Protecting yourself against the BitTorrent bandits!
[Update: A few hours after publishing on Digg.com, the blocklist referenced in this article stopped working. The reason for this fluke is a change Bluetack made in response to the huge Digg interest. The article now links to alternate files from Bluetack that are in the correct format. It's the same list as before, but this time it's sure to be in the right format.]
If you've been using BitTorrent to download any of the more popular files, such as the latest episode of some major TV show, you may have found yourself receiving lots of "Wasted" data. This is data that has been discarded after being deemed corrupt or invalid by your BitTorrent client. Every so often, you will have received more wasted data than the size of the files you are downloading!
This is happening because Anti-P2P organizations are actively polluting P2P networks with fake peers, which send out fake or corrupt data in order to waste bandwidth and slow down file transfers. At its worst, when downloading major copyrighted torrents, as much as a fourth of the peers you are connected to can be attributed to various Anti-P2P agencies. There is also a much more serious side to this. Once you've established a connection to one of these fake "peers", your IP has been logged and will most likely be sent to the RIAA/MPAA!
But there is a way to fight back! If you are using the latest µTorrent (1.5), you can employ a little known feature called IP filtering. The author of µTorrent has gone out of his way to hide it, but it's there nonetheless. But before we can activate this filter, we need to retrieve a list of currently known Anti-P2P organization IPs.
This is most easily done by downloading the latest blacklist from Bluetack (the same people who wrote SafePeer for the Azureus BT client) at http://www.bluetack.co.uk/config/nipfilter.dat.gz. This list is updated daily, and contains all known Anti-P2P organizations, trackers and peers, aswell as all known Goverment/Military IP addresses as collected by the Bluetack team. Once downloaded, extract and rename the file to "ipfilter.dat" in preparation for the final step.
To make the list available to µTorrent, you need to put it in %AppData%\uTorrent. So type this into the Address Bar, or click Start -> Run and type it there. After placing the ipfilter.dat in this folder, start µTorrent and go into preferences (Ctrl+P), then click on "Advanced". In the right hand pane, make sure that "ipfilter.enable" is set to true, and then close the dialog. That's it for the configuration.
You can verify that the list has been loaded by looking under the "Logging" tab of µTorrent, where you should see the line "Loaded ipfilter.dat (X entries)".
Congratulations! You are now protected against most of the garbage-distributing peers; and the likelyhood of the RIAA or MPAA knocking at your door has been substantially reduced! I'd go as far as to say that you shouldn't be using µTorrent at all without this feature turned on! And even if the law enforcement side of it doesn't bother you, you should still be interested in reducing the amount of garbage data that gets sent your way, which in turn leads to quicker downloads, and isn't that something everybody should strive for? ;)
Note: It's advised that you update the list at least once a month, to keep you updated on the movement of the Anti-P2P organizations. One tool that will aid you getting these updates is the "Blocklist Manager" from the same people who made the list; go to http://www.bluetack.co.uk/ and download it. On a related note, this note from the µTorrent FAQ should come in handy: "To reload ipfilter.dat without restarting µTorrent, simply open the preferences (ctrl+p), and press enter to close it again."