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back to article Surge in encrypted torrents blindsides record biz

The legal crackdown and publicity blitz aimed at people who share music, videos and software online may be having an unintended consequence for the troubled record industry. The number of file-sharers disguising their BitTorrent activity with encryption is skyrocketing. Figures from a large UK ISP obtained by The Register show …

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Anonymous Coward

pc plod

will ask them to make the contents of their torrent intelligible, otherwise 2 years in clink chummy. Make that 5 years if you're a muslim.

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Dangerous wording

Some of the wording in the article, such as 'When encryption is used to cloak torrent traffic it tends to be to hide something' seems to imply that if you encrypt torrent traffic then you have something to hide.

This is dangerous ground and I am sure that privacy advocates will have a field day with this type of story.

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Traffic shaping

The levels of traffic shaping being applied by certain ISP's on so-called 'unlimited' services is another reason why people are turning on encryption in their torrent clients - we don't all want to download stuff at four in the morning.

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Alert

ISP's at Fault

As far as i can tell the only reason encryption is on the rise is because ISP's are restricting traffic. this is ISP driven not consumer driven the consumer is not trying to hide anything, just trying to get what they pay for an *unlimited* connection.

after all data is just that! the customer will wrap it any way they choose, it wont be long before the next P2P arrives and packet obfuscation is enabled then packets apear as website email telnet voip etc, data packets how will the isp filter encrypted voip for P2P?

Soon they will be in a right mess with any data on any port, not what the internet needs, but demand drives innovation!

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Silver badge

Own goal

This has been predicted (and is so bloody obvious) and will lead to the situation where the only option the RIAA, etc, have is to pressure for a blanket ban on encryption, an unworkable option given the needs of e-commerce let alone working from home using a VPN, etc.

The unfortunate aspect of this is the greater difficulty of catching kiddy-porn, jihadist beheading videos, and similar nasties.

As for the option of 'pc plod' forcing you to give up your keys, if they differ each time, and most legitimate downloads become encrypted as well (e.g. LINUX distros, paid for or free copyright martial, etc) he/she will soon tire of the effort of going after them unless there is a very good reason to investigate, and not just a bland assertion that "so-and-so is probably stealing music/video/etc but we can't tell cause its encrypted".

RIAA/BPI 1, Technology 2

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Black Helicopters

Encryption to avoid throttling

I believe the main reason punters use encrypted BitTorrent connections is to try and avoid traffic shaping from ISPs, obfusticating the contents of their transfer probably comes second, if it is considered at all.

I am sure I am not alone in getting very annoyed at being made to look like I'm a "bad guy" because I use my internet connection as much as I like, in accordance to the "Unlimited" package I pay for. When I know that my traffic is being intentionally slown down it annoys me greatly - I don't receive any sort of compensation for it: I actually pay them to get in the way of my network utilization. It seems a crazy business-model to me for ISPs to actively discourage their customers from using their network.

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Coat

Oh dear... Couldn't resist...

Does Neil Armstrong view this situation as being one small step for the media industry but one giant leap for Torrent Users?

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Pirate

VPN to the rescue

Pipex use P2P traffic shaping on both unencrypted and encrypted torrent traffic, so naturally I now route my traffic through Sweden via 128-bit VPN for £4 per month. Suddenly 0.5kb/sec download at peak times jumps to my line max, and the promise of 'unlimited' is suddenly restored. Of course, they'll eventually drop the overall connection rate to counter this.

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IT Angle

Legal use

I agree the encryption is most likely due in the main to traffic shaping. It seems to me the trend started right around the time the traffic shaping announcements came out, not around the time the lawsuits started.

I turned encryption on when I learned my ISP throttles torrents, and I live in Canada where it's legal to download any music. I'm not trying to hide anything from the law - just from my ISP who wants to punish me from making full use of the service I'm paying for. I'll be switching to a different provider once I return from vacation.

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Coat

Where will it end?

Will there be a return to the bad old days when performers actually had to perform to get paid? Madness!

It appears to me that the value isn't being driven out of music, it is being driven out of CD distribution.

