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Stealing bandwidth from BitTorrent seeders

Adamsky, F., Khayam, S. A., Jaeger, R. & Rajarajan, M. (2014). Stealing bandwidth from BitTorrent seeders. Computers & Security, 46, pp. 126-140. doi: 10.1016/j.cose.2014.07.009


BitTorrent continues to comprise the largest fraction of Internet traffic. While significant progress has been made in understanding the BitTorrent choking mechanism, its security vulnerabilities have not been investigated thoroughly. This paper presents an experimental analysis of bandwidth attacks against different choking algorithms in the BitTorrent seed state. We reveal a simple exploit that allows malicious peers to receive a considerably higher download rate than contributing leechers, therefore introducing significant efficiency degradations for benign peers. We show the damage caused by the proposed attack in two different environments: a lab testbed comprising 32 peers and a PlanetLab testbed with 300 peers. Our results show that 3 malicious peers can degrade the download rate up to 414.99% for all peers. Combined with a Sybil attack that consists of as many attackers as leechers, it is possible to degrade the download rate by more than 1000%. We propose a novel choking algorithm which is immune against bandwidth attacks and a countermeasure against the revealed attack.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: © 2014, Elsevier. Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International
Publisher Keywords: Peer-to-peer; BitTorrent; Attacks; Countermeasures; Seeding algorithms
Subjects: Q Science > QA Mathematics > QA75 Electronic computers. Computer science
Departments: School of Science & Technology > Engineering
School of Science & Technology > Engineering > Electrical & Electronic Engineering
Text - Accepted Version
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