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BitTorrent Bullies: BitTyrant and BitThief

Bittyrant
Impatience doesn’t get you anywhere. It causes stress and frustration and it usually gives everyone around you the impression that you’re a total jerk. And as these two new P2P clients demonstrate, impatience also has the potential to ruin BitTorrent.

Yesterday, TorrentFreak alerted us to a new BitTorrent client with a "selfish" anti-social streak. BitTyrant, a project of the University of Washington’s computer science department, is based on the code for Azureus 2.5. So, it’s a cross-platform Java application — that’s good. What makes BitTyrant bad is that prioritizes your upload connections, favoring the peers that provide the best download speeds. You end up sharing more of the torrent with only the peers that give you the biggest chunks. The slower peers that aren’t giving you as much data are choked and relegated to the bottom of the list.

This velvet rope approach improves the client’s download performance, and it probably doesn’t do a lot to harm the distribution of a fileset within a massive swarm. But BitTyrant still rotten bananas, especially if people start to use it in large numbers.

Now there’s BitThief, which is straight-up nefarious and wrong — the client downloads torrents without uploading. TorrentFreak tells us how it works:

[BitThief] constantly pretends to be a newly arrived peer that doesn’t have anything to offer itself. Additionally, the client re-announces itself many times during the start of the download, and it ignores the 30 minute announce interval.

According to TorrentFreak’s Ernesto, who tells me he has tested the client first-hand, BitThief (a Swiss project, go figure) does what it promises by clocking higher download speeds on large swarms. On regular swarms, it performs about the same as any other client. But it also opens 500 simultaneous connections (compared to the Mainline client’s default 80) so it hoses your router almost instantly.

These clients go against the fundamental purpose of BitTorrent: efficiently distributing files to a large number of peers at once.

But BitThief is total jerkware. Downloading without uploading? Seriously, what’s the point? So you have to wait 20 minutes to download a file instead of 15 — big deal. What’s the rush? Is the world going to end if you don’t get that Lost episode before everyone else?

I’m with Ernesto — I hope these clients get banned on every tracker in the universe.