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Title

"Our internet investigations team, internet service providers and the police are well aware of encryption technology: it's been around for a long time and is commonplace in other areas of internet crime."

Its also commonplace in....

VPNs.

Public/Private key technology.

Some forms of computer account logon

Some forms of wi-fi technology

https

etc, etc, etc...

Gary

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shocker

It's pretty funny really that Law enforcment and the fuck heads that seem to think they're law enforcment (RIAA FACT MPAA and all those other retards) are suprised that the more they spy on us the citizens the we citizens turn to hiding our activites.

I look forward to the day where all communication is encrypted voip, email, im, secure transactions, and yes file sharing. I don't like the idea of people snooping on what I'm doing.

Whether it is hard core girl on girl fisting, my latest revision of an xconq scenario, the newest episode of Minami Ke, a bootleg of a Momoi concert I was at in Germany (which Momoi herself told people to make), the increadibly anti social conversations between me and my mates on IM, the boring mundane conversations I have with people over email at work. I wish for none of it to fall into the hands of mr piggy and his hyper hysterical paranoid hive mind. I also don't want anyone else to know, becouse it's my bloody business.

Sure it means bad people will do bad bloody things, but bad people have always done bad things that's why police are supposed to investigate things not just turn on their packet filter and search for the word "bomb". Do the police and other scum (sadly the police are now not only super paranoid but have huge political power to oppress us the citizens. The police are also just tools for the tabloid media frenzy) go through our mail? Check any DVD that is sent in the post? Sounds like communist Russia and China to me.

I hate them, and I will fight as best I can to protect my privacy, my freedom, and that of others. Even if it means a few more people die in terrorism or are abused.

Anon

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Anonymous Coward

Figures from a large UK ISP

"uploaders swallowed just 20Mbit/s", so... according to adverts that's just one user right? Maybe 3-4 in the real world if you're pushing it. So how large was this ISP again?

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Black Helicopters

Plod and keys

The big problem 'the authorities' will have when, for a variety of reasons, people encrypt their data by default is that they won't know, a-priori, which packets are suspect. They (they being any one of CIA, MI5, RIAA, etc, etc) could spend months tracking down a transfer between and through a number of countries, obtaining warrants and court orders at great expense at each stage, only to find it was some bloke downloading the latest Ubuntu distro.

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Anonymous Coward

Re:Encryption to avoid throttling

I thought those ISP's that do throttle, do so based on how much data you transfer?

If encryption is the way round it, then clearly that's what they'll do.

Of course you might be trasferring stuff over bit torrent that is copyright and you have the right to copy it, in which case the traffic snooper reconstructing the file would actually be in breach of copyright themselves. Not to mention that since this stuff is still the telephone network, bugging laws apply.

I'm, not keen on this blanket licence idea, it sounds like I'm going to end up being forced to pay for something I don't want.

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Dead Vulture

RE: Good Article

i have to say i'm in agreement about the 'comments' point; even though i enjoy reading AO's articles, it points towards a reluctancy to debate.

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Pirate

ISP's driving legit usage underground.

so do ISP's cap the 'illegal P2P' service that the BBC calls winPlayer, oops typo, iPlayer.. HAHA @ ISP's - get your fingers out, people are demanding the supply! and now its not illegal, so stop your whining.

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DMCA

I wonder if we can't use DMCA against them.

If we enable a standardized key like "MAFIAA EXTORTION IS BAD!", and obfuscate it in some braindead way like ROT-13, and then use this as a static key for all our communication, with the intention of "blocking illegal copies of our traffic", couldn't we actually nail the suckers to the wall using DMCA? Afterall they _ARE_ buypassing a copyprotection mechanism! :)

//Svein

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RE:Good Article

I never really reply to the DRM/music/RIAA sort of topics but I have noticed the Orlowski shows tremendous cowardice whenever I glance at his articles. I glance down from the inflammatory posts of his without ever seeing the author and see comment not enabled and realize it is the Ball-less Wonder again.

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Black Helicopters

The war is over!

