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BitTorrent and End to End Encryption

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 8 years ago | from the end-runs-and-other-oddities dept.

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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494 comments

Encryption isn't the solution we need, or want.. (5, Insightful)

takeya (825259) | more than 8 years ago | (#14654803)

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.

Re:Encryption isn't the solution we need, or want. (5, Insightful)

Dr. Evil (3501) | more than 8 years ago | (#14654827)

ISPs are happy to lose those customers.

Re:Encryption isn't the solution we need, or want. (2, Interesting)

Dster76 (877693) | more than 8 years ago | (#14655137)

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.

Re:Encryption isn't the solution we need, or want. (5, Interesting)

Shinaku (757671) | more than 8 years ago | (#14655206)

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.

Encryption won't work anyhow (5, Insightful)

LunaticTippy (872397) | more than 8 years ago | (#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.

Re:Encryption won't work anyhow (5, Insightful)

Yaztromo (655250) | more than 8 years ago | (#14654971)

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?

Yaz.

Re:Encryption won't work anyhow (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14655070)

all my outgoing connections are throataled to somthing so stupid, i have only one isp to choose from country wide, i use VPNS to get around this, where a connection might normally be 1kbs the VPN allows me to go at speeds ~60kbs, thanks OpenVPN for their great software.

Re:Encryption won't work anyhow (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#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.

Re:Encryption won't work anyhow (5, Insightful)

interiot (50685) | more than 8 years ago | (#14655204)

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.

Re:Encryption won't work anyhow (1)

Abcd1234 (188840) | more than 8 years ago | (#14655036)

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.

There are problems with that... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14654955)

> ... many of whom hold a local monopoly ...
> Perhaps a boycott ...

I hope that these quotes help illustrate the problem here :/

I just wish ISPs would try to be more reasonable about bandwidth instead of expecting us all to do nothing but email and browsing a few websites.

Technology isn't the solution we need, or want. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14655099)

"...leaving them without services like bittorrent that have a clear and growing legal use. "

If BT has a "clear and growing legal use"? Then the flip side is that it also has a "clear and growing illegal use" as well.

"Perhaps a boycott of ISPs that do that would be in order... except for that whole monopoly thing."

I'm certain all you geeks with your big brains will come up with a solution. You do it all the time here.

Re:Encryption isn't the solution we need, or want. (1)

Lesrahpem (687242) | more than 8 years ago | (#14655213)

I hear that! In my area there are two broadband providers, the local cable company (Armstrong) and Sprint, which will provide DSL. However, nobody knows DSL is even available because the TV of course never runs commercials for it. So, the cable provider has a crazy monopoly and they abuse it horribly. Here's some of the stupid stuff they do:

They offer two "speeds" of their service, called Zoom 100 and Zoom 500. However, the numbers after the name don't have anything at all to do with the speed. Zoom 100 is a 128k connection that usually gives you more like 56k of actual throughput, whereas there are different "versions" of Zoom 500, going all the way up to 5Mb/s. In commercials they say Zoom 500 is 5Mb/s for like 40.00 a month, but the 40.00/month Zoom 500 is actually 1.5Mb/s I think.

If someone tries to brute force or break into your e-mail account they turn your internet off. This actually happened to my girlfriend. They turned her internet connection off and said they wouldn't turn it back on until she downloaded (...how?) a virus scanner and removed the virus from her computer. There was no virus. They said she was checking her mail 10 times a second.... her computer was not even on.

They block asbolutely all inbound connections to any port used by anything. You can't even transfer files using AIM unless you do it on an odd port.

They don't run enough cable runs around town, so most people don't even get half of the speed they pay for. Service goes out for about 1 hour a week; usually on Fridays. I've asked other people in town and they concur that it really does happen, so it's not just my observation. Of course, if you complain they will not give you a discount on your next bill. Oh, and they offer VOIP by the way, so that 1 hour a week on Friday get's old fast.

They will sell you a static IP and unblock connections to your IP. However, this costs over 100.00 a month extra. Yeah, that is in addition to what you pay for the connection. Oh, and do do that you have to give them a written reason why you need each port unblocked.

