Scott Wolchok – Crawling BitTorrent DHTs for Fun

This talk describes how crawling BitTorrent’s DHTs used for distributed tracking can be used for two opposing goals. First, pirates can crawl the DHTs to build BitTorrent search engines in just a few hours without relying on the survival of any existing search engines or trackers. Second, content owners can crawl the DHTs to monitor users’ behavior at large scale.

The talk will start by explaining what BitTorrent DHTs are and how they work. Then, it will describe the design of our attacks, how we validated them, and how many torrents and IPs we monitored (over 1 million each). Finally, we’ll look at the impact that shifting from centralized BitTorrent tracking to DHTs, as The Pirate Bay has started to do, will have on the BitTorrent arms race.

Scott Wolchok is a graduate student studying computer security at the University of Michigan under Prof. J. Alex Halderman. He tends to do whatever involves problem solving and software and needs doing. His past work includes exploiting China’s Green Dam censorware (nominated for the 2009 Pwnie Award for Mass Ownage), defeating the Vanish data privacy system by crawling BitTorrent DHTs, and developing firmware for demonstration attacks on India’s electronic voting machines.

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