Torrenting is a popular file sharing protocol based on peer-to-peer (P2P) technology. An Internet user may download .torrent files which are media content files containing anything from audios, videos, games, applications, movies and images.
There are millions of .torrent files available on the Internet. Users would firstly download these on community websites and then use an application program to download the .torrent file.
There is a grey area when it comes to downloading torrents. Torrenting in itself is not an illegal act, however there are certain aspects when downloading torrents which can end up illegal. For example, downloading copyrighted material is an offence, as well as the sites you are accessing contenting with could be illegal.
Now in some cases, because of the inability to distinguish between what is a legal or illegal torrent file, users may unwittingly end up downloading torrents which turn out to be illegal.
The consequences can be serious sometimes. The legal crew of entertainment industries are aware of torrenting and team up with communities to catch file sharers to serve them copyright infringement notices or Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) takedown notices.
Because of their constant activity monitoring of these peer-to-peer networks, your IP address is a dead giveaway for all your torrenting activities. To avoid landing yourself in hot soup, this is why you would want to carry out your torrenting anonymously.
As many Internet users themselves are not aware that they are unknowingly involving themselves in intellectual property theft, or revealing their IP address identities to be tracked, this is what prompts millions of users to use anonymisation services to protect themselves from such hiccups.
As you may know, Virtual Private Networks (VPN) are a growing crowd-favourite, not only for the tech geeks, privacy-conscious folk or corporate entities anymore, but also any common Internet user like you and me who would prefer a sense of security in anonymity on the Internet.
Using a VPN while torrenting will protect you in various ways. Firstly, certain regions you may be living in are stricter in their data collection laws and copyrights infringement laws. Internet users in countries such as Australia, USA, UK, Canada, Sweden, Norway, and New Zealand might face punishable offence. This is where the importance to receive the cover of encryption comes into play too, when it comes to your data being monitored. The main thing is to be sure your VPN has a zero logs policy, whereby if any government or legal entity ever forced your VPN provider to give their customers’ information, your VPN provider would not be able to because they do not hold any customers’ data.
Additionally, government, corporations and your Internet Service Provider (ISP) can find out who you are from your leaked IP address which is unique to your device. When connected to a VPN, your encrypted traffic will be routed through your VPN’s server IP address, masking your own individual IP address. Any entity monitoring internet traffic cannot figure out your IP address and they end up with a virtual IP used by the VPN service provider.
Other points to note is to check that the VPN provider you select must support P2P applications (not all do), and that your VPN is equipped with DNS leak protection. This feature will monitor your DNS requests to ensure they are still going through your VPN instead of directly to your ISP. Devoid of this protection feature, a DNS leak would eventually be leaking your IP address to your ISP while torrenting without you being aware of it.