They offer a "deal" where you can use more than one computer on your internet connection. It costs something like 10.00 a month extra per computer, and they come put a router in your house, usually a wifi one. When they set these up they typically do not use WEP (they're supposed to). When they remember to use it they like to use the same default WEP-key...

They block the MAC addresses of Linksys, Netgear, and D-Link products.

If they know you use Linux they refuse to provide technical support for your internet connection.

So, yeah, needless to say, they abuse their monopoly like crazy. I don't have to deal with it anymore because switched to Sprint. Remarkably, I've had no problems with Sprint at all. They were even cool that I had my own DSL modem I wanted to use instead of their's, and they don't give a crap what you do with your connection.

To answer "anonymous reader"'s tag question... (1, Insightful)

ajwitte (849122) | more than 8 years ago | (#14654808)

No.

Re:To answer "anonymous reader"'s tag question... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14654894)

Is there really anything he can do about it?

Yes. He can contribute his viewpoint like everyone else.

Follow up question : Will anyone listen to him?

Nope.

Wrong Solution (4, Insightful)

Hatta (162192) | more than 8 years ago | (#14654816)

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 (2, Interesting)

Mrs. Grundy (680212) | more than 8 years ago | (#14654903)

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 (5, Insightful)

Hrothgar The Great (36761) | more than 8 years ago | (#14654907)

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.

Re:Wrong Solution (1)

mark-t (151149) | more than 8 years ago | (#14654911)

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.

Faster than dial-up? Oh no it's not. (1)

ip_freely_2000 (577249) | more than 8 years ago | (#14655000)

Torrent on the Rogers network averages about 3KB/s for me. I could get a dial up connection running far faster than that.

Re:Faster than dial-up? Oh no it's not. (1)

mark-t (151149) | more than 8 years ago | (#14655026)

3k download speed?

I thought they only throttled upload speed.

Re:Faster than dial-up? Oh no it's not. (2, Interesting)

Abcd1234 (188840) | more than 8 years ago | (#14655063)

You didn't RTFA, did you? They're using layer-7 filtering to shape BitTorrent traffic, in both directions, throttling it down to a mere trickle. I know this because I'm a victim of it. :(

Re:Wrong Solution (1)

jandrese (485) | more than 8 years ago | (#14654922)

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 Fiber you're just SOL if you don't like your local provider.

Re:Wrong Solution (3, Informative)

TheSpoom (715771) | more than 8 years ago | (#14654925)

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 [bitcomet.com] with the encrypted header option. Worked fine for me after a bit of fiddling.

Re:Wrong Solution (1)

gid13 (620803) | more than 8 years ago | (#14654926)

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 together to build a big wireless service. So, despite the appearance of numerous options, there are really only two, which have joined forces for at least one big venture. I'm happy with my reseller, but there is simply no competition. If Bell decides that the resellers aren't desirable for any reason the entire customer base here will get the shaft.

Re:Wrong Solution (1)

infinityxi (266865) | more than 8 years ago | (#14654954)

I have have been recently fortunate to have an array of different ISPs finally available in my area after 5+ years. Keep in mind, I live in New York City. DSL was my first and only option for broadband (back when it was Bell Atlantic DSL) then came my cable company's service, which has been going downhill ever since. Now there is earthlink, speakeasy, etc and I can say I'm happy with the options but if I, living in NYC had to wait so long for options imagine all those who do not live very near large cities or are in cities that the big companies just don't see as a big enough investment. Not everyone has options and it sadly sucks. It would be ideal in the world of broadband to say piss off to ISPs with shit policies but when they are the only game in town you're pretty much screwed for the time being.

Also because (5, Interesting)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 8 years ago | (#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.

Re:Also because (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14655155)

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."

First, you will need the ability to detect a hidden Bittorrent client. Second, your argument will need to overcome the fact that I have no Dean of Students to answer to. The draconian policies that your school may or may not implement mean nothing to my cost-benefit analysis. Third, your argument will need to overcome the already cited policies of Rogers, Shaw, and the like, which shape bittorrent traffic to near zero levels regardless of the quantity of competing traffic.