Looks like Joe Public has lost this war and the 'man' has won again, the same way he won the war on drugs, counterfit jeans, and terror....

When will these ill educated people realise they cant win the man is all powerful...

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@shocker/Anonymous Coward

Sir,

That was the finest angry rant I've read in a very long time.

Respect,

-Fellow anon

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Anonymous Coward

Re: JonB's comment

'I thought those ISP's that do throttle, do so based on how much data you transfer?'

so what your saying is my '8Mbit ADSL max unlimited' connection is actually 8Mbit until I transfer say 2MBits then it is *Limited* to 2MBit/s?? Really? so I should be happy that I got the first say quarter of a second at the rate Im paying for? or is is the first 4 hours of the month?? well Im not. Until ISP's start offering a service that 'Does exactly what it says on the tin' ie not bound by small print (aka fups) then as far as I am concerned they are the ones in the wrong. Trading Standards Take Note!!

PS. Long Live Ronseal! Death to the fuppies...

Dont forget to Leave your BBC iPlayer running it might hog BW but its legal make your point to your ISP!!!

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Black Helicopters

The war is over!

Looks like Joe Public has lost this war and the 'man' has won again, the same way he won the war on drugs, counterfit jeans, and terror....

When will these ill educated people realise they cant win the man is all powerful...

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re: dangerous wording

Uh the danger is only the media perception of "something to hide".

My government has spying on foreign governments. They have something to hide. My bank has private information on me. They have something to hide. The Sony record has NDA's to agree to or to be agreed. They have something to hide. A reporter in China is sending messages out about government atrocities. He has something to hide.

Hell, I'm a bloke with a willy. I have something to hide.

The government may be legitimately concerned about the intent of a foreign body, so the hiding is legitimate. The bank may have to disclose my information to me, but they MUST hide it from anyone without authority. Sony must keep contracts confidential or be in trouble. The reporter could be incarcerated if he's found out. And if I wave my wily around in public, I'll be arrested.

The danger is not the phrase "something to hide" but that it is now taken to mean "something to hide that they shouldn't be doing".

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RE: RE: Good Article

Agreed.

My thoughts on this article? Because you were all dying to hear them...

RE: The last paragraph.

The protocol from The Pirate Bay won't materialise. It's pretty much science.

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re: good article

Heh, he doesn't even go after all big ditributors of illegal file sharing (preferring to lambast mothers who cannot afford many solicitors). He's still not reported on this:

http://www.theinquirer.net/gb/inquirer/news/2007/10/30/fripp-lays-music-industry-rip

EMI are selling downloads of King Crimson music and have no license to do so.

Orlowski is oddly reticent in railing against them.

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Re: Good Article

Bang on the money my friend, at last a halfway decent balanced view unlike the stuff usually served up on this topic by you-know who!

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Encryption does not hide everything

Even with encryption turned on for the client, the nature of the connection is not hidden.

The client will have many outgoing connections to various IPs/ports, and a regular http connection to the tracker over which it announces exactly what it is doing.

announce.php?info_hash=xxxxx&port=12345 is the only thing an ISP needs to effectively cut off the encrypted traffic. Blocking incoming connections is as easy as blocking that port. Blocking outgoing connections is a little more involved, but can be done by faking a tracker request then blocking IP/port combos that are returned.

For proof of copyright infringement, all they would need to do is find the correct info hash on the relevant site and they will know exactly what is being downloaded.

The only way to protect against this is for trackers to run over https. This will reduce the number of peers that can be tracked without some new hardware being bought for the trackers.

Even with SSL in place for the announce, an ISP can still find your port from the unencrypted connections coming in. Even if you drop the connection, they can see a regular, unencrypted BT handshake being sent repeatedly to a certain port.

Not that any of this matters to the mafiaa, as they simply invade the tracker as regular members and gather all the evidence they need, encrypted or not. If you seed a file to an mpaa/riaa machine, they have you.

