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The Internet Networking

Researchers Warn of Possible BitTorrent Meltdown 294

Posted by kdawson
from the domino-effect dept.
secmartin writes "Researchers at Delft University warn that large parts of the BitTorrent network might collapse if The Pirate Bay is forced to shut down. A large part of the available torrents use The Pirate Bay as tracker, and other available trackers will probably be overloaded if all traffic is shifted there. TPB is currently using eight servers for their trackers. According to the researchers, even trackerless torrents using the DHT protocol will face problems: 'One bug in a DHT sorting routine ensures that it can only "stumble upon success", meaning torrent downloads will not start in seconds or minutes if Pirate Bay goes down in flames.'"
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Researchers Warn of Possible BitTorrent Meltdown

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  • by Bearhouse (1034238) on Friday February 13, 2009 @10:48AM (#26843373)

    Might force more people to 'member-only' or subscription sites, for a short time, is all.

    Meanwhile, isohunt (among others) is going strong.

    Finally, could also push more people into IRC, which I'm sure the MAAFIA would just adore.

    • Thats an index >.

      The problem is that so many torrents rely on piratebay as a tracker.

      Piratebay tracks a large portion of torrents and just like when the mininova index went down, all other trackers and possibly even indexes will collapse under pressure.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Bearhouse (1034238)

        Thats an index >.

        Aware of that - but check out the trackers on isohunt; plenty of options other than Piratebay. If it goes down, people will use the alternatives, simple as that.

        How long did it take to recover from mininova? Not long...

        • by commodore64_love (1445365) on Friday February 13, 2009 @01:02PM (#26845633) Journal

          >>>How long did it take to recover from mininova? Not long...

          Or Demonoid? Or niteshdw.com? When those went down, my torrent program immediately switched to dht: and was able to build a database of ~500,000 users. I continued downloading and seeding demonoid/niteshdw torrents for MONTHS.

          There were only two demonoid torrents which failed to complete with dht:, so I used isohunt to find a backup tracker, and switched to that. The second torrent had no backup tracker, so I uploaded the file to torrentstorm and within days it was alive again.

          Eventually I was able to complete downloading everything, despite RIAA's shutting down the trackers.

    • Indeed. isoHunt(and many other p2p search engines) cross reference via the infohash, and add the other trackers that it finds that infohash on to the torrent file. Redundancy is nice.

      - Shadow
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by cjb658 (1235986)

      Finally, a simple, permanent solution to the piracy problem.

      Nothing to see here, move along...

  • Tag this FUD (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Spazztastic (814296) <spazztastic@@@gmail...com> on Friday February 13, 2009 @10:49AM (#26843395)

    The internet is resilient, and someone somewhere will pick up the slack that could be left by TPB going down. There's enough trackers out there to lend a hand.

    Solution? Support The Pirate Bay. Don't download? Support them anyway for the things they do to battle the MAFIAA and other evils.

  • by DontLickJesus (1141027) on Friday February 13, 2009 @10:49AM (#26843411) Homepage Journal
    Forgive the crudeness, but this is bull. Bit Torrent has survived a major tracker shutdown before (Please see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Suprnova.org [wikipedia.org]). Traffic will redirect, other trackers will open in their place, and things will return to normal within a week.
    • by Gizzmonic (412910) on Friday February 13, 2009 @11:27AM (#26844045) Homepage Journal

      Did you just say "bull"? That's no kind of language for a distinguished web forum like Slashdot! You wash your mouth out with soap, young man!

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by dkleinsc (563838)

        I wouldn't worry about it: we've used the word "Belgium" on this distinguished web forum on many occasions.

    • by jambarama (784670)
      I think the very resilience of these p2p networks to seizures (TPB in 2006), shutdowns (from grokster to suprnova), attacks of all kinds (see mediadefender) - speak to their incredible value. I'll bet bittorrent is one of the easier ways to disseminate prohibited information through the great firewall of china.

      If I was a policy maker and knew of a communications network that was this easy to setup and this hard to disrupt and shutdown, I'd want to ensure it stayed around, especially when times are less
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by shish (588640)
        Bittorrent is hard to shut down for legal reasons; technically, blocking a given torrent isn't much harder than blocking a given website. From what I've heard, things like tor and freenet are more resilient, even after the government gives the ISPs permission to do whatever it takes to block them.
      • by Jafafa Hots (580169) on Friday February 13, 2009 @12:14PM (#26844851) Homepage Journal

        If I was a policy maker and knew of a communications network that was this easy to setup and this hard to disrupt and shutdown, I'd want to ensure it stayed around, especially when times are less stable.