Your benevolent dictatorship does not describe the computing universe. Please adjust the content of your opinions accordingly.

The Goodness of Open Source (5, Insightful)

imoou (949576) | more than 8 years ago | (#14654821)

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?

Re:The Goodness of Open Source (1)

ndansmith (582590) | more than 8 years ago | (#14654950)

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 compatibility with all BT clients, but other clients which choose not the adopt this feature (namely Cohehn's own BitTorrent client) are not likely to strive for that same level of compatibility.

Client incompatibility would break the torrent community, so I suppose the "non-standard" version would be rejected and die off, as a consequence of internet natural selection.

when asked about this, Brahm said, (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14654835)

"Well, I'm not sure it's such a good idea. Cheeseburgers are delicious, let's go get some."

What does this even mean? (1)

yitzhak (720512) | more than 8 years ago | (#14655113)

Maybe it means that you don't know the difference between ADHD [wikipedia.org] and Asperger's [wikipedia.org] ?

Re:What does this even mean? (4, Funny)

UserGoogol (623581) | more than 8 years ago | (#14655217)

Just because he doesn't have ADHD doesn't mean the man can't appreciate a cheeseburger now and then. What are you, some kind of racist?

"Is there really anything he can do about it?" (3, Funny)

cerberus4696 (765520) | more than 8 years ago | (#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.

Re:"Is there really anything he can do about it?" (1)

B_un1t (942155) | more than 8 years ago | (#14655147)

I totally agree, I think that is the main reason he has even voiced an opinion on the issue. I would mod the parent as Insightful, as the Hollywood mafia has certainly tainted a genious in Bram.

Sniffing shape-able streams (5, Interesting)

Jon Luckey (7563) | more than 8 years ago | (#14654864)

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

Re:Sniffing shape-able streams (2, Funny)

MyNymWasTaken (879908) | more than 8 years ago | (#14654901)

How would that prevent it from being lots of bidirectional line noise?

Re:Sniffing shape-able streams (1)

Jon Luckey (7563) | more than 8 years ago | (#14654960)

How would that prevent it from being lots of bidirectional line noise?

If they are sniffing based on IP/port tuples, using one pipe one way and other for the other obfuscates the bidirectional part. For noise, you'd have to salt it with something that doesn't look random. Maybe just a "HTML" string at the beginning.

Modifiable, of course, to keep it a moving target. :)

Actually on further thought, I think it might be more difficult to track a transaction that kept rolling onto a new TCP/IP session every few seconds. Let the peers do the handshaking of the new connection in the background, and when its open for business, move the data off the old stream and onto the new on.

Re:Sniffing shape-able streams (2, Funny)

Chrispy1000000 the 2 (624021) | more than 8 years ago | (#14654931)

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? ;)

Re:Sniffing shape-able streams (1)

Jon Luckey (7563) | more than 8 years ago | (#14655071)

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.


NAT sure can make life difficult sometimes. (sigh)


Don't they have firewalls that let you use SNMP to modify rules yet?


I suppose if they did then malware would be messing with it too.

Whos doing the wrong (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14654868)

ISPs shouldn't have the right to choose the methods we use the internet AFTER they contract us...Taking away after a deal is signed should be a breach of agreement but of course the documents dont go that specific so its basically lump it of leave them...

Here's my take on the whole Bram Cohen thingy... (5, Insightful)

perigee369 (837140) | more than 8 years ago | (#14654869)

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.

BitTorrent and Who? (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14654875)

BitTorrent and End to End Encryption

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

Re:BitTorrent and Who? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14655029)

Who is "End"

Echelon Next Dimension.

why are they partnering with BitTorrent to end encryption?

For your own protection, citizen.

Re:BitTorrent and Who? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14655079)

Dunno, but I guess the problem with end-to-end encryption is that what if someone gets in between and steals all the unencrypted data ?

