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Summary:

Swedish courts may have slapped an injunction on The Pirate Bay, but not only has the site stayed up and running but the team behind it is hard at work on the IPREDator virtual private network (VPN) service — and we managed to land an invite […]

ipredator_logoSwedish courts may have slapped an injunction on The Pirate Bay, but not only has the site stayed up and running but the team behind it is hard at work on the IPREDator virtual private network (VPN) service — and we managed to land an invite to the beta version. As a fan of proxies, VPNs and any other way to get around pesky access restrictions, I gave it a spin. The short answer? It’s easy to set up and use, though if you don’t live in Europe, it’s probably not worth the money for the level of performance.

But IPREDator also suggests two notable things about the future of file-sharing: One, that “darknets” of network traffic hidden behind proxies and encryption may well make unofficial distribution even easier and less risky for users; and two, that sites like The Pirate Bay, which stand accused of profiting from copyright infringement, might be able to subsidize their non-commercial distribution efforts by offering the tools to share files securely rather than selling ads alongside indexes of torrent files.

To sign up for IPREDator, which is named in honor of the European Union’s Intellectual Property Rights Enforcement Directive, you simply sign up with a username and password on the site, pay 15 euros ($21.41) for three months of service, and follow the instructions to log into the VPN. It took all of five minutes on my MacBook, with no software to download.

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One thing to note is that for the privacy of users, the site doesn’t store login and password information, so don’t forget your password because it won’t let you retrieve or reset it. Also, you’ll want to make sure you have a software firewall set up on your machine, especially if you configure a router pass-through — just as a VPN lets you tunnel through ISP filters to get to the sweet stuff, any malefactor can tunnel back through your router to get to your machine.

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What the VPN does is securely encode all the information sent and received from your computer with state-of-the-industry, 128-bit encryption, and hide all traffic behind a single IP address. So any site you visit couldn’t identify you, specifically, among the thousands of users represented by that address. Granted, the IP address is in Sweden, so you’ll be out of luck if you’re trying to use the service to access geographically restricted sites like Hulu.

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And of course, that also means all the data has to travel to Sweden, then to wherever you were trying to access, then back to Sweden before finally returning to you. Latency, in other words, is a problem. Testing the system on a well-seeded torrent also showed a marked decline in download speed and performance. So as pointed out above, unless you live in Europe, you’ll probably want to look into another VPN service closer to home.

And there are plenty. In a piece for PC World last month, I took a look at a number of different software applications that are being designed to limit access to shared files to a known group, as well as encrypt data transfers and obfuscate IP addresses, many of which are free or, like IPREDator, low cost.

So rather than stemming the flow of unlicensed distribution, the crackdown on intellectual property is driving file sharers closer to the edge of secure and anonymous Internet access, with paid services possibly helping to fund torrent index servers and legal defense funds, and developers working on user-friendly tools to make darknets accessible even to the lowliest noob. So even if IPREDator seems too complicated, expensive or distant to be practical, don’t worry, something will come along soon enough to meet your desperate need to watch the latest pirated movie or international TV show. Content providers should still consider letting it be their technology, and not The Pirate Bay’s.

  1. Somewhat surprising to hear that 128 bit PPTP is “state of the art” when, in fact, it’s been easily breakable at that crypto keylength for years. Oh, and it leaks DNS information. And it’s proprietary, a closed-source “security” tool developed by Microsoft and Cisco in the 1990s and left for dead.

    “State of the art?”

    “Ipredator” is the old, broken Relakks VPN service – the one that shut down last fall for several months without explanation – with TPB’s amazing brand stuck on top. Some of the payment pages (for those who actually pay, and aren’t given free accounts to hype the service) still have the Relakks logo left on them. “Hard at work” developing a new VPN service? Yes, pasting their logo onto Relakks must have been very “hard” to do – months of work, right there.

    Given the bait and switch that TPB has done here – pretending their “new” VPN service isn’t just Relakks with a different logo – we went ahead and helped them with their branding. The more accurate name for this “new” service is:

    http://www.irelakksator.com

    In the meantime, there’s plenty of real VPN companies using real, proven, open VPN toolsets to provide real service. Even Peter Sunde has admitted that Irelakksator.com is insecure and intended merely as a “political statement” not a security service (quoted in an Australian interview, last week). Funny how that turns into “state of the art” a week later.

    Check your facts. Re-treading an old, first-generation service as “new” is dishonest and disrespectful. Repeating that kind of hype without checking the facts first is just plain lazy.

    Fausty

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  2. @fausty why not check your facts yourself?
    1. most (affordable) vpn services use (128 bit) pptp since it’s easiest to set up on all systems and even if it is theoretically breakable, the point is making it hard enough so no one will bother, if someone wiretaps your home (and thus cares enough about something) your vpn won’t matter anyway.
    2. last time I checked (some moments ago) relakks was still operational. Yes I know that they share some similarities with relakks, but what exactly is the problem with that? Fact is, compared to other pptp vpn providers they’re good value, and if those other providers offer other/better vpn connection methods (open vpn) they cost even more. (also, ipredator/relakks has no one time fee as so many others do)
    3. I tested it from within europe once, worked good for most things, but ofc, as with any vpn provider, don’t expect to get your full connection speed, esp. if you have a really fast connection (50 – 100 mbit it will never fill)

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  3. I just wanted to say that Fausty is right.

