Technically, the latest encryption and obfuscation enhancements of BitTorrent, the currently most popular peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing network, deserve respect. They come in the form of extensions to certain BitTorrent clients such as Vuze and BitComet, and they make life for deep packet inspection (DPI) vendors like us more difficult. Detection signatures have become more complex thus requiring more processing power.
OK, you might think, this is in the name of our online privacy. Wrong! Let’s take a closer look. Files being shared in P2P networks, so also those in BitTorrent, are publicly available for everyone to download, no matter if encryption is used or not. It is even possible to detect who offered the file for download — again, encryption does not matter here. So it must be something else. And this is, of course, the attempt to evade application-specific traffic handling.
From a commercial perspective, I have to be thankful for this development. Those customers running their bandwidth management devices close to the specification limit will need a hardware upgrade. And even better, this brings a competitive advantage to ipoque because, as far as I am aware of, we are the first DPI vendor capable to reliably detect these latest BitTorrent encryptions.
But let’s take a look at the bigger picture. While we are certain to be able to keep up with the encryption and obfuscation arms race, there is a potentially disastrous impact on the Internet in the long run. Let us assume these developers reach their goal and build the perfectly undetectable application. What would the consequence be? That regulatory authorities will give up and say: ”You cool guys won! Let’s go home!”? Certainly not. Already today there are governments contemplating to allow only well known and detectable traffic. If such regulation were to be enacted on a large scale, this would be the end of the Internet as we know it today. Imagine a commission having to decide whether a new application protocol will be admitted for legal use. Sure, no problem for IBM, Microsoft and co., but a complete nightmare for small companies and start-ups with innovative solutions and the end of many open source projects!
I guess it is the nature of the Internet to be indomitable. I mean the genius of the Internet is to be a borderless and ever-changing platform for the exchange of information on a planetary scale in both form and function. What makes the Internet so essential to the future of mankind is the ability of its denizens to shape its future without the need for massive scale investments. I mean the bittorent you are talking about is the brainchild of a socially challenged genius afflicted with the Asperger Syndrome.
Yes, it is true that the Internet does have its dark-side which, if left unchecked, will devour its children like the titan Cronus of Greek mythology. In a sense even Ipoque is the child of the Internet-age. To continue with the Greek analogy I guess this makes Ipoque a Zeus like figure who would defeat Cronus and banish him and all the other Titans (evil p2p applications) to Tartarus. All Ipoque needs is to find the Internet-age equivalent of Hekatonkheires and Cyclops to help it in this epic struggle against the dark forces of the Internet.
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