Re:BitTorrent and Who? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14655180)

shut up

What are ISPs selling? (5, Insightful)

MrNougat (927651) | more than 8 years ago | (#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.

Re:What are ISPs selling? (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14654970)

* You want to $40/Mbps per month measured by 95th-percentile?

Take all the network you need or want subject to minimal terms & conditions and comes with a robust SLA you can hold me to.

* You want $30/month for "unlimited" broadband?

That comes with a very restrictive AUP (no servers, no P2P) and I'll get around to fixing an outage when the mood hits.

* Oh, you ignored/violated the AUP?

Tough. You're disconnected and here's a bill for early termination.

There's no such thing as a free lunch. Grow up.

Re:What are ISPs selling? (1)

DrkSn (945879) | more than 8 years ago | (#14655131)

If you've taken a cisco course you'd know that bandwidth is just the theoretical max your line will be able to do. Things like distance from the ISP and packet loss will slow down your internet. So really you'll rarely if ever hit your maximum bandwidth, and thats the way its supposed to be. If you were to sue your isp over this, I'm sure the contract you signed says they reserve the right to change anything in the contract. Sadly that would include blocking any port on their router.

Re:What are ISPs selling? (1)

Bryansix (761547) | more than 8 years ago | (#14655210)

...Someone should sue [insert favorite ISP here] for bait and switch...This is hardly a far cry from the shady camera outfits online (i.e. PriceRitePhoto).

Don't forget Express Cameras.

Asymmetric connections (2, Insightful)

Ambush Commander (871525) | more than 8 years ago | (#14654890)

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.

Re:Asymmetric connections (2, Interesting)

Adult film producer (866485) | more than 8 years ago | (#14654959)

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.

Re:Asymmetric connections (1)

fredan (54788) | more than 8 years ago | (#14654989)

you mean like this:

Line Rate - Upstream (Kbps): 1388
Line Rate - Downstream (Kbps): 27244

adsl2+ about 1800-2000 meter. In Sweden, Karlskrona. :-)

Who are "Shaw" and "Rogers"? (1)

putko (753330) | more than 8 years ago | (#14654908)

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?

Re:Who are "Shaw" and "Rogers"? (5, Informative)

loconet (415875) | more than 8 years ago | (#14654953)

Shaw [www.shaw.ca] and Rogers [www.shaw.ca] are the two major cable providers in Canada.

Does it affect a lot of people? You bet.

Re:Who are "Shaw" and "Rogers"? (1)

Lendrick (314723) | more than 8 years ago | (#14655098)

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.

Re:Who are "Shaw" and "Rogers"? (1)

Embedded2004 (789698) | more than 8 years ago | (#14655164)

Weird I've always thought the opposite and I've lived in both the US and Canada.

Rogers in the area I lived in Canada is about twice-three as fast as the best as I can get here in California.

Re:Who are "Shaw" and "Rogers"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14654979)

Shaw and Rogers are two big Canadian providers

Re:Who are "Shaw" and "Rogers"? (1)

abscissa (136568) | more than 8 years ago | (#14654981)

Shaw and Rogers are Canadian high speed cable ISPs.

Though I hate Rogers, I get consistent speeds of 800/kb sec (I hope I got that unit right!) when downloading. That is on their highest tier account, which is 100 GB of transfer per month.

Is it normal for cable companies in the US to provide that kind of speed?

Re:Who are "Shaw" and "Rogers"? (1)

vodkamattvt (819309) | more than 8 years ago | (#14655080)

It depends widely. For example Cox in the DC area is pretty great and gets about that speed, but my Adelphia account near Virginia Tech blows and hovers near 2 mbits and has regular packetloss problems. However I havent heard of a mainstream broadband company giving you transfer caps a month ... all unlimited here.

www.broadbandreports.com is probably one of the best resources for checking this info out.

Re:Who are "Shaw" and "Rogers"? (1)

khellendros1984 (792761) | more than 8 years ago | (#14655122)

I've seen bandwidth limits like that on lots of non-US ISPs (Britain, Germany, Australia, for instance). 800 kB/s would likely be about right for the highest tier accounts in US ISPs, though (in my limited experience).