        You're making the unfounded assumption that policy makers WANT communications networks that are hard easy to set up and hard to disrupt (control) or shutdown.

        They want to control what you see and hear while preserving the appearance of freedom and choice. Will it be profitable for the elite if we invade a helpless country? Our "free press" will ensure that while flipping channels you'll get both sides of the story. 1: "they are a major and immediate threat and we need to invade immediately with massive force and occupy them permanently," or 2. "they aren't quite that big of a threat, we need to invade more cautiously with a smaller force and only occupy them for a few years."

      • by billcopc (196330)

        What ever happened to decentralized trackers ? I remember reading something about the TPB guys working on the next big thing, shortly after the dirty cops confiscated their servers a few years back.

        I think the bittorrent system has reached a point where enough people are involved that a shared, decentralized system could be made to work reliably. Something like taking the existing setup of web forum, tracker and membership database, and prop it up on top of a P2P overlay network generously supplied by sit

    • by nedlohs (1335013) on Friday February 13, 2009 @11:34AM (#26844181)

      Which part of "nor did it operate any BitTorrent trackers" do you not comprehend in (from your wikipedia link):

      "Suprnova did not host any of the shared files, nor did it operate any BitTorrent trackers for long. It offered the ".torrent" meta files which would tell a BitTorrent client where it could find the BitTorrent tracker."

    • by melikamp (631205) on Friday February 13, 2009 @12:20PM (#26844955) Homepage Journal

      Within a week? I wouldn't expect to wait that long.

      1. mininova.org
      2. torrenthound.com
      3. btmon.com
      4. monova.org
      5. torrentportal.com
      6. torrentreactor.net
      7. fulldls.com
      8. bittorrent.am
      9. extratorrent.com
  • by carterhawk001 (681941) on Friday February 13, 2009 @10:53AM (#26843459) Journal
    As I recall, one of the guys running the site said they had made arrangements such that the actual hardware is no longer under their direct control, so even if they are all found guilty, it would be outside their ability to shut it down, even if ordered to do so by a court.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      so even if they are all found guilty, it would be outside their ability to shut it down, even if ordered to do so by a court.

      You can damned well guarantee that a jail term for failure to comply will suddenly make it possible. I doubt there's many torrent tracker site owners and admins willing to serve jailtime for it.

      • by shish (588640)

        You can damned well guarantee that a jail term for failure to comply will suddenly make it possible. I doubt there's many torrent tracker site owners and admins willing to serve jailtime for it.

        If they do have some control, then they can use it and avoid jail; if they truly don't, is "failing to shut down a server you don't own" a crime? Your scenario only makes sense if it can be proved that they have control, and even after proof being found, they refuse to do it~

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by TheLink (130905)

        http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/sweden/1476548/Swedens-jail-reforms-are-put-on-hold.html [telegraph.co.uk]

        Quote: Almost as soon as he was caught, Saddam Hussein, the former Iraqi president, asked to be allowed to serve out his time awaiting trial in a Swedish jail. "Prisons in Sweden seem to be more comfortable than in other places,"

  • by flagg9483 (940242) on Friday February 13, 2009 @10:58AM (#26843529)
    With Pirate Bay shut down that means that uploaders will move on to better trackers - PRIAVTE trackers - which have higher quality control, fewer trojans, and ratio requirements.
    • by Andy Dodd (701) <atd7&cornell,edu> on Friday February 13, 2009 @11:14AM (#26843819) Homepage

      The problem with ratio requirement sites is if you download content "later" (e.g. not in the first day of release), it is sometimes impossible to keep a good ratio no matter how much you try to seed since no one is downloading.

      As an example, at one ratio site they had 8 torrents that I was able to get from other sources and one that I wanted. Even after 2-3 days of seeding those 8 torrents, I didn't have enough credits to fully download a single torrent without going negative. Yes, I left it seeding constantly, but most of the time it was all seeders and no leechers.

      To be honest, I've never had speed problems for most content from non-ratio-enforcing sites. I've found ratio-enforcing sites to be a major hassle. YES my ratio is well above 1:1 for public content as I don't believe in leeching, but it's actually really difficult to maintain one's ratio on a ratio-enforcing site because you frequently run into a "lots of seeders and no leechers" scenario.

