Saturday, June 13, 2009

BitBlinder: free, anonymous torrenting may be a reality

There are a few widely-accepted ways to anonymize your browsing or torrent activity, but they all have their drawbacks. TOR is free, but it's poor etiquette to use it for torrents and put a strain on the bandwidth of the nice folks who run TOR servers. Not to mention that it's incredibly, stupefyingly slow. You could get a VPN, but that'll cost you. So, what's the solution to making your torrents free and anonymous, without a huge drag on your transfer speeds? A new open source project called BitBlinder might be the ticket.

BitBlinder is sort of like a private tracker for your anonymous data. A private tracker requires you to upload a certain percentage of data compared to what you download, in order to keep using it. BitBlinder works the same way, requiring each person on the network to anonymize a certain amount of data for others in order to have their own data anonymized for free. To keep your IP address safe, it's passed through several peers before it reaches your target website, but each computer only receives the address of the next peer in the chain, not the address the request is coming from. That way, you don't know who anyone else is, and nobody else knows who you are, which makes it difficult for anyone to track what each person on the network is doing.

BitBlinder isn't just good for torrents, though. It can also be used to hide your browsing activity and get around blocked sites at work or school. BitBlinder comes with an anonymous browser, built on Firefox. It's worth noting that BitBlinder will be a bit slower than browsing without anonymity, but still faster than TOR. It's planned as a cross-platform project, but the Mac version isn't ready quite yet. Registration is required, and there are currently a limited number of slots available.

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