Re:Who are "Shaw" and "Rogers"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14655021)

They are just the only two national providers of cable service for Canada. There really isn't any alternative for us Canadians but to suffer at the hands of these two giants. The only other national provider of high speed internet is Bell Canada, but it's ASDL and very slow if don't live near a central office (even if you do live in Canada's largest city :S).

Re:Who are "Shaw" and "Rogers"? (1)

Adult film producer (866485) | more than 8 years ago | (#14655068)

Funny, I was just at a friends place 15 minutes outside of Fort Erie... he lives along the lake near a golf course.. his upload speed is great with bells adsl (80-85KBytes/sec) and downloads were flying past 450K/sec... All around him are trees, the lake and a bunch of summer cottages for the americans.

Of course he can't do anything...directly. (4, Insightful)

Pantero Blanco (792776) | more than 8 years ago | (#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 image (1)

Douglas Simmons (628988) | more than 8 years ago | (#14654923)

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.

Re:BitTorrent's image (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14655050)

Geez, let's all get behind the other sheep. This isn't the point at all. I have a _right_, at least here in America (until Bush gets finished), to do and say what I want in any way I want unless I'm endangering others. This is a premise of the Bill of Rights, and has been affirmed by the supreme court many times (at least before Alito).

Sell this somewhere else. Unless you have probable cause, I'm innocent until proven guilty no matter what the RIAA, MPAA and you say. If I want to encrypt, that's part of freedom of speech last time I looked. You and the other farm animals go ahead and sell your souls to defeat terr'ism and stuff money in the pockets of corporate america. I'd prefer to remember what so many of my ancesters died for.

-AC

Re:BitTorrent's image (5, Insightful)

lilmouse (310335) | more than 8 years ago | (#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!

--LWM
 

Re:BitTorrent's image (1)

khellendros1984 (792761) | more than 8 years ago | (#14655195)

Image is important, true. But what use is the protocol if it has good image and blockage on major ISPs? I believe the answer should be to find a way to publicize legitimate uses of torrents, and increase its image (and hopefully have a side-effect of getting it un-blocked).

Do I believe that's what's going to happen? Not really. Some developer will open the floodgates by bypassing this countermeasure, and BT client development will become a race to see who can bypass more sophisticated methods of blocking torrents as they're developed.

ISP Monopolies... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14654933)

were typically handed to them by local governments, who shelled out seed money and access rights to encourage cable companies to lay cable, establish service, and generally get started.

Once the companies are entrenched, people forget about the handouts it took to get these companies started, and they start tooting their "free market" horns loudly when anyone even mentions the word "regulation". The fact is, these companies do and did not emerge in and of themselves from the free market: I know my small town shelled out a lot for the "priviledge" of having cable access for it's residents. My parents remember giving the same sort of handouts to the phone companies. But suddenly, once these companies are in the black, the residents are left with a monopoly situation, and no say in how the companies are run.

It's a silly situation; one where the only right answer appears to be "regulate the companies" (not going to happen, due to lack of power by the municipalities to make it happen), or "go back in time, and make sure your municipality doesn't shell out money to those would-be monopolists". Does anyone know where I can get a decent used FluxCapacitor? I've tried E-bay, but no luck so far... :-(

As a Rogers customer... (5, Interesting)

abscissa (136568) | more than 8 years ago | (#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.

Re:As a Rogers customer... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14654986)

btw, it's appreciate.

Re:As a Rogers customer... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14655177)

its not it's.

Re:As a Rogers customer... (1)

Pantero Blanco (792776) | more than 8 years ago | (#14655013)

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.

Re:As a Rogers customer... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14655096)

Indeed, I was a little mad when they made the 100gig cap but that was understandable. But when I found out they were throutling BT (and other P2P) I was naturally outraged and fired off a email, here is their response to my email.

