AfterDawn: Tech news

ISP's battle against encrypted BitTorrent downloading

Written by Ben Reid @ 02 Sep 2006 4:13 User comments (34)

ISP's battle against encrypted BitTorrent downloading When BitTorrent technology was first introduced, it was great for those who wished to share large files very quickly. Internet Service Providers (ISP's) however, didn't see it in quite such a positive light, as the majority of their bandwidth was consumed by BitTorrent traffic. As a response, some ISP's, such as Canadian provider Shaw began throttling the service, so BitTorrent clients such as Azureus added a feature that encrypted torrent traffic in an effort to circumvent these ISP roadblocks.
Now, a company called Allot Communications has developed a new hardware product, the NetEnforcer, which it claims is the first device that will identify and throttle encrypted BitTorrent traffic. According to a spokesperson for the company, the NetEnforcer utilizes deep packet inspection technology "to identify and analyze hundreds of applications and protocols, track subscriber behavior, prioritize traffic and shape traffic flows."

On one hand, increasing BitTorrent traffic is most definitely a problem for ISPs. In early 2004, torrents accounted for 35 percent of all traffic on the Internet. By the end of that year, the figure had almost doubled, and some estimate that in certain markets, such as Asia, torrent traffic uses as much as 80 percent of all bandwidth.

On the other hand however, BitTorrent is an extremely important tool that has many uses other than what most assume it is good for, namely piracy. Being able to deliver large files such as game demos, upgrades, and free video using a decentralized source makes it possible for small distributors to deliver their content to a wider audience without going bankrupt from the bandwidth bill.

Bram Cohen, mastermind behind the BitTorrent technology, believes that efforts by ISP's to make an "obfuscated" version of BitTorrent are harmful to not only the ISPs but the protocol itself. "Most ISPs don't do such shaping, and attempts at obfuscation won't work for long," he warns. He aslo explains that many such methods end up eliminating any performance advantages caused by their ISP caching popular torrents. But his main point is to not bite the hand that feeds you. "When it comes to dealing with ISPs," he concludes, "obfuscation is some combination of hostile, unprofessional, and harmful."

You can read Bram Cohen's "Obfuscating BitTorrent" journal in full here.


Previous Next  

34 user comments

12.9.2006 5:09

is this good or bad news for people who download stuff not saying that i do

22.9.2006 5:40

Bad, of course. It means that if you have an ISP that detests BitTorrent, your download speeds are going to be limited even more. I find it utter bull**** that ISPs throttle connections at all.

32.9.2006 6:03

When the ISPs start losing those customers i bet they stop doing that though.

42.9.2006 7:27

My ISP has stopped throttling now, P2P makes up 60% of their network traffic and they soon realised if they stopped that then they would have 60% less profits. Unless they are forced i hope many won't run this.

52.9.2006 9:49

I think the ISPs should back off its not their place to "POLICE" or be vigilantes,they have basic rules dont terrorize others or hack and dont go over your bandwidth limit.

its up to the POLICE and FBI and thos that create Internet proticals to govern the net.....all this will do is more the ISP more and more libale to the 4th Rike.......

This message has been edited since its posting. Latest edit was made on 02 Sep 2006 @ 10:01

62.9.2006 9:53

ISPs throttling traffic is bullsh*t. We pay terrible prices for the ability to download files quickly. Having a broken hard drive and having to wait for 12 hours to get a Knoppix image to recover the files you need to have for the presentation tomorrow is just unacceptable.

72.9.2006 9:57

Finnisher thats because in the US the coperation is always right...its funny japan made sure their broadband was watched as it grew and from little to no boardband they now have a overall better setup then we do...if you don't over sight the fing company's they will never get sht done....

82.9.2006 13:04

But his main point is to not bite the hand that feeds you.
He should be telling this to ISPs, not customers.

92.9.2006 13:12

Two different Viewpoints: 1.)"BitTorrent traffic is... a problem for ISPs" 2.)"BitTorrent is an extremely important tool that has many uses" "In certain markets, torrent traffic uses as much as 80 percent of all bandwidth" My viewpoint: Bittorrent=Internet In other words, Bittorent is a tool/implementation of the internet itself. I would hope that as more ISPs get their heads out of the stone-ages, they will realize that Bittorent is, at present, what drives their business and allows them to make money. It is synonymous with their business purpose. I believe the 80% number proves that. This should not be viewed as "a problem." The only problem is it points up the fact that ISPs may have to upgrade their networks in order to keep up with the demand for additional bandwidth for the masses. As more users become savvy, bandwidth usage is inevitable, whether or not Bittorent is still around. I find it encouraging actually, given the open/fair/sharing nature of bittorent and similar clients, that they are so popular. Tools like this are obviously what the people want, and the businesses that can deliver them will be successful.

102.9.2006 14:00

TO cripple the net so the RIAA can enforce IP's is silly and will lead to stagnation in technologies and the internet itself.

