P2P downloads of torrents and other programs such as eMule are the order of the day. For the former, we have BitTorrent, which is a method for sharing and downloading content. They are often associated with illegal content, although in reality we can upload and download files of many different kinds. On the other hand, it should be noted that a lot of free software and non-copyrighted content is also shared. In this tutorial, we will explain how to download torrents by hiding the public IP address of our connection to download anonymously.
We will start by explaining what an IP is, what information it reveals about us and why it is important to hide it when using P2P programs like torrent or eMule. We will then go on to explain how to download torrents so that our public IP is hidden for anonymity.
What is an IP adress and the types of IP addresses
An IP address can be defined as a logical and unique identifier for each of the computers connected to a network. These addresses are represented in decimal notation separated by dots, such as, for example, the IP address 126.96.36.199. As for IPs, we could say that there are two types: the public IP and the private IP.
The public IP could be considered as the identifier of our network to the Internet. A peculiarity is that to this type of IP we cannot choose the one that we want. In this case, it is going to be our Internet service provider the one in charge of assigning one to our connection. In this sense, we have two types, one is the static public IP, which is the one that will never change. The other would be the dynamic public IP, which can be changed for another and our Internet provider will be the one who determines when the change is made.
Regarding the private IP, it is the one that identifies each of the devices that we have connected to our home network. Therefore, we refer to those that the router assigns to the PC, smartphones, tablets, Smart TV, and more. The one that affects our anonymity and we want to hide it to obtain anonymity is the public IP.
How to know our public IP and what they can find out with it?
Now let’s find out what our public IP is, that is, the one that identifies us outside our local network on the Internet. We will do it easily using a web page that we will open in our usual Windows browser, Android. IOS or Linux. To do this we will use the web cual-es-mi-ip.net. These are the results I have obtained on Windows 10 with a PC:
Simply by doing this, in addition to the public IP, we get the Internet provider, the country in which we are located, and if our connection goes through a proxy or not. Also in this case it tells us with Static IP that it is static, and, therefore, does not change. If it says nothing, it is dynamic. However, we could still go further and obtain additional information by clicking on the Geolocate IP button.
In addition to the country, it has already added the city, so we can easily locate ourselves in the community of Madrid. If we apply it to download torrents, this can help us to check that we are hiding our public IP. If it is still the same IP, then this method is not meeting our expectations and we are not going to achieve privacy.
Why should we hide the IP address when downloading torrents?
The moment we start downloading torrent files, our IP address is added to a bunch of torrent users who are downloading the same thing. This means that anyone who is sharing the same file can see our IP address. As for who usually monitors this file downloading activity, there are usually two:
- ISPs or Internet Service Providers.
- Copyright protection organizations.
Depending on the country where we are located they have more or less restrictive legislation. In some cases, they establish fines, cut off the Internet connection, and more. The typical case with very strict legislation is the United States. Once it is detected that the law has been infringed, a notice of copyright infringement is sent by e-mail, letter, or legally established means.
For this reason, when downloading torrents, people try to hide the public IP. Either to avoid fines, maintain privacy, or both. In this sense, as we will see below, VPNs and anonymous proxies are the best alternatives to achieve anonymity.
Using a proxy to download torrents
A proxy is a server, program, or device that performs an intermediary function in the resource requests made by a client A to another server C. A classic example is when machine A requests C. The way it will be done is through a request to B that will send the request to C. Thus, the latter will not know that the original request was from A. Then, that response will go through B, which is the proxy, and will send it to user A, who requested that data. Here is a diagram of how a proxy works:
In this way, thanks to proxies, anonymity is achieved. The disadvantages are that we will lose speed, latency will increase and it will take longer to receive our requests.
Whether it works better or worse will depend on the quality of the server and the place where it is located. There are proxy services that allow you to hide the IP and use it for P2P. One of the best known that we can use to download torrents is BTGuard. This proxy can operate with the main BitTorrent clients. One very important thing to keep in mind is that a proxy only makes the use of a particular application anonymous.
Using VPN services to download torrents
In case you don’t know, VPN stands for Virtual Private Network. A VPN offers a network technology that allows a secure extension of the local area network over a public network such as the Internet. The way it operates is by establishing a virtual point-to-point connection, through the use of dedicated connections that are encrypted.
When we use a VPN, the connection is like a tunnel in which our information is encrypted from the point of origin to the point of destination. This makes cybercriminals’ work much more difficult since our Internet connection is more secure. For this reason, RedesZone recommends its use when we are in a public Wi-Fi network.
The advantages of using a VPN are as follows:
- Avoid geographic blocking to view content that is not available on streaming platforms or websites that cannot be viewed in your country.
- Surfing more anonymously by not showing our traffic to our ISP.
- Hide our P2P downloads.
The disadvantage, like the proxy, is that it can slow down the connection speed. For this reason, it is necessary to hire a quality VPN or proxy so that the speed reduction is as small as possible. An important factor is that we cannot use just any VPN to download torrents or watch streaming content. This happens because free VPNs or proxies are usually too slow or have traffic limits. Also, when using a free one, there is a risk that our private data will be sold because they have to make a profit somewhere.