"We understand your concerns regarding issues you are experiencing with
your peer-to-peer (P2P) applications. To ensure a consistently high
level of service for all Rogers customers, it is necessary to put limits
on the amount of network bandwidth available for certain types of
applications. This process is called traffic regulation (rate-limiting,
traffic shaping, throttling).

As peer-to-peer (P2P) applications have grown in popularity, their share
of overall network traffic has increased dramatically. In particular,
the application Bittorrent uses all of the space available for uploads.
To ensure that a relatively small number of applications do not slow
service for everyone, Rogers limits the space available for P2P uploads.
This ensures all customers have a high level of service for
time-sensitive tasks like sending email, requesting web pages or voice
messaging."

Their basically saying that its the upload they have to limit cuz there network is too damn shitty; they already cap upload speeds at 1Mbit. When Japan and parts of europe have 100mbit we have to put up with this crap.

Re:As a Rogers customer... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14655140)

I want to start off saying I hate Rogers for many reasons but there are two things about your post I'm not sure about.

First "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."

That's not true. I've gone over limit a few times. Not a lot, couple gigs here and there and haven't heard a word. I know someone who went over by 15-17 gigs two months in a row and he got a call. That's it.

"I once wasted three days trying to figure out why Bittorrent wasn't working, only to find out it was thanks to Rogers"

Bittorrent works with Rogers. Last night I was downloading a Linux distro at 200K a second. Day before that I was downloading a podcost at around that too. Rest of time I'm downloading something or other at 20 or 30 k.

I'm not sure if Rogers is limiting Bit Torrent downloads or not. But they aren't blocking them.

On the other hand... (1)

ThomS (866280) | more than 8 years ago | (#14654944)

My kneejerk reaction was extremely critical of the ISP's actions. Upon further consideration however, the position of being asked to violate your clients confidentiality and hand over IPs to the RIAA or whoever certainly wouldn't be an appealing one.

Re:On the other hand... (1)

Dster76 (877693) | more than 8 years ago | (#14654985)

My kneejerk reaction was extremely critical of the ISP's actions. Upon further consideration however, the position of being asked to violate your clients confidentiality and hand over IPs to the RIAA or whoever certainly wouldn't be an appealing one.

False dichotomy.

statistics (1, Insightful)

pocopoco (624442) | more than 8 years ago | (#14654973)

>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.

Re:statistics (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14655167)

Sounds like you're the one who pulled this out of your ass. Most ISP's don't censor their users' connections like this. Just because you have your own experience does not invalidate the factuality of the statement.

Why not just use IPSEC? (2, Interesting)

ebob9 (726509) | more than 8 years ago | (#14654974)

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.

ebob

Oddly? (1)

Peter H.S. (38077) | more than 8 years ago | (#14654999)

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)

--
Regards
Peter H.S.

Cohen is naieve (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14655002)

Fourth, when it comes to dealing with ISPs, obfuscation is some combination of hostile, unprofessional, and harmful. Software projects which value quality over featuritis generally steer clear of such things, especially when their potential effectiveness level is the equivalent of spitting in one's face than actual utility.

Of course, the ISPs that do traffic shaping where bittorrent is treated like something akin to a medieval plague ship are cooperative, professional, and beneficial?

Individuals pay ISPs to carry data. While I'm sympathetic to ISPs that limit the quantity of data that an individual can receive or transmit per period of time (face it, pay-for-use is not unfair), I'm not sympathetic to ISPs that decide what type of data that individual can receive or transmit (excluding clearly malicious traffic).

Cohen ignores that many of these ISPs have localized or regionalized monopolies and that they don't want to accommodate P2P users. The users are probably in the top 5% of traffic usage, so there's no incentive to accommodate their desires, but there's the obvious desire to keep their monthly ISP payments, hence draconian shaping policies.

Cohen also ignores that encrypting the traffic has merit. "[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. I can think of at least a few applications that look like this. It's called a remote desktop (whatever the protocol, but especially if it's not X Windows based) or remote office over VPN. People use it to telecommute. People would be VERY ANNOYED if that traffic was shaped like bittorrent traffic. Companies use it to connect branch offices. Companies would be VERY ANNOYED if that traffic was shaped like bittorrent traffic. Unless the shaping software is distributed widely enough and close enough to the end user to "see" that they have 20-40 VPN-like connections to the network, I fail to see how you definitively differentiate between the two.

