I undertand the basics of torrents and file sharing over distributed networks.

A torrent file contains two important pieces of information; the torrent tracker address and the hash key. The address of the torrent tracker contains all the IP addresses that have pieces of the desired file. The torrent client downloads data segments of the desired file from different IP addresses referred to by the tracker.

What I am having trouble wrapping my head around is the tracker itself.

Essentially the tracker is a set bit length file that stores information on where various pieces are and basically coordinates /orchestrates the completion of the file by conducting each of the pieces into a harmonious file. Right?

So ...

When would someone be able to access the IP information in the tracker? Would they have to be active in the swarm to be able to see it or, are there tools out there that can query the IPs associated with a hash, simply by executing an instruction similar to tracert (but, on the hash, not the network)? Is IP information only available when the torrent is actively seeding or receiving?

I am trying to work out at what stage of the torrent process, individual users (IPs) are at risk from discovery, if they are not using proxies or some other method of "hiding their identity."

Any information is appreciated.

[I have reviewed: How does Bittorrent work? ]

  • I'm really interested in the outcome of this one! – Jesse Smith Dec 28 '11 at 20:50

The only way to get a list of IP adresses to other peers from the tracker is by registering yourself as peer to the tracker.

So it is possible to get the info by pretending to be a peer to the tracker and then refuse to participate in the swarm. (Other peers will try to connect to you.)

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