1st International ICST Workshop on Applications of Private and Anonymous Communications

Research Article

BitBlender: Light-Weight Anonymity for BitTorrent

  • @INPROCEEDINGS{10.1145/1461464.1461465,
        author={Kevin Bauer and Damon McCoy and Dirk Grunwald and Douglas Sicker},
        title={BitBlender: Light-Weight Anonymity for BitTorrent},
        proceedings={1st International ICST Workshop on Applications of Private and Anonymous Communications},
        keywords={Anonymity BitTorrent Peer-to-peer networks},
  • Kevin Bauer
    Damon McCoy
    Dirk Grunwald
    Douglas Sicker
    Year: 2008
    BitBlender: Light-Weight Anonymity for BitTorrent
    DOI: 10.1145/1461464.1461465
Kevin Bauer1,*, Damon McCoy1,*, Dirk Grunwald1,*, Douglas Sicker1,*
  • 1: Department of Computer Science University of Colorado Boulder, CO 80309-0430 USA
*Contact email: kevin.bauer@colorado.edu, mccoyd@colorado.edu, grunwald@colorado.edu, sicker@colorado.edu


We present BitBlender, an efficient protocol that provides an anonymity layer for BitTorrent traffic. BitBlender works by creating an ad-hoc multi-hop network consisting of special peers called "relay peers" that proxy requests and replies on behalf of other peers. To understand the effect of introducing relay peers into the BitTorrent system architecture, we provide an analysis of the expected path lengths as the ratio of relay peers to normal peers varies. A prototype is implemented and experiments are conducted on Planetlab to quantify the performance overhead associated with the protocol. We also propose protocol extensions to add confidentiality and access control mechanisms, countermeasures against traffic analysis attacks, and selective caching policies that simultaneously increase both anonymity and performance. We finally discuss the potential legal obstacles to deploying an anonymous file sharing protocol. This work is among the first to propose a privacy enhancing system that is designed specifically for a particular class of peer-to-peer traffic.