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Anonymous Coward

re: dpi

if isps are using dpi to spy on us, why cant they use it to block as much mallware as possible?

there are a lot of worms with a standard infection behaivoir that dpi could stop in its tracks...including the older stuff thats *still* seen in the wild. or am i missing something?

and while im on the subject...

blocking all out going access on prt 25? having a port forwarding solution where each isp has a random "input" port that then forwards at port 25? (rewriting the header?)

or should i file that one under "overly simplistic" and "causes more hassle than it would solve"?

discuss ;)

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funny

"When encryption is used to cloak torrent traffic it tends to be to hide something, and attracts greater attention for that reason. If certain ISPs are experiencing disproportionately high volumes of encrypted torrent traffic we expect it is partly in response to a combination of effective ISP abuse teams the enforcement efforts of the police and industry."

This is pretty funny in itself, are we back at the "if you look suspicious, you're probably guilty" way of going about things? if the data's encrypted, they can raise their attention as much as they want, i believe they're not even legally allowed to try and decrypt the packages anyway.

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Typical...

I find it amusing that they effectively used the old 'If you've done nothing wrong then you've got nothing to hide' line.

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Statement from the Wax Cylinder Industry Association

The WCIA wishes to make it clear to all those who seek to pirate material: Encryption is no guarantee that we cannot pursue you. No encryption system is unbreakable, and our expansive team of highly-paid coders can easily work out how to break the shackles of a simple cypher put together by a mere handful of undisciplined hippies. In fact the mere presence of encrypted traffic on your connection is enough to raise suspicion, at which point we will consider it our legal duty to crack open every packet we find to prove what we already assume is true, viz. anyone who uses encryption is doing it to cover illegal activity.

We would also like to remind those who seek to pirate material: Encryption is a guarantee of quality and security. Encryption systems are unbreakable (when ultilised by Big Media), and our small team of highly-arrogant coders is easily able to secure the shackles of a simple cypher under scrutiny by a mere few thousand highly-motivated hippies. In fact the mere presence of encrypted files on your MP3 player is enough to demonstrate that you actively desire more encryption, and makes it our legal duty to install rootkits and gimped drivers, in order to cover the fact that we have no idea how to respond to a changing market within the context of our traditional activities.

The WCIA hopes this message makes our position clear to our custiminals.

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Re: Good Article

"Much better than the ones posted by that jackass Anonymous Coward who doesn't even have the guts to identify himself when insulting someone online."

...I fixed that for you...

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Boffin

Decisions decisions ...

I have BT Broadband ... I'd like to download the latest copy of Ubuntu ...

Now would I like to download it at 300Kb/s or at 30Kb/s?

I think I'll turn on RC4 encryption.

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Stop

Eh...

"When encryption is used to cloak torrent traffic it tends to be to hide something, and attracts greater attention for that reason."

Yeah, just like when I insist on using an "Envelope" when I post a letter, that must mean I'm a bad person.. clearly!

Encrypting data isn't indicative of *anything* beyond wanting your privacy.

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Coat

Alas

Alas we have been fed much deliberate misinformation as a whole from the Record Industry as it star has waned since the peak year of 2000 which coincidently reflected the virtually the last year of the final releases of much of the sixties and seventies back catalogue of Rock Music !

As the RIAA star waned the MPAA star rose in the heavens as the Baby Boomers endorsed the movie DVD as a replacement for the bulky Beta and VHS video cassette tapes as all retail sales figures can attest !

However the Baby Boomers have been exceedingly generous in their payments to the big 4 record labels by purchasing the same licensed music in three major format releases from vinyl to compact cassette(In Car Entertainment/Brazilian Walkman Concept) to Audio CD !

Modern fast home computers in combination with both simple conversion programs can easily convert large stocks of existing Audio CD's to any compressed lossy formats used in the ultra light weight digital audio players !

This unfortunately is an anathema to the major four labels in two ways in they are are now cut out of the loop from reselling the same music license yet again for the fourth time , talk about super profits to be had from the same punter !

The Internet which allows a billion plus users to independently access their favourite local and international musicians and whatever style or remix independently of the current crop of rubbish genres as sold by the big four labels now !