      • by Malevolyn (776946)
        The absolute best way to get your ratio up is to release your own torrents, and do it often. I've managed to rescue my ratio more than once this way, and usually in 24 hours or less.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by e2d2 (115622)

        One way I do it is to download a popular torrent and seed that, even if I don't care what it is. Leave that up over night and my ratio comes back towards 1:1.

      • by PingSpike (947548)

        I've encountered this as well. I more or less worked around it by seeding other more popular torrents from the same site to ratios of say 3 or 4 to make up for it...but I do remember at first leaving many of them in my list for weeks only to pick up maybe 10%.

      • Have no problem keeping a good ratio. My 1930 copy of Monte Cristo was uploading at almost 20k/sec just last night.

        No idea why it is so popular. But 700mb has generated 7gb of ratio.

      • by harl (84412)

        I've found it to be highly dependent on the file. You can't grab any file and expect it to work. It has to be a popular file and I find that large files help. If the file is to small the file can be completed before the client ever asks you.

        Newness has nothing to do with the file. I'm still seeding a file I downloaded over a year ago. It's 26 GB and there are always 2-6 people downloading it.

        Also remember uploads while you yet to have a complete file also count toward ratio even though I've had some bt

      • by LoudMusic (199347)

        but most of the time it was all seeders and no leechers.

        Wow, life's a bitch.

    • by bluesatin (1350681) on Friday February 13, 2009 @11:33AM (#26844161)

      I got invited to a private tracker the other day that expected everyone to keep a ratio of over 1:1.

      It's nice to know some sites are so far up their own arse that they forget quite how bit-torrent works and fail at basic maths.

  • sssssh! (Score:5, Funny)

    by jollyreaper (513215) on Friday February 13, 2009 @10:59AM (#26843545)

    Whenever Pirate Bay goes down, let's everyone agree that bittorrent is dead. Say it very loudly when around RIAA types and look morose, say it looks like we're going to have to pay top dollar for entertainment, pantomime getting out your wallets. And for xod's sake, don't mention any of the other torrent sites. *wink*

  • by javilon (99157) on Friday February 13, 2009 @11:01AM (#26843583) Homepage

    the best option is a web of trust plus p2p application. This p2p would be used only to distribute tracker locations and or edonkey links, not the actual content. This way you would need no centralized web servers. Webservers are too easy a target for the MAFIAA.

    With this an something like the kad protocol we would have truly distributed content distribution. Not only the files, but the urls for the files.

    • Or, you know, another 2-3 torrent sites will appear to fill the void within 7-10 days, and the circle of life continues.

      The problem with the oft-proposed solutions of distributed trackers or trust-based sharing is that in addition to making it more difficult for the media empires, it does the same for regular people.

      The *AA are gaining assets and funding all the time, and any attempt to make it more difficult for them to infiltrate a segment of the sharing community is far more likely to present a problem f

  • by Bieeanda (961632) on Friday February 13, 2009 @11:04AM (#26843633)
    Will seed to 1:1
  • by flagg9483 (940242) on Friday February 13, 2009 @11:10AM (#26843743)
    1. Tribler designs P2P client that pushes decentralized tracking. 2. Tribler publishes research which predicts doom and gloom for the future of centralized bittorrent trackers. 3. ??? 4. Profit!
  • by MikeRT (947531) on Friday February 13, 2009 @11:15AM (#26843837) Homepage

    If there is truth to this, then the IP trade groups will go after TPB harder and faster now.

  • It doesn't matter. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ledow (319597) on Friday February 13, 2009 @11:30AM (#26844115) Homepage

    Shut it down. It won't make any difference.

    It will force coders to create a better system.
    It will promote the use of another protocol/network that is immune to particular traits of law/jurisdiction that The Pirate Bay may fall foul of.
    In the meantime, hundreds of pretenders will show up to take the flak and the sheer volume means that all that can be done is trying to shut them down one at a time with legal threats.

    Just look at the history of ANY P2P system and it's pretty much identical.

    Give it a few more years, the Internet will be nothing but the basis of a global, anonymous, reliable, authenticatable P2P system that everybody uses to do everything. We have the technology (Tor, CloudVPN, Bittorrent, DHT, etc.), it's just a matter of fine-tuning and prevelance. As an additional bonus, it then won't matter that some people are using IPv6 and some IPv4 - everything will be in this cloud of dark smoke that you can only see what enters and leaves and nothing inbetween. You'll be able to tell that User X shared an MP3 if you are able to see all of User X's traffic. You'll be able to see that User Y downloaded an MP3 if you are able to see all of User Y's traffic. But even compromising User X completely won't reveal to you who User Y is or was. Trying to masquerade as User X without their private key would be useless, so the best you could do (even with the key) would be to propogate false content to... who? Nobody would know - everything is just an anonymous connection from a dozen random peers.

