Ars Technica has an interesting article about filesharing. It points to a study called Legal, Economic and Cultural Aspects of File Sharing (you just have to search for it on Google – it’s available for free download) done by the University of Amsterdam that shows that people who download large amounts of copyrighted entertainment through BitTorrent are not really freeloaders. These people buy just as many games, songs and movies (alongside of all the stuff they download) as law-abiding citizens.
Nevertheless, downloading copyrighted entertainment off torrents is illegal. You could get caught and punished. If you like to use the torrents for some quick, free entertainment, you need to watch your back and make sure that you are not found out doing what you’re doing. While the tips that follow will help you cover your tracks, they don’t guarantee that you will be untraceable.
Keep your computer on a short leash
Firewall software can be a very important part of downloading torrents discreetly. Not just any kind of firewall will do for the torrent downloader, though. You need special firewall software that is programmed for your needs. PeerBlock, for instance, is programmed with the IP addresses of known antipiracy organizations. It will block any attempt at contact by these organizations.
To be even surer that no one can see what you’re doing, you could connect to the Internet through a Virtual Private Network. You don’t even need to pay for these. There are several free (but unreliable) VPNs available – look for names like GPass and CyberGhost. For reliable service, you need to go with something that’s paid for.
Rent the computer you do your torrenting on
They call these seedboxes. Many torrent clients offer you a private and paid-for remote computer called a seedbox to do your downloading on. Once in a while, you can connect to the seedbox and quickly download whatever you have there. Since the filesharing doesn’t happen on your computer or even in your country, your torrent activity is untraceable to you.
Watch those trackers
Most torrent users get their trackers from a well-known torrent website like The Pirate Bay. These public websites are full of great torrents. Unfortunately, the antipiracy authorities know about them, too. When they wish to spy on downloaders and track them down, these are the websites they go to first.
Instead of going to a free public torrent website, you could go to a private, paid torrent hub. Not only are these hard to spy on, they don’t even reveal your upload and download levels for people to see.
BitTorrent clients like uTorrent offer torrent encryption. You don’t just need to use this feature to not be spied on and caught. ISPs often look out for torrent downloads and try to throttle their speeds. Encrypting your torrents helps you avoid this kind of control.
While you protect yourself in high-tech ways, youshouldn’t forget that often, people get caught in the most low-tech ways – by people looking over their shoulder, for instance. You need to cover all the bases.