As for the so called recording artists main fortune being derived by sales of CD's that has always been a lie from day one given the standard contracts used by these leeches !

Basically say they whole sale an audio CD for USD $10 which is then retailed for US$20 to the buying public, from which the pay a nominal $1 in royalty payments less all Publicity and Advertising costs and other incidental costs like label art printing and everything else they can think of as well !

One classic example were the annual staff Christmas Parties that RCA held in the fifties and went as far as issuing an invitation to Elvis Presley to attend , guess who's royalty payment fund got the full bill for those affairs prior to it being paid to his agents !

So now if we have the basic unit production costs inclusive of distribution a mere $1-00 the balance is pure record company profits !

Strangely interesting in Canada thanks to a notional tax on all blank recordable CD's irrespective of whether they are used for data back up or not , current studies indicate that active fan based file sharers directly and actively support their favourite local artists in the form of increased concert ticket and direct door merchandising sales thus directly bypassing the record companies !

Imagine if you will in say 2004 when an exceptionally popular artist sells some 13.3 million audio CD's internationally which generates a notional royalty payment of 13.3 million(standard contract ) so investment return of 10% nets $2.6 million over two years then levy assorted label fees say $10 million in addition to the net sales profit of $106 million so the total profit to the record label in question becomes some $116 million over two years . In the some four years prior to royalty payments being paid the same recording artists may have gross concert touring sales of say $50 million so you can see where the real income lies and just how much pure profit they generate from such a sales success at the same time ! And because these royalty payments are deliberately paid in big lump sums the Tax man takes the lions share for that year as well !

Sadly for all , the big four labels are more like very fat vampires sucking the very life's blood out of those that feed them as their greed knows no bounds , but like all bad things the end must come at some point in time like that which happened to "The John Company" as nothing lasts forever , but it does explain why the industry wanted , demanded and got unlimited copyright control rights though in the US but failed in the UK for some unfathomable reason !

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Dam

Glad I upgraded to SSL

Thanks Giganews, you charge a premium, but it's worth it.

And this evening, to upload an ubuntu ISOs on alt.bin and download it 10-12 times in the week, just to make a point about encrypted traffic...

Oh wait, my ISP doesn't throttle, I think I'll just pass, for now.

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Go

Title

"When encryption is used to cloak torrent traffic it tends to be to hide something, and attracts greater attention for that reason. If certain ISPs are experiencing disproportionately high volumes of encrypted torrent traffic we expect it is partly in response to a combination of effective ISP abuse teams the enforcement efforts of the police and industry."

What bollocks. I recently tried a little program called "transmission" that defaults to automatic encryption. I bet there are a heck of a lot of people using this and others that don't even know they are using encryption.

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Flame

Will you pay what it takes ....

for an unlimited connection? As opposed to to a service that is marketed as unlimited*

(*subject to AUP of course! ;-) )

If you want to live in a world where truth prevails and people say what they mean, start by making sure that B Ark is fully populated and blasted off into space. Otherwise just deal with it, stay cynical and assume everyone is lying to you to get your pennies (something I'd figured out when my age was still in single digits)

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Gates Halo

if i EVER owned a piece of music . . . .

. . . on ANY format. I'm covered. Mass consumerism is no reason for us to pay like lemmings for a song/album we already own. WTF? go ahead and change formats, LP, CD, file. I OWN THEM ALL. hahahahaha

an .08 piece of media, and getting charged 15-20 BUCKs!? BITE ME!

Oh and what everyone has said about AO and comments is true.

COWBOY UP, man!

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Black Helicopters

Something to hide

ROFL, so when all traffic is encrypted, everyone's got something to hide, right?

The ISP's don't care, they just want the monkeys off their backs and need to be seen to be doing something.

Will these muppets ever learn?

Off to put lots of things in 'Envelopes' ;p

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I've stopped buying music

But I don't steal it either. I won't start buying music again until I've got guarantees on quality and freedom of use. If I buy a CD I expect to be able to rip it's contents and play it on an mp3 device with no loss in quality and without the need for any sort of software, and without the worry that rootkits will be installed on my PC.