    Someone doesn’t have to target you specifically to crack your pptp connection since clearly it leaks DNS info and therefore is very easy to figure out who is behind a pptp. Why even bother using pptp unless all you want to do is browse the web and hide your identity but when doing things like using bit-torrent, pptp is absolutely ridiculous and it’s a bold face lie if someone tells you it’s “new” or “secure” or whatever.

    Sure, it may be easy to set up but then there is an amazing correlation between doing things the right way and doing things the hard way.

    I’m sorry Flo, but you’re just flat-out wrong.

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  4. Fausty appears to be a professional troll, who peddles lots of untruths in his forum/blog and posts on every Ipredator thread he can find.

    Regarding the issue of DNS and PPTP …

    a) It really doesn’t matter if DNS info “leaks”. Set DNS addresses to something other than those of your ISP, and noone that matters will be routinely logging it.

    b) PPTP might be a bad idea if you’re super-paranoid about hiding which sites you are visiting (ie. its probably unsuitable for the very websurfing that Fausty suggests), but DNS queries are about resolving domains, therefore info on specific pages within those domains cannot “leak”. For P2P uses, which don’t really require DNS requests at all (well, some tracker addresses … but Bittorrent / P2P itself is entirely legal so who cares?), DNS leakage is basically an irrelevance.

    “Someone doesn’t have to target you specifically to crack your pptp connection since clearly it leaks DNS info and therefore is very easy to figure out who is behind a pptp.”
    Huh? Tripe. That its crackable is not related at all to the fact it can leak DNS data. Simply picking up a few leaked DNS requests will not reveal that you are running a PPTP connection, unless you are the ISP who can see a common IP source. But then, the ISP isnt going to need to see a few DNS requests to know that you’re running PPTP.

    And as for crackability, flo has it spot-on: “the point is making it hard enough so no one will bother”. And you don’t have to fear your ISP, as snooping on the content of private communications is illegal in most jurisdictions without a court order (that any ISP – you can be sure – would fight).

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  5. Fausty is correct, I’m an ex-Relakks user (my ISP throttles all forms of P2P traffic) and looking at the IPREDATOR page after getting my beta invite.. it’s pretty broken and is just a direct copy-n-paste job of the old Relakks page. I didn’t bother signing up for it.

    Serious VPN hosters (especially those who host specifically for torrent downloaders) do NOT use the PPTP protocol. It requires the routers in between you and their server to support GRE which even a home router can detect and block. OpenVPN running on UDP/TCP is basically the standard for VPN providers at the moment, it’s normally coupled with an internal SOCKS server on the private network so users may choose which applications they wish to proxy via the VPN unlike PPTP which basically routes everything through.

    PPTP is definitely outdated and isn’t as user friendly or secure as OpenVPN and other new VPN protocols. I would not recommend IPREDATOR to anyone unless they just want to use it for a basic level of anonymity/security when accessing public wifi hotspots or something. If you don’t need UDP protocol support, I would even recommend SSH tunneling over using PPTP :)

    Do your own research, try the service out yourself and listen to people like Fausty and Flo who actually seem to know what they’re talking about next time.

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  6. My problem with Fausty is that he makes some really “scary” claims to put off those who don’t know any better or can’t think for themselves. His language above on PPTP is one indicator (“Microsoft”/”closed-source”/”1990s” (all irrelevant) “left for dead” (untrue)). His skewed interpretation of Sunde’s comments is another. Go to Fausty’s blog, and you will find more “scary” statements about logs and information supposedly collected by the IPredator service (that actually aren’t collected at all). Given his fanaticism over all things TPB/IPredator/TF, and his campaign of disinformation, I half wonder who pays his wage.

    The reality is that “Serious VPN hosters” will usually offer the PPTP protocol, though as one option amongst several. It was only some six months ago, for instance, that the popular swissvpn service started offering as its only alternative to PPTP an OpenVPN beta service. PPTP is dated, but hardly obsolete: it just so happens that there are better options that are becoming more widely available.

    But does the “betterness” matter for a P2P user? I was arguing not at all. DNS leaks are an irrelevance for P2P. Man-in-middle isn’t much of a concern for P2P either as the user wants an anonymous public IP address coupled with sufficient encryption to bypass ISP filtering (you suggest reserving PPTP for “accessing public wifi hotspots or something”, but that’s precisely when the security issues in PPTP do matter. Or if you’re a political activist in China. Or if you like to download illegal porn).

    “Do your own research, try the service out yourself and listen to people like Fausty and Flo who actually seem to know what they’re talking about next time.”
    I’ve done my research. Unlike you, I have tested the service (out of curiosity, rather than need – the speed was very decent as of 2 weeks ago). I also work in IT (university sector and admittedly a different field, but I’m not a novice or regular home-user). “Next time” is somewhat condescending, don’t you think? :)

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  7. Ah! And now I see why Fausty is so against IPredator. Just read this : “Under the alias ‘Fausty’, Spink also operates VPN service TorrentFreedom, which runs on the open source VPN tool OpenVPN … TorrentFreedom’s service comes at a pricier US$17 per month.”. Conflict of interest much? :p

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  8. Try SURFSOLO from securstar… ssh2 aes 256bit encrypted tunnel….. excellent in my opinion… no user logs kept

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  9. There are few other alternatives though, i.e. https://www.anonine.com/ works really good.

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  10. I use Perfect Privacy since a while. People who think it’s to expensive for their needs should maybe stick with Ivacy.

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