113.9.2006 11:46

The point central to all of this is that 'big international commerce' thinks the internet should just be one great big mall in your living room/house. That's why adsl is so crappy when it comes to uploading anyways. Those guys with their little 'marketing projections' and ideas of how it all should work are just trying to get control back over something that has gone way beyond their control. Like someone said, bittorrent is so much of the internet it practially IS the internet. They're never going to get control back without destroying the net......and if they try and do that 'the people' will just move on to something else leaving an empty and pointless - and most of all profitless - piece of unpopular garbage. Their choice.

123.9.2006 11:58

hughjars They would rather destroy..... look at the M.A.F.I.A they are happy to whack off their arms or a leg to stop the sharing 0_o

135.9.2006 12:24

hughjars - you have hit the part of the nail. i think we are being lead to believe its comapnies trying to control the net... but i dont think they could all think the same way at similar times! do you. i think its a matter of controling the masses... but it only takes one isp to break the mould... and they would be market leader... unless they arnt allowed and laws come into force making isp run certain programs all very.... controlling ;-)

145.9.2006 12:31

why doesn't some ISP use a smart throttling program to throttle unused bandwidth to thos that need it and sell their new service as throttle and limit free? Atho unless its a bif ISP I would think a smaller ISP would be devoured *L*

156.9.2006 17:15

I just hate these bad news.... :(

168.9.2006 15:05

I wonder what Vint Serf has to say about all of this (He was co-creator of the WWW) Especially how using Bittorrent could be used for a lot of things other than what people assume (ie RIAA, MPAA re Piracy) I don't know but it seems to me that the RIAA and MPAA are afraid of change and progress. Bittorrent is just another transportation protocol that improves the way people work and play.

178.9.2006 16:24

My only use of the internet is my downloading via Bit Torrent. I'll cancel my service if this happens and so will many others.

188.9.2006 17:04

animefan lucky I am in a rual aera theres dial up and DSL if you are lucky enough to be close to the city,when I was in a bigger city you had 2 choices DSL and Cable LOL god I miss the city *L*

198.9.2006 17:43

try freenet its a subnet sharing client.And to RIAA may the fleas of the world infest your armpits and drive u crazy.

209.9.2006 8:25

Shaw cable is a big pile of turd to start off... They charge 40$ a month for 4mps tansferspeed, but you never get get it... When 1st comng out they had super fast speed amazing, but as the grew bigger and had customers there speeds decreaseed and there is next to nothing for bandwidth... Meaning you cant dled sometihng and browse the net without sacrificing speed... Personally they are in no position to limit speeds even more. Why dont the elaberate this and make iet work for all the gay advertzements and shit that pop up all the time, why dont you cut their speed in hald... F**** Shaw and all other ISPs that wanna be gay... There are other options to go to, and switching to dialup is soon gunna be faster and cheaper... Keep up your fine work

219.9.2006 12:22

What suprises me is that no one in this thread discussed the fact that the issue is really all about the diversity of the ISP customer base. If every customer of an ISP was downloading or seeding an upload at all times, the cost of building an infrastructure to handle that much traffic would cost zillions of dollars per user. To those of us who "use" our available bandwith, stop complaining, thank our neighbors who just surf the web and email. THEY are the only ones keeping the prices of service where it currently is.

229.9.2006 14:43

Zillions.....I doubt that, in fact there is no such thing as a zillion. If it weren't for the uploading and downloading of music and video the net would have 75% less subscribers. I used to work for Comcast, when they started throttling bandwidth and placing upload/download caps on subscribers they lost 25% of there subscription base in the first quarter.

239.9.2006 17:06

thanks for info and the warning .

2430.10.2006 17:00

A lot of you are commenting on internet situations that aren't similar to other people's (including mine). My ISP has given me a set amount of their cable wiring, allowing me to download up to 15 megs or so, and never dropping below 10 megs. If I download 15 megs everyday, all day, it wouldn't hurt my neighbor, because I have been given this amount from the beginning. I pay quite a bit, but it is well spent. My ISP should only complain if they get a complaint from some 3rd party observer. I don't torrent illegal items, and won't, but the point still stands none-the-less.

2531.10.2006 1:30

shadow222 Not all ISPs have open FAP policies most try and hide it so they can throttle thier bandwidth as they see fit.

261.11.2006 2:06

If my ISP throttles BT I'll just cancel it and go to dial up.

Spellcheck is a nice invention.
Using BitVomit hurts the swarm your in, get a decent client.

271.11.2006 2:57

gah... >:( grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr. Angry, angry. Go away leave us BT users alone, grrrrrrrrrrrr. If only there was an ISP that was setup purely for BitTorrent users, that would be great. The Internet is supposed to be freedom but it is more like a war zone for software and programs.