If I buy from download services I expect to be able to use that music on any device without the need for validation, license keys or whatever other method the music industry deliberately designed to force people to have to re-purchase the same content every few years.

So tough - the music industry can wither and die for all I care. I'm fed up of being called a thief and threatened with prison every time I buy any sort of music or video content, so until the threats, drm and spyware goes away they won't be getting a fucking penny from me.

Same goes for movies. Fuck 'em all, they've been given a free ride to rip people off for too long. HD movie formats deserve to fail, and hopefully will take some of the worst offenders down with them.

Haven't bought a DVD, Blu Ray disk, video game, CD or any sort of download for 4 months, and I don't see anything worthy of changing that decision. The content is mostly shite anyway, I can't be the only one that's noticed how poor these things have become.

As for games, there are only 4. Sure each corporate produces their own 'skin' to give the illusion of difference, but if you've bought 4 games in the last 4 years, you have them all.

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Coat

@Simon Holt

I thought he said "That's one small step for the media, one giant leap for Torrent Users".

Split the fare?

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I wonder

Hmm, given the proclivity of Broon's Loonies to legislate everything (jokes about gays, the maximum permitted amount of actual seafood in fish fingers, etc.), I wonder how long it'll be until UK citizens are required to have a license and operating permit to use encryption?

Of course, the gov. (actually Capita) will need time to carry out a study first. However, I'm pretty confident that they (Capita) will recommend such a course of action and, coincidentally, they (Capita) will become the licensing authority.

Actual licenses will be granted following an exhaustive investigation which will include analysis of the applicant's fingerprints, blood, intentions and friends. Once approved, applicants will be granted a license* to use encryption upon payment of a fee estimated to be 5 million pounds. Per annum.

(Naturally, said license will be conditional upon the application lodging the key with Capita and only renewing the key on approval from Capita and on payment of 5 million..............oh well, you know where this is going.)

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Legit usage?

So when a co-worker is out for six weeks of maternity leave and uses our VPN for 8 hours a day, that's...carry the five... 40 hours of encrypted traffic a week. Are they going to shut her connection down?

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Anonymous Coward

If RIAA attempted to view encrypted source, wouldn't they be violating DRM?

It seems like encryption is the way to go... maybe work out a pooled key resource server... and safe from procecution, too. Seems to me that if the RIAA tried to decrypt content to verify non-compliance, then they would be violating the DRM themselves. Cool.

As far as I'm concerned... if you are sharing files, and NOT using a wireless connection OTHER THAN YOUR OWN, you're dumb.

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(Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

For readers new to El Reg...

Apologies to regular readers, but there are some newcomers here.

Everyone who writes to me gets a reply - so long as you're not a nutter, or a Martian.

It takes a fair bit of time out of each day, which is why journalists everywhere prefer comments: they don't have to read them. But I've always found it well worth the investment. Offline debate is one of the best things about the job here.

It's doubly worth it these days as I get a lot more good tip-offs.

If you simply want to make a statement (or meta-statement about making statements), I can recommend some blog services.

(I hear WordPress is very good.)

For everyone else, the address is andrew.orlowski@theregister.co.uk - you can just click on the byline. See you there ;-)

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Black Helicopters

Simple counterpoint

I'll make all my data available to the RIAA if they beleive that hiding information is tantamount to admitting guilt against some kind of law once all their artists remove NDAs from all staff, allowing anybody to say anything about what they have done, photograph them without makeup and sell the pictures, talk about drug/alchohol problems without fear of being sued into oblivion

Because musicians are such upstanding citizens and would never stoop to breaking drugs laws or speeding or drink driving or smoking in enclosed spaces or assulting people or having their 'minders' assult other people.

We should also have access to all communication from the artist, management, record label etc just in case they want to stitch the public up with predatory pricing, restrictive practises etc.

Yeah like that's going to happen.... thats almost like a level playing field

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re: Simple counterpoint

"We should also have access to all communication from the artist, management, record label etc just in case they want to stitch the public up with predatory pricing, restrictive practises etc."

Excellent point ^_^

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