It seems that if you download a file via torrent, each downloader can see other downloaders IP addresses. I also noticed that my (windows) pc's name was sometimes displayed briefly.

How does one keep the IP private ?


DNS resolves domain names to IP addresses. IP addresses are the endpoint identifier so that TCP/IP can create a connection from the source computer to the destination computer, therefore has to be available for the protocol to use.

Hiding your IP in the final connection is like asking your mailman to use ESP to read where the letter is supposed to be delivered.

Things like TOR or properly set up proxy servers can be used to prevent the server end of the connection and most of the head of the chain from knowing the IP on the client end of the connection by passing messages between multiple computers and reassigning the origin addressing, but the TOR endpoint or proxy server still has to know your IP address in order to deliver the message on the final leg.

Using something like TOR with Torrents is next to impossible because of the many to many connections necessary in the seeding and transfer process. Multiple computers have to know your IP address in order to deliver the payload. No address, no delivery.

In real life, you hide your physical mail address by arranging for delivery to a CMRA, having someone pick it up from general delivery at the post office and putting it in a ground spike in your front lawn, renting a box at your local UPS store for package delivery, etc.

So, how would you do that with computers? Bit Torrent out of your local public access WiFi hotspot, use your Company computers to download and store the information, have someone else do the download and shove into a DropBox, etc. Some of these will have serious repercussions if they involve theft of services, but basically if you want to hide your IP, you do what TOR does, use someone else's IP.

Humor me by next asking how to hide your IP address from your ISP...

  • okay, i won't ask that...but is it possible :P – FirstName LastName Jan 19 '13 at 8:29
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    There are a couple recently released services that offer proxying for BitTorrent. You'll need to do your own research to find out if they completely proxy everything including the many-to-many connections that BitTorrent must use to enable seeder to client traffic flow. TorrentReactor and TorGuard (not to be confused with TOR) are a couple names to plug into Google. If the proxies are set up properly so they don't pass on IP connection information, then your link to them will include your IP address, but it won't be passed on to the other end of the proxied connection. – Fiasco Labs Jan 19 '13 at 18:53
  • Not only is torrenting over Tor impractical in the first place, but many Tor exit nodes use traffic shaping to block BitTorrent traffic. The Tor model isn't suited to high bandwidth traffic. – Tom Marthenal Jan 20 '13 at 7:46
  • Exactly... Which is why the recently announced BitTorrent proxies. Given the way BitTorrent works, I'd want to do a lot of probing to make sure ALL the BitTorrent traffic is really being proxied. – Fiasco Labs Jan 20 '13 at 22:12

You can't really keep your IP private if you're using a torrent on the open internet. The reason for this is the way the torrent protocol works. You aren't downloading directly from the server; instead, you are downloading from other downloaders. In order to get a file from said downloader, you must have some way to contact them - that is, an IP address or domain name.

There may be a possibility to use a privacy network such as TOR to avoid having your IP address found, but I don't know how to do it.

  • Ok, to get around that, we could program the torrent client to hide the ip of one user from the other. It should not be too hard to implement, right ? – FirstName LastName Jan 19 '13 at 7:57
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    I don't understand how you mean that. If you are to receive data from anyone, they need to know your IP address, or the address of some system that is configured to transfer data to you (some sort of proxy), in which case they will know the address of the proxy, which will in turn know your address. – Kevin Lacquement Jan 19 '13 at 7:59
  • I mean, the client software such as vuze, u-torrent should not display IPs. That could prevent the average user from finding out other people's IP. Assume that the client software does this. In that case, how do we find out ip of other downloaders ? Wireshark ??? – FirstName LastName Jan 19 '13 at 8:04
  • Wireshark would be able to find the IP address of other clients. You could also connect directly to the tracker (I don't know the protocol off the top of my head) to get a list of all its client IP addresses - these will be the other members of your swarm with whom you are sharing file parts. – Kevin Lacquement Jan 19 '13 at 8:06
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    the client software such as "spew" should not display IPs. He, he, um, security by obscurity, in other words, if you put a blanket over the eyes of the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal, it proceeds to think you don't exist because it can't see you. The OS has to be given the IP addresses so its IP stack can communicate. Netstat, et.al. are all available to find the IP addresses and also various system calls, freely available traffic analysis utilities, etc. Sysinternals will do an endrun around this obscurity in a heartbeat. The average person knows a blanket doesn't cause existence loss. – Fiasco Labs Jan 19 '13 at 8:35

In addition to what Fiasco Labs said, there are a few VPN services names I could give you because I have used them myself that support P2P downloads, such as ivacy.com or iblocklist.com (phantompeer).

These VPN services do not have many options and often don't offer many VPN protocols, but at the very least you are guaranteed that they don't log any of your connection history or online activity. See this article and this article for more info.

  • Not only do you want to be assured no logging occurs, you also will need assurance that your ISP isn't logging and doing traffic pattern analysis. – Fiasco Labs Jan 20 '13 at 22:18

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