now not only am I guilty being a linux nerd (5, Funny)

castironpigeon (1056188) | more than 5 years ago | (#27518063)

Help! Help! I'm being repressed!

Re:So now not only am I guilty being a linux nerd (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27518777)

I'm pretty sure we all saw the violence inherent in the system a long time ago.

Re:So now not only am I guilty being a linux nerd (1)

nothing2seehere (1496253) | more than 5 years ago | (#27518577)

If you're going to sling the word "fascist" around, you should first be able to (a) spell it, and (b) understand its meaning.

Re:So now not only am I guilty being a linux nerd (1)

drchoffnes (1256396) | more than 5 years ago | (#27518179)

(From one of the software authors)
Obviously this is a real concern, so by default SwarmScreen does nothing until you tell the software where to find content to download. It will only get content from the sites you tell it to.

Re:So now not only am I guilty being a linux nerd (1)

Ilgaz (86384) | more than 5 years ago | (#27518921)

If you break a shop glass all alone, you will spend the time in jail or pay for it. If you become part of a some 10s of thousands rioting crowd and break the same glass, you will happily spend the night at your home, with some bruises from cops :)

That is the idea of "being part of crowd" I think.

I Know Where This Is Going (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27517865)

RIAA Lawyer: We obtained a warrant to search the defendant's home when traffic was identified as being characteristic of SwarmScreen. When the defendant's machine was recovered, we discovered they indeed had SwarmScreen installed--a program only used to subvert our techniques of classifying thieves. That, ladies and gentlemen of the jury, should be enough for indication of guilt.

The endless cat & mouse game continues ...

Re:I Know Where This Is Going (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27518319)

Obligatory car analogy

Car Company Lawyer: We obtained a warrant to search the defendant's home when tools were identified as being characteristic of Bicycling. When the defendant's garage was search, we discovered they indeed had bicycles inside--a device only used to subvert our techniques of selling you cars. That, ladies and gentlemen of the jury, should be enough for indication of guilt.

Where no client has gone before... (1)

geekmux (1040042) | more than 5 years ago | (#27518355)

Ah, if the concern is to perhaps be falsely accused of masking your download content with SwarmScreen, then why not just write in that feature to every torrent client out there?

Yes, we know where this COULD go in the legal system, but oddly enough, Common F. Sense has reported absent from our legal system for the last decade or two...

Re:I Know Where This Is Going (1)

pinguin-geek (1283322) | more than 5 years ago | (#27518401)

Little problem - there's no 'traffic [..] characteristic of SwarmScreen'; the RIAA Lawyer must read the details and try again.

Re:I Know Where This Is Going (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27519281)

You know that could all go down the drain with an expert witness right? I think we should fight back... instead of the RIAA bullying us, we should create an open source project that would monitor the RIAA's every move, not limited to computer activity. F*** the R***.

Any benefit for the cautious bittorrent user? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27517923)

OK, so even if I only use bittorrent to download legal files like Linux disk images, SwarmScreen will randomly download packets that may or may not be chunks of a copyrighted file just to confuse the copyright police. Sounds like a great idea.

Here's an idea... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27517937)

...How's about redirecting all that effort into, oh, I don't know, NOT FUCKING STEALING THE MUSIC. At what point did it become OK to steal shit because we think the price is too high? If you don't like the price, don't fucking buy it or just listen to the radio like we did as kids. There *IS* no justification for stealing. None.

Re:Here's an idea... (5, Insightful)

holychicken (1307483) | more than 5 years ago | (#27518033)

It does not necessarily have to do with stealing. It is a privacy concern. Do you want someone being able to watch you without you knowing and getting a ton of information about you by doing so? Whether or not I am stealing, I do not want that. I suspect you do not want that either.

Re:Here's an idea... (0, Offtopic)

Exitar (809068) | more than 5 years ago | (#27518543)

In a study I just made up, 67% of people who steal music are more relaxed, swear less and use less caps when posting on forums.

Re:Here's an idea... (1)

Hatta (162192) | more than 5 years ago | (#27518723)

Who's stealing? All I do is engage in consensual transfers of data with like minded individuals.

Legitimate uses (5, Insightful)

olddotter (638430) | more than 5 years ago | (#27518025)

Can companies that use bit-torrent to do legitimate work speak out in its defense? I fear the "guilty by association" is much more along the lines of "you use bit-torrent, therefore your guilty".

Frankly if this improves upon that, it might be a help to bit-torrent users that aren't pirates.

