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Im trying to work out if the traffic in the below image is P2P file sharing?

If you notice the source ports are all random but the time 17.24 from c.port 58338 runs for a good length maybe about 400 packets. Is there a way to identify if this is p2p traffic in wireshark?

This is a forensics challenge so it wont look like real world network traffic. It also looks like port scanning to me so this is more of a question related to how to identify p2p network traffic.

enter image description here

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up vote 3 down vote accepted

I'll assume you're talking about BitTorrent, rather than Gnutella or other P2P protocols.

There's no standard port for BitTorrent traffic, so you're going to have to do some digging.

First, BitTorrent talks to a set of trackers. This communication is done over HTTP, and will have (at least) the following headers:

  • info_hash - a URL-encoded hash of the metadata (.torrent) file.
  • peer_id - a URL-encoded random string.
  • port - the port number that the client is listening on - useful for filtering later!

However, sometimes this is done over HTTPS, so it makes it a little more difficult to detect. You should look for any traffic occurring on ports 80 or 443.

Next, you're going to want to look for traffic between peers. The peer handshake nicely provides an easy-to-search header:


The pStrLen field tells us how long pStr is in bytes, and pStr is the protocol identifier. Normally, this is "BitTorrent protocol", so pStr will be 19. You can therefore search for packets that start with 13 42 69 74 54 6f 72 72 65 6e 74 20 70 72 6f 74 6f 63 6f 6c.

Some BitTorrent clients support encrypted client-to-client protocols, but I'd guess that they're not going to be that rough on you for a forensics challenge.


It's possible to identify encrypted BitTorrent traffic using passive statistical analysis. Erik Hjelmvik and Wolfgang John showed techniques for analysing encrypted communications protocols, including BitTorrent. Table 5.4 in their paper shows the confidence level to be 0.965 for MSE (encrypted BitTorrent). Section 6.1 explains some details of the analysis, and mentions a few properties that can be identified with relative ease.

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Very informative, thank you Polynominal. +1 – Garrith Graham Jul 16 '12 at 16:04
Glad it was helpful. I'm pretty sure Wireshark as a module for dissecting BitTorrent peer traffic, too. – Polynomial Jul 16 '12 at 16:12
Really... ok im away to find this now. If you find anything interesting update your answer with it. Im not sure whos answer to pick as correct for this tho :S – Garrith Graham Jul 16 '12 at 17:22
@GarrithGraham I've added some info based on a paper on statistical analysis of encrypted traffic. – Polynomial Jul 16 '12 at 19:33
UDP Trackers are becoming increasingly more common these days (due to less overhead/better performance). There's some details on the protocol here. – Dracs Feb 20 '13 at 2:31

It looks like communication between 2 hosts on a LAN, hardly a P2P. In fact, it looks like a port/service scan by a "security" tool hitting all the popular TCP ports.

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