    The media companies and governments are, by a process of digital evolution, driving anonymous communications into necessities and they become more prevelant with each generation. Hardly anybody warezed back in the 90's as a percentage of Internet users - now most ordinary people know how to find and download illegal content in a few clicks. Each time the problem of "piracy" is "fixed", it crops up yet again, somewhere else, in a new form that's more convenient, faster, harder to prove and more ubiquitous.

    Even in terms of general users - the only things that people ever ask me about when the subject comes up are "something like Napster or something". They've never used Napster but the fame of being shut down was enough to make them into a household name for free/illegal content. Do it to The Pirate Bay (whose name I'm already getting mentioned in conversations from people who I thought couldn't work a mouse) and the same will happen.

    It doesn't mean that they *shouldn't* be shutting down The Pirate Bay, or that The Pirate Bay are somehow "right" or "heroes". They have taken advantage of an interesting legal technicality. It just means that you're not going to win with the sorts of tactics where you just try and shut the sites down. Maybe the opportunity for the media companies EVER winning has now passed and they'll never be able to anymore - who knows? But they are trying to catch fog in a net... this isn't a problem they can solve by shutting down a server - they need something else. I don't know what. They certainly don't. But until it exists, they are playing a losing game.

    • If you've got something truly decentralised, ie - no defined server to allow anybody to find one another, it would surely be necessary for it to evolve from a previous p2p standard. You need enough clients running right from the start to allow for any one client to be able to connect to some others just by looking around for peers in random locations. You could partly do it the darknet way, connecting only to people you know, but that would end up very fragmented.
    • by melikamp (631205)

      If what you say comes true, they will tax the internet heavily (forget that it is unfair to the highest degree, since the internet is a bundle of distilled goodness which helps everyone by making the entire mass of Human culture available to everyone, everywhere, at a nominal cost). This is when the real game will begin: hijacking internet connections and using them for free. Hey, I'll be there.

    • >> Maybe the opportunity for the media companies EVER winning has now passed and they'll never be able to anymore - who knows?

      What's online for free..
      TOS Star Trek
      Battle Star Galactica
      Heroes
      Lost
      Burn Notice
      Chuck

      Just off the top of my head. Pretty sure many others are these days.

      With a flash capture tool, you can keep them.

      I was very happy to find AOL offering high quality versions of all the old MTV Videos (including HOOK!!!) online. I played them all and now i have them all on my hard drives and som

  • by KeithIrwin (243301) on Friday February 13, 2009 @11:37AM (#26844231)

    There is no such thing as "the BitTorrent network". That's like talking about "the HTTP network". It's a distributed download protocol. It doesn't do search and different trackers and torrents are not interconnected in any way. Thus, it is not a network. The ability to use BitTorrent will not be harmed in any way by any one site going down.

    Remember when everyone used suprnova and then it went away? The world of BitTorrent will be fine.

    • by flagg9483 (940242) on Friday February 13, 2009 @12:28PM (#26845077)
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Computer_network [wikipedia.org] A computer network is a group of interconnected computers. Networks may be classified according to a wide variety of characteristics. This article provides a general overview of some types and categories and also presents the basic components of a network. ... Functional relationship (network architecture) Computer networks may be classified according to the functional relationships which exist among the elements of the network, e.g., Active Networking, Client-server and Peer-to-peer (workgroup) architecture. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peer-to-peer [wikipedia.org]
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      HTTP is a protocal, not a network. But computers can form a network using http, its called the Internet. Bittorrent IS a network because it is computers networked together sharing information via the bittorrent protocol.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Idiomatick (976696)
      supernova wasn't a tracker, TPB is the biggest tracker. Slight difference there. If TPB goes down, alot of the trackers will have to fill in the gap and its a pretty big burden, some trackers could get crushed. I think what will happen is a index like isohunt will take control completely. Then all trackers will be small but there will be thousands of them. In this way the riaa can play whack-a-mole with the trackers as much as they want to no avail. And the index are innocent or atleast fairly easily replac
  • i would hate to see legal torrents disabled because of a few copywrite infringers, please think of the children ^^err The Linux ISOs...
  • Traffic will only flow to other trackers automatically if torrent files have multiple trackers listed, which isn't all too common. A vast proportion of TPB users are random college kid types with little tech knowledge, and would not know how to find alternative trackers.