Re:Legitimate uses (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27518201)

"Oh Noes, Blizzard uses BT for wow updates!! They must be criminals hiding their illegal music downloads!!!" - RIAA Lawyers

Re:Legitimate uses (1)

Richard_at_work (517087) | more than 5 years ago | (#27518511)

I think it goes deeper than that - what are the legitimate:nonlegitimate traffic ratios on trackers? Its not as simple as saying 'BitTorrent has legal uses' if a particular popular tracker has no legitimate torrents.

Re:Legitimate uses (1)

olddotter (638430) | more than 5 years ago | (#27518565)

I don't think the RIAA lawyers even understand what you just said. Thats my point.

Download random data from BitTorrent (5, Insightful)

JeffSpudrinski (1310127) | more than 5 years ago | (#27518081)

Okay...

According to TFA, their software will download random data from BitTorrent to your system to hide what you really wanted to dowload within a cloud of random downloads.

Are you SURE you want to allow random data from BitTorrent to be downloaded onto your computer? There's a LOT of stuff out there that I wouldn't want even the remote chance (e.g. being selected randomly) of having it on my computer.

Just sayin'.

-JJS

Re:Download random data from BitTorrent (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27518177)

If you actually read the details you will find that it's not really random, but random from a set you give it. So, if you give swarmscreen a site w/, legal software, then it would only download from there.

Re:Download random data from BitTorrent (4, Interesting)

Kjella (173770) | more than 5 years ago | (#27518431)

If you actually read the details you will find that it's not really random, but random from a set you give it. So, if you give swarmscreen a site w/, legal software, then it would only download from there.

Unless there's a significant overlap between both sources causing confusion on whether you're downloading legal or illegal content, I don't see how it can work. If it's as distinct as they say it should be easy to create a signature of legal sites and subtract any connections to them from your total bittorrent presence, effectively dissolving the smoke screen.

Re:Download random data from BitTorrent (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27519027)

I had a similar idea to this but a bit like spread spectrum radio as it would work better in favour of privacy and usefulness.

Why not setup a new p2p network based on bittorrent that uses everyone as a proxy but only within the network, it would cycle through users after a period of time or amount of data, you'd have to give up a certain percent of bandwidth but i think could be worth it.

Re:Download random data from BitTorrent (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27519209)

Actually not only that but each user could act as a cache for these small chunks of data, they could store a few hundred megabytes or however much they like which cycles through with rarer stuff being retained for longer.

No idea if this is even realistically possible or how it would be done but it sounds pretty good.

Summary of Story (5, Insightful)

manekineko2 (1052430) | more than 5 years ago | (#27518113)

Here's a summary of their findings, because the one provided by Slashdot doesn't really do a good job in my opinion of describing it.

BitTorrent downloaders apparently fall into "communities" that have very similar downloading patterns. In light of this, they think that it would be possible for an argument to be made, that if one member of a community is downloading X, that the behavior can be imputed through guilt-by-association onto all other members of that community. Therefore, you wouldn't necessarily need evidence that a given member of a community actually engaged in the downloading, due to the high degree of correlation between community member downloads.

This strikes me as a bit of dubious reasoning from a legal standpoint, as just because you hang out with a bunch of mobsters all day, and there's a high correlation of that with committing theft, doesn't mean they can try you for robbery just through guilt-by-association without more evidence that you're a robber. Still, courts have made weird conclusions in the past simply because computers and the Internet are involved.

For now, their software and idea mostly seems like a neat proof-of-concept. Until someone actually tries to deploy this legal argument in a court somewhere, I don't think I'll be losing too much sleep over this. Might be worthwhile for someone in a totalitarian regime that for some reason needs to be downloading over BitTorrent, but I don't know how realistic a concern that really is.

Re:Summary of Story (1)

burris (122191) | more than 5 years ago | (#27518261)

Perhaps this creates enough "reasonable doubt" to evade a criminal conviction in the absence of other evidence. However, for a civil infringement suit the standard of proof is the much lower "preponderance of evidence."

In the USA at least...

Re:Summary of Story (2, Informative)

hemp (36945) | more than 5 years ago | (#27518345)

What world do you live in?

Associating with known terrorist groups will automatically get you labeled as a terrorist and win you either execution or jail time.
 

Re:Summary of Story (1)

ruin20 (1242396) | more than 5 years ago | (#27518789)

I wouldn't worry about being taken to trail for this, I'd be worried about search warrants being issued based on this data. In other words, if you fall into a community downloading mixed materials, some public domain, some copyrighted, a conviction on one member of the community would be used to subpoena the other members. The idea of "Because you are part of a community illegally distributing protected works, we want to search your hard drive for illegal obtained data" doesn't seem like it would be too far of a leap for the courts. By that time they're done, you've lost productivity and probably hired a lawyer... so just the accusation is a big enough pain that it'd be a hassle.