Opera and BitTorrent (3, Informative)

RonnyJ (651856) | more than 8 years ago | (#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).

http://www.opera.com/pressreleases/en/2006/02/06/ [opera.com]

RCN Hates Bittorrent (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14655011)

Add RCN to that list of crippled ISPs. They started "traffic shaping" bittorrent packets in December in some areas. Caveat emptor.

That's the wrong question (1)

jmichaelg (148257) | more than 8 years ago | (#14655025)

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 protocol doesn't even claim to make it difficult to find out who's downloading a particular file.

His third point is that it'll screw ISP's that cache bittorrent packets to boost overall performance.

I don't take much truck with his 4th point but his other points sound like sensible objections.

ISPs (1)

Aqws (932918) | more than 8 years ago | (#14655032)

Can't you just go with a different ISP then send a polite letter back to the person who was messing with you connection why you left. If it isn't possible to get a different one, then I think that this may be a serious problem. I wonder if I could start my own ISP...

I'm a Shaw BT user (4, Interesting)

0xA (71424) | more than 8 years ago | (#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?

Re:I'm a Shaw BT user (1)

Dster76 (877693) | more than 8 years ago | (#14655100)

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

Yes - Eastlink in the maritimes in Canada uses Ellacoya servers to shape bandwidth. Not only would BT grind to a halt, everything else slowed down, including http. Needless to say, I switched to Aliant.

One thing that gets me is that Eastlink has very loud, obnoxious advertising in which they hit you over the head with 10 Mb/s over and over again. "We are faster than everyone else in your area".

Of course, they makes not a damn bit of difference if the protocol I want to use that bandwidth for gets shut down. Aliant gives me up to 350 kb/s downstream using BT, same price, no download limits. I'm happy to live in a place with an alternative.

I wonder: is packet shaping more common in Canada than the U.S. because of our relaxed legal status with respect to filesharing?

Re:I'm a Shaw BT user (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14655101)

If you were really throttled like us Rogers users, you'd be downloading your bit torrents at a cool 1 KB/s. How's 3 weeks to download a few episodes sound?

Re:I'm a Shaw BT user (3, Insightful)

abscissa (136568) | more than 8 years ago | (#14655196)

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... Rogers is fucking fast)

Using USENET would also really really really cut waaaaaay down on that traffic that is bothering the hell out of the ISPs... (epecially for the cable providers since it all but eliminates the upstream)

Sadly, Rogers no longer offers Usenet services because they are really cheap and greedy, so you have to pay for a premium news server, which is like $9 a month.

Encryption or obfuscation? (3, Insightful)

fpepin (61704) | more than 8 years ago | (#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.

traffic shaping my ass (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14655136)

cox.net straight up won't let you seed
once you get 100% of the torrent all incoming connections are closed

North Continent (0, Flamebait)

turbofisk (602472) | more than 8 years ago | (#14655146)

Hmm... I'm seeing more and more of stupid crap coming from North America, especially ISPs. Buying a connection and getting a limit? Bull. Buying a connection and getting throttled? Bull. Taking payment for mail? Bull. Breaking DNS? Bull. Subscumbing to crazy-people - no .xxx. Bull. Making content-providers pay for getting good thru-put? Bull.

This shit has to stop NOW.

WTF on shared secrets? (1)

autopr0n (534291) | more than 8 years ago | (#14655190)

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 suppose if all you want to do is obfuscate the protocol.)

Finally, I disagree that it's easy to block 'stuff that looks like line nose'. The ISP will have no idea what it is, and there's lots of encrypted information out there, like SSH/SCP, etc. If they just put what they couldn't figure out at the lowest priority, it would piss a lot of people off.

Finally, why not mask the traffic as gziped HTTP, which probably gets the highest priority.
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