PeerBlock: avoid detection when downloading from torrent or p2p networks

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PeerBlock is an open source IP filtering application partially based on the PeerGuardian code. It is designed to prevent your computer from making undesirable connections, such as to machines flagged for anti p2p activities, corporations, governments, etc.

This can significantly decrease your chances of being detected when downloading from p2p or Torrent networks, or of contracting malware/spyware from known sources. PeerBlock is available in portable form and works with all versions of Windows (including XP, Vista, Seven).

If you’ve ever read or heard about ordinary people being sued for downloading files from torrent or other p2p networks, and worried about your own downloading activities, this program is for you.

Typically, agencies that are out to detect people’s downloading activity will actually take part in providing the file for download, then attempt to find out as much information about the computers that connect to them as possible.

How it works:

What PeerBlock does is it taps into publicly available lists that classify IP addresses in order to simply avoid “bad” IP addresses. It utilizes the collective wisdom of communities and sites that classify IP addresses (go here for more on where these lists come from). It works much in the same way as a virus killer program in that it is constantly updating the lists of known “bad” IP addresses, even as more of these come into existence.

What kind of protection to expect:

In keeping with the virus killer analogy above, PeerBlock will not necessarily protect you from the latest unknown threat or bad IP, but it will greatly decrease your chances of being detected. Moreover (and this is where the viruskiller analogy ends), PeerBlock will make you harder to detect compared to others on the network; the PeerBlock documentation cites the so-called “bear principle: “when running away from an angry bear you don’t need to be faster than that bear … you only need to be faster than the guy next to you”. The Peerblock site also states that “the only way to be safe with P2P downloading is to not share copyrighted content!”.

Ease of Use:

What I really like about PeerBlock is that it is very easy to use; all you need to do is run it and specify what kinds of “lists” you would like to be protected from (P2P, Spyware, Advertising, or Education/Universities) and that’s it. It now runs in the background, preventing your computer from connecting to known bad sources, not just for torrent or p2p networks but for (optionally) for general web usage as well. It will also periodically auto-update the lists that it needs to do its job.

Program options:

You can enable or disable PeerBlock at will. You can also set up your own lists if you are so inclined as well as use PeerBlock to block custom IP ranges that you set up (such as the IP range of entire countries). You can allow or disallow IP filtering for HTTP access as well (i.e. regular browsing).

PeerBlock vs. PeerGuardian:

PeerBlock is based on the code from PeerGuardian (v. PG2 RC1 Test3). I would recommend using PeerBlock because it (a) is under development; (b) does not suffer from the kind of bugs that PeerGuardian had, (c) most importantly, runs on XP, Vista, and Windows 7 without hitch. You cannot run both simultaneously.

The verdict:

Freewaregenius 5-Star Pick

Convenient, easy to use, and might just save your bacon. Download it and be safe.

Version Tested: 1.0 r181

Compatibility: Windows XP, Vista, Windows 7.

Go to the program home page to download the latest version (approx 800K).