Of course I don't see how this program protects you from that. It simply obscures which data and connections are important to you, but it doesn't hide the connections. I would imagine that you'd want to identify a person by "his connections contain this subset" and that answer would still be true with or without the program.

"Little Brother" come to life (2, Interesting)

yourexhalekiss (833943) | more than 5 years ago | (#27518133)

It seems like more and more of Cory Doctorow's book "Little Brother" is coming to life. In relation to this article, see chaff [paranoidlinux.org] .

Usenet. (1)

stonedcat (80201) | more than 5 years ago | (#27518173)

Could just save yourself the trouble and get a usenet account with SSL..

Only protects from profiling ISPs (5, Insightful)

bjamesv (1528503) | more than 5 years ago | (#27518335)

By firing up random connections, this only protects you from an ISP that is profiling your use. The MPAA can still go fire up a bitorrent client, join a swarm downloading content they claim copyright on and start writing down the IP of everyone who is participating. And then they call up your ISP. this 'masking' technique doesnt actually 'mask' anything very well.

Re:Only protects from profiling ISPs (1)

pbhj (607776) | more than 5 years ago | (#27518765)

Don't the torrent networks disallow MPAA use? That would mean on connection that the MPAA is in breach of contract, they're not law enforcement agents and presumably don't have a warrant of the court??

Re:Only protects from profiling ISPs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27518857)

But surely it's not copyright infringement if the ??AA send me their data or ask me to send it to them? They're the copyright holder and I have their permission!

Re:Only protects from profiling ISPs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27519153)

Exactly. And if the **AA wanted to troll for new lawsuits, this is the method they'd use, not ISP profiling, since directly connecting to peers in a BitTorrent swarm proves that the peer was actively uploading a particular file.

This only solves part of the problem (2, Insightful)

Crashspeeder (1468723) | more than 5 years ago | (#27518341)

While this seems like a great idea if you're being targeted at random to see what you're downloading (and by proxy getting the community at large) it won't help if Symantec, MS, EA, etc., catches you downloading their software from a honeypot seeder. It seems to be that the only true protection is the use of darknets and sharing with friends only.

The only problem there is it isolates the users from the community so much that it's hard to get the wares because there is no set distribution pipe, only the hopes that somebody in your darknet/friends list downloaded what you want. Otherwise you must begin the search for a network that has what you're looking for, and hope you can trust them to not be law enforcement.

Re:This only solves part of the problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27518533)

The problem with BitTorrent is not that you're downloading. Downloading is not illegal. Problem with P2P is that to download you also have to upload, and uploading is illegal without the copyright holder's permission.

If any entity were to "honeypot" a Torrent that would be clear intent on their part to allow you to download, and then upload, the data, since this is how BitTorrent fundamentally works, and they seeded it.

Don't worry about BitTorrent honeypots.

Deluge? (1)

ghostgrave (1527575) | more than 5 years ago | (#27518483)

Anyone give that a shot? Memory serves it has a Tor plugin right off the bat...

IP Masking (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27518559)

Can't I just mask my IP via a proxy and leave it at that? If they're watching traffic on 000.00.0.000 and I am using 000.00.1.000 then what is the consequence of someone monitoring the traffic?

Stupidest Idea Ever Because... (1)

KronosReaver (932860) | more than 5 years ago | (#27519001)

So there is a potential privacy threat that is not currently being exploited. If it were to be exploited it would by at the ISP level, most of whom do not care one bit about copyright. They do however care about the huge amount of data transfer across their networks for BitTorrent.

So the solution to a "potential" threat the ISPs do not care about exploiting is to create a system that will increase data transfer amounts by X depending on the level you select. Which is something the ISPs WILL care about, and WILL do something about.

Maybe someone can develop a plug-in that will just paint a big bulls eye on my front door too... oh wait...

If that alone were not bad enough what about the harm this will do to BitTorrent directly? Random Idiot wants to download a single new release movie so they turn this POS on and start downloading another 10 "Cover Torrents"... great, now the extra load starts swamping trackers and real users can not connect to the tracker, at least not until the tracker forks over a bunch of cash for server upgrades. Then the swarms start to suffer because X percent of what everyone is seeding back is going to those "Cover Torrents" instead of to real users who may at least attempt to be good users and keep seeding a torrent back for some time.

Someone remind me what the point of this plug-in is again?

CR vs. CP (1)

JackSpratts (660957) | more than 5 years ago | (#27519245)

heh. wouldn't it be funny if a user was downloading soame basically inocuous copyrighted crap but the app swarmed him with kiddie porn, hehheh.

yikes.

- js.

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