    Additionally, there are dozens of small private/invite trackers which would not be affected as they have limited membership. Generally, these researchers have their heads up their asses.

    Demonoid ftw.

  • by mmell (832646) <mike.mell@gmail.com> on Friday February 13, 2009 @12:23PM (#26845005)
    Which (when pinched by the US judicial system) imploded - but leaving behind the Gnutella filesharing protocol (BearShare, LimeWire, FrostWire, etc).

    Never mind that the Napster name survived and came back as another DRM'ed monstrosity. We still have the Gnutella protocol, free and unencumbered (poisoned, but we tech types can deal with that, eh?).

    If TPB goes under (like SuperNova - can you say "mininova"?), there'll be plenty of other site operators ready to take advantage of their country's laws to make money from the opportunity this would represent. Trust me - even if TPB is forced to shut down (a questionable liklihood), there'll be plenty of others coming behind to pick up the profitable pieces left behind.

    Data occupies space, has mass, exerts gravity. Even physically turning off TPB's servers won't make that data go away. Even if you nuke the servers holding the data and wipe all the hard drives, the data still exists (scattered about on the internet in some form or another). It'll be found (rediscovered) and used.

    This is just another example of the existing media cartels (MPAA, RIAA, et. al.) trying to stuff the genie back in the bottle. They obviously haven't learned from their past experience with Gnutella just how difficult rebottling the jinn can be.

  • High Time (Score:2, Redundant)

    by b4upoo (166390)

    It's the right time to develop torrent protocols that are multi source and multinational in such a way that individual governments can do nothing to disrupt them. We also need to protect those less able at computing by using untraceable ISPs and encrypted methods of delivery such that no accusation of infringement can be made.
    So it's a call to white hats, black hats, gray hats and people who just love freedom to get busy, write the code and get it into the hands of

  • 8 servers (Score:5, Funny)

    by swilver (617741) on Friday February 13, 2009 @01:11PM (#26845777)
    Where will the bittorrent community ever find EIGHT servers... this is insurmountable.
  • by Troberg (1426687) on Friday February 13, 2009 @01:54PM (#26846403)
    The ones who wants to shut it down do not have the power to do so. The only ones with that power is the people who runs it, and they are not going to shut it down, especially not as they've been continiously harassed by the ones who want it shut down.

    They have redundant servers spread all over the world, some of them in server halls at ISPs that will not allow the police to just enter and shut them down. They also have several servers that are not active now, but which could be activated if need be.

    Add to this that the last time they tried to shut them down, they recieved donations of new servers, money, server hall space and fast internet connections from both ordinary people and companies, emerging stronger than before and was running within three days. Now, they are prepared, and the same pattern will happen again. If attempts are made to shut them down, they will get more support and emerge stronger.

    I can even tell you how the trial will go:

    * They will be found guilty in the first trial, as the judge and "nÃmndemÃn" (not a jury, but an advisory group of "trustworthy people") are politically appointed, and will get orders from their parties to convict.
    * They will appeal. The next court is not politically appointed, so it will instead look at the law. Swedish law allows linking to possibly illegal content, and there are precendents showing that such an interpretation holds up in court. In other words, they will be found not guilty. This is also in line with tradition, as everyone accused of file sharing who have appealed to this court has been found not guilty.
    * The public attourney may appeal, and once again get his butt spanked. It's not entirely sure that he will do this, though, as this court has the power to set precedents. Another file sharer have been paid large sums of money by the media industry to not appeal, as they do not want to lose here.
    * The case will go to the European court, which, at least on paper, should test if the Swedish courts have followed Swedish law. If it does it's job, they will once again be found not guilty.

    Also, don't forget that these guys are activists, they will not back away from a fight. I wouldn't be surprised if they were to appeal even if they won in the first trial, just to make sure that they won in a court high enough to set a precedent.

    Worth noting is that there are strong evidence of taking bribes against Jim Keyzer, the corrupt police who headed the investigation. Roswall, the public attourney, similarly is also suspected of various kinds of corruption and breaches of protocol. BodstrÃm, the minister of justice who initiated this spectacle broke three out of our four constitutions in order to make this happen, and this will also taint the case.
  • Of course absolutely nothing will appear out of the series of tubes, now will it?

The Force is what holds everything together. It has its dark side, and it has its light side. It's sort of like cosmic duct tape.

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