288.12.2006 13:03

I agree that if I am PAYING for 9 Mbps of bandwidth then I should be allowed to do with that little lane on the info hiway as I see fit within the constraints of the law of course lol. The problem is this. When the ISPs set up their services they recognized a simple 'fact'-- not everyone is going to be maxing out their usuage 24/7. In fact MANY people don't even touch the limits of their bandwidth. They based their infrastructure on this premise and they devised a prices tier based on it as well. So for instance lets say that you're an ISP with a max pipe of 40 Mpbs and you have 6 customers who all want 10Mbps speed. You know that you don't have that amount of capacity BUT due to the 'fact' mentioned above this allowed them to say that while Customer 1 is maxing out his pipes customers 2,3,4 may not even be doing nothing at all or just reading news or email and so the pipes do not burst when customers 5 and 6 jump online. HOWEVER you see the problem when all 6 people decide to have their PC's using BT, DC++ etc 24/7 downloading and upoloading whatever with max bandwidth being used. Under these circumstances the 'rules' have changed and the ISP would have to adjust accordingly; either through raising prices, throttling back users, more infrastructure or any combination of a number of options. I believe that is what user MP3Music was trying to say. The reason YOU are able to get the bandwidth you do at the price you do is because of those people who do not come close to using the bandwidth they are paying for. You do not neccessarily 'use' the spare space in their pipes but they are subsidizing yours by paying for infrastructure they are not using. Theoretical here: If each person in a group of 100 who receives 10 Mbps pays $50 for a combined ACTUAL use of say 500 Mbps (on AVG each person uses 5 Mbps)in a 750 Mbps pipe what would the cost be to the ISP (and user) if all 100 users decided to download 24/7 and now try to push 1Tbps through that 750 Mbps pipe? What happens if there is 200 users and 100 max out the pipe and the other 100 are as slow as syrup trying to read the news. They didn't need that 5-10 Mbps but they paid for it so they didn't have to be slow doing the piddly things they do online... End result? The ISP need to allott REALISTIC bandwidth to EACH customer and not overbook their pipes figuring that most people won't use what they are paying for. (phew.. that was like writing a novel lol)

298.12.2006 13:08

double postings

This message has been edited since its posting. Latest edit was made on 08 Dec 2006 @ 13:19

308.12.2006 13:15

duckNrun they say one thing and give another Sat net is a good way to see where things could go I pay 100 a month for a 120KBPS down 15-20KBPS up line what I get is something thats more like dailup you do 300-400MB then you get put on the slow lane for 4 hours while the 300-400 refill at a 6KBPS rate and your speed is caped at KBPS. sale not what they say ,do other things with bandwidth and money they do. all I can say is fap is the wave of the future how they manage it is anyone ones guess I would be happy with 50KBS and 2GB a day or something reasonable like that...........

318.12.2006 13:23

That was my point and what I see as the problem. It's the same theory as the airlines do. Overbook and then bump someone. Problem is most people don't like getting bumped from a flight and most people don't like getting bumped from THEIR portion of the pipe! People should be able to use their purchased bw as they see fit! If I use my 5 Mbps for streaming movies, VOIP, BT or to justsplit across my 5 PCs that connect so be it! Cox offered me a trial at 9 Mbps I accepted but didn't notice any real diff. Of course I don't download all day or game online. So when my trial was up I reduced my speed back to where it was. I don't want limits on how much I can use the net, give me one monthly bill and let me surf as fast as I am willing to pay.

328.12.2006 13:31

duckNrun thats the key "speed" and not "amount",they see amount over speed, I see speed over amount I would even be happy with 30KBPS down 10up and pay 80 a month for it just don't fing screw with the speed. As it is now most ISPs have a 10-40% throttling system,its more bandwidth leveling than throttling but sooner or later they will start lieing about speed like the Sat nets do.

339.12.2006 7:18

duckNrun Thanks for the novel, you did describe in detail the point I was trying to make. Having recieved my second one of these : "After careful analysis of recent usage data, it has been determined that your cable Internet account consumes bandwidth in excess of what is considered normal for the modem package that you are paying for. The usage recorded for your account during the month of October indicates activity that is not in accordance with the guidelines of our Acceptable Use Policy (AUP) located at Please review your computer system(s) and your usage patterns immediately for any activity you think might cause your account to exceed the usage totals reported by 99% of our cable Internet customers. xx(my isp)xx will compare utilization statistics for this month against past usage statistics for your account to reach a conclusion on a course of action to be taken. If you receive a second notice of excessive bandwidth usage, you will be asked to either upgrade to a higher speed residential package or a PenTeleData commercial service account. If you do not choose one of these options, your account may be suspended." What really cracked me up, was one of the so called solutions is to go with a higer speed plan. :-) Like that would solve the issue. Actually I did make some phone calls to my isp and got one the the techs to actually tell the the trigger level on my plan, and the faster one has a higher total traffic limit. (and price).

349.12.2006 13:54

MP3Music now make it where they put you on 6KBPS for 5 hours for daring to download 400MB and you got sat net...well that and 1-5min outages 1-4 times a week.

Comments have been disabled for this article.

Latest user comments

News archive