Torrent Encryption – What You Need to Know

by Josh Biggs in Tech on 9th December 2020

Even with the prevalence of online streaming platforms like Netflix and YouTube, people still turn to technologies such as P2P to download files from the internet. To do that one needs two things. A torrent client and a source from where to get torrent files.

In this piece, we will take a look at why it is so important to have encryption on your torrent client.

BitTorrent is without a doubt a premium platform for file sharing. It allows one user to act as a single source of a given file and distribute it to as many other users as possible. Now you can either be the source or the downloader of the said file. The point you need to understand here is that torrenting is different from normal downloading. Normally, when you want to download something you go to a website and download the file by clicking a link. This is known as undistributed downloading. The source website provided you the file via its servers.

BitTorrent works on the distributive model of downloading in the sense that you rarely download a given file from a single source. If you are downloading a popular enough file then you could be downloading it from hundreds if not thousands of other people spread all over the world. BitTorrent gives rise to swarms where file-sharers get together and use a tracker to share their favorite torrents that you can download piece by piece from different file-sharers. There is no single source in BitTorrent. So all you have to do is join a swarm and get downloading.

Sadly, this gives rise to privacy problems since you don’t know the person you are downloading from. You don’t even know if that is a person even. The file-sharer could be anyone. A hacker, a government agent or a copyright troll. To not get into any legal problems (and save yourself from hackers) you need to hide your BitTorrent traffic and you can do that via encryption. Encryption gets you complete and absolute anonymity if used in the correct manner. We won’t go into the details of achieving torrent anonymity here but we will talk about the things you need to know about torrent encryption.

The benefits of torrent encryption are many. Some are even obvious. Consider the fact that once you achieve torrent anonymity no one will be able to see and record your BitTorrent traffic. No user in your torrent swarm will ever get the opportunity to know your real IP address. A strong enough encryption will even make sure that your internet service provider doesn’t get a whiff at your online activities including torrenting.

Simply put, if you want to use BitTorrent to download files and other types of content without fear then the best way forward is torrent encryption.

Of course, with so many benefits there are bound to be some negatives as well.

The biggest downside of torrent encryption is that it almost always leads to a significant reduction in downloading speed. Keep in mind that this reduction in speed is on top of the reduction in downloading speed you are likely to experience as a result of using tunneling and/or proxy services.

A lot of people won’t mind exchanging downloading speed for anonymity but it is just something you need to think through before going forward with torrent encryption. One semi-solution to the decrease in speed is to use a VPN service that has fast servers. That can sometimes offset the loss in speed due to encryption.

You don’t have to use a VPN service to get proper torrent encryption either. All you really need is a decent torrent client like uTorrent or Tixati and an SSH/proxy provider. Some VPN services do provide a proxy service with their main VPN product so in the end, depending on your situation, maybe signing up for a VPN service would be the best solution for you.

Conclusion

Torrent encryption is important for people who care about their privacy and online anonymity. And while there are many ways to go about it, the easiest is to use a Virtual Private Network service.

Categories: Tech