It is a well-known fact that copyright protection organizations are watching torrent file downloads, spying on users who download their materials.

Now, according to Aymeric Vitte, there might be a way to detect these torrent spies, and even block them from harvesting torrent peering activity.

Instead of focusing on discovering these unwanted agents using trackers, Mr. Vitte proposes a new method that uses the users themselves and the DHT protocol.

Two level of torrent spies

In his research, Mr. Vitte shows how torrent spies are organized into two levels. The first level is the biggest and is spread all over the BitTorrent network, gathering information on peers and their connections.

The second level is much smaller but it is where users usually end up when wanting to download a bobby-trapped torrent.

As Mr. Vitte explains, users that are caught in this honeypot can have a legal defense for their actions. Because there is no technical distinction between users who download a torrent to check its content and the users who download and then start peering the file, one can always claim the first scenario as his legal defense.

There are several ways to block torrent spies

Because spies monitor any torrent hash, they can get their hands on, finding them is not difficult at all. On the other hand, blocking them is.

Since torrent spies usually change IP addresses on a regular basis, blocklists usually don't work unless they're updated in real-time.

That's why, according to Mr. Vitte, some changes are needed to the BitTorrent protocol itself, changes needed to prevent automated bots from following user activities on the peering network.

Until then, other solutions like using a VPN or proxy are recommended, along with the option of using the open source Torrent-Live client, a BitTorrent client created to work around a dynamic and real-time blocklist developed by Mr. Vitte in correlation with his research.