The infamous “Ernesto” announces new countermeasures to grab even more of Comcast’s residential network:
BitTorrent throttling is not a new phenomenon, ISPs have been doing it for years. When the first ISPs started to throttle BitTorrent traffic most BitTorrent clients introduced a countermeasure, namely, protocol header encryption. This was the beginning of an ongoing cat and mouse game between ISPs and BitTorrent client developers, which is about to enter new level.
Unfortunately, protocol header encryption doesnâ€™t help against more aggressive forms of BitTorrent interference, like the Sandvine application used by Comcast. A new extension to the BitTorrent protocol is needed to stay ahead of the ISPs, and that is exactly what is happening right now.
As much fun as this sort of thing is, it’s not really going to work. Bram Cohen, the inventor of BitTorrent explains why:
…when it comes to dealing with ISPs, obfuscation is some combination of hostile, unprofessional, and harmful. Software projects which value quality over featuritis generally steer clear of such things, especially when their potential effectiveness level is the equivalent of spitting in one’s face than actual utility.
Oh, and by the way, the amount of CPU necessary to do a diffie-hellman key exchange is enough to be annoying, and if you’re making a connection via a trusted intermediary, like, say, a tracker, or already have a reasonably secret piece of shared information like, say, an infohash, there’s no need to use a diffie-hellman key exchange to establish a shared secret. Imagining that crypto will stop being done by dilettantes is clearly a pipe dream though.
This won’t stop the pirates, of course, but it should cause them to think about what they’re doing. Not that it will.
Note: A reader points out that Cohen’s remarks referred to a previous obfuscation scheme that clearly didn’t work, and suggests the current one will work for some magic reason. I doubt it, because all that Comcast has to do is look for a large number of inbound connections when none are going out. No form of obfuscation will hide that scenario because the traffic stats alone are enough to expose it. I never cease to be amazed by how naive these pirates can be.