Peerblock is popular among torrent users as this firewall application can prevent certain IP addresses from connecting to your computer. Peerblock relies on IP blacklists and it is set to be a practical option for protecting yourself from torrent monitoring agencies while torrenting. It denies access to your computer, keeping monitoring companies at bay and ensuring that they can’t find out that you are part of a torrent swarm. Although it sounds like a good and simple idea, the truth is that IP blacklisting is not the most effective solution. Companies that are focused on monitoring torrents can easily bypass IP blacklists.
The difference between blacklisting and whitelisting
Although it is easy to think that blacklisting and whitelisting are the same thing, or at least very similar, in reality they are very different. When you whitelist certain IP addresses, only them can connect to your computer. If you blacklist certain IP address, they would be the only ones that won’t be able to connect, while all other IP address will get access. In general, blacklisting is less effective due to the changing nature of IP addresses.
All the devices connected to the internet have an IP address, but this can’t identify a single person or computer with complete precision because IP addresses are constantly reassigned by those who own them. As such, it is unlikely that a single IP can be used to identify a company that you want to block. Additionally, when it comes to torrent monitoring, the companies that are focused on this task, are prepared to deal with such blocks. They have the necessary tools to avoid detection and bypass blacklisting.
How reliable are IP lists?
PeerBlock’s blacklisting system uses lists from IBlocklist.com. There are many IP lists organized in different categories including countries and monitoring agencies. Unfortunately, the lists provide inconsistent data and in many cases, the IP addresses listed are not used by the agencies they are meant to belong to, or the country listed is wrong and the IP addresses are for a different country. The fact is that due to the changing nature of IP addresses, not all the addresses that appear in such lists are correct and of course, many addresses that should be included, are missing. It is not possible to fully trust the information in these lists because it is unlikely that an IP address can truly be used to identify an agency that should be blocked.
Your IP address could be exposed
As mentioned before, many of the IPs that appear in blacklists don’t belong there and there are IPs that should be listed, but are not. Due to this, PeerBlock won’t effectively block all the IP addresses that could put your privacy at risk. Since not all the IP addresses belonging to monitoring agencies will be blocked, they will be able to join the torrent swarms you are in, which will allow them to see your IP address. It is very easy to see the IP addresses of torrent peers in pretty much any client.
Those who are participating in a torrent swarm will be able to see the IP address of other users. With that information, it is possible to run a quick online search to determine the ISP that owns that IP address and that can eventually lead to a specific user.
In addition, every IP address that is blocked has an impact on the speed of your torrenting. There is a high number of IP addresses listed in IBlocklist, which means that when you use PeerBlock your torrent speed can slow down significantly. Plus, in order to keep IBlocklist lists updated, a subscription may be required. However, this can be avoided as you can uninstall and reinstall PeerBlock in order to update the lists without paying.
VPNs are the best option
If you want to keep your identity protected and secure your online traffic, a VPN service is the right choice. A VPN hides your real IP address and it also encrypts your traffic. You won’t need to rely on PeerBlock or any similar application to stop other IPs from connecting to your computer, because your real IP address will be hidden anyway. Even if a monitoring gets to see your IP address, it won’t be the real one, but the one assigned by the VPN provider. Furthermore, some VPN services include a feature known as kill switch, which blocks all internet traffic if the VPN disconnects. If the VPN connection suddenly drops, the kill switch shuts down all internet traffic (or specific applications such as your torrent client), preventing your real IP address from being exposed.
Keep in mind that although most VPNs offer the same core features, there are some options that are better than others. If you want to use a VPN for torrenting, it is important to look for a service that is fast, that uses shared IP addresses and that has a kill switch. Of course, speed is a crucial factor since it will allow you to enjoy a seamless torrenting experience. Shared IPs mean that many people are using the same IP simultaneously, which makes things very difficult when it comes to tracing the IP address back to a specific user. A kill switch will protect your identity, even if the VPN connection fails at some stage.
Make sure that your VPN is working
After setting up your VPN, it is worth checking that it is actually working as it should. You can use IP checking tools and websites such as whatismyipaddress.com and ipchicken.com. Before connecting to the VPN, visit any of these websites to see what IP address is seen by others. When you connect to the VPN, your IP address should be changed. You can see how your IP address appears in BitTorrent client using a BitTorrent tracker site like IPMagnet. It gives you a magnet link that you can add to your BitTorrent client. Once the magnet link is added, the website will show you the IP address that other users see in the torrent swarm.