Sadly, given the advances in digital forensics and tracking technology, nobody can lay claim to the title of best VPN for Torrenting in 2023.
And the problem isn’t that the competition is ‘neck and neck’. The problem is that these new tracking methods simply decimate any concept of privacy that a modern VPN can provide.
We’re not prepared to suggest that you Torrent without proper security and privacy protection. But we need to figure out what that protection is.
So let’s explore the weaknesses of VPNs for torrenting privately and securely, and then delve into alternatives that meet this modern challenge
IP Leaking and Browser Fingerprinting
It’s time to talk about the problem with some VPNs, and their tendency to leak IP addresses while doing nothing against one of the fastest-rising privacy threats: Browser fingerprinting.
On the first topic, IP leaking is a serious concern for some of the less advanced VPNs. IP leaking takes place when the service somehow shares your actual IP address with the world, not just the address of the VPN’s exit node.
There are three main ways this can happen. Let’s cover them.
A common IP leak is via WebRTC. WebRTC is an old HTML5 standard (it’s been over a decade since the plans came out, four years since 1.0 came out) that lets services dig around for the best routing information when they’re streaming stuff like video, voice, and peer-to-peer. Once a leak happens, anything else you do on that connection will be traceable to the leaked IP address.
Not all VPN providers support Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6) fully. There are a number of VPNs that only support old, legacy IPv4. When they see any IPv6 traffic, they pass it through without touching it. This can leak your IPv4 address as well.
Thirdly, there are link disruption leaks. That happens when the VPN goes down briefly for any reason (intentionally or not), but it doesn’t stop you from transmitting data to the Internet. All of a sudden, you’re spewing out unencrypted data directly to the destination, with no protection in between.
Here are some typical IP leaking scenarios and test results from the same study. So many of the top 10 ISPs are failing under multiple categories. It’s frightening.
But even if you have a VPN that isn’t leaking your IP address, you can be identified and tracked.
How? VPNs do not hamper browser or device fingerprinting. Browser fingerprinting, a way of narrowing down your identity by comparing your browser and system’s drivers and statistics to a database of known systems, is becoming the most common way for private and public organizations to track users online.
It works for more than traditional web browsers too. Anything that uses a browser, like all of those popular web apps, are vulnerable to browser fingerprinting.
Device fingerprinting uses different indicators and protocols but has a similar effect. Any kind of ISP authentication, wireless hotspot, Bluetooth connection, guest networking, or bandwidth sharing can be vulnerable.
This is all completely disregarding certain fly-by-night VPNs, and a lot of ‘free’ VPNs, running scams left and right. The entire industry’s reputation has become tarnished.
A Consumer Reports study on Windows VPN services, covering a mix of paid and free services, found that 75% of the VPNs tested didn’t follow their advertising. They listed false benefits and didn’t use the security or privacy methods that they claimed to.That’s not even counting ridiculous events like the Kasper VPN scam or the Kaspersky corporation working with the Russian government. Picking the wrong VPN is downright dangerous.
So If Not A VPN, What Do I Use?
Consider researching some dedicated privacy apps instead.
VPNs were never intended to have privacy in mind. They were used to allow remote workers to tunnel into their corporate networks. That was the original design philosophy. So some of the privacy stuff that a modern VPN uses is just tacked on. And some of it is just marketing jive.
Browser fingerprinting is so much more devious than IP tracking, or even third-party cookies. It reaches deeper.
Just ask anyone who was caught doing something that was against local law or in violation of international law, because they didn’t try to hide their browser fingerprint. Law enforcement, prosecutors, and judges are all being taught browser fingerprinting. And you might even get picked up for a crime you didn’t commit if you leak your fingerprint to the wrong people because they can fake it. Your profile will be used as their shield.
This is the next generation of online identification and tracking. Messing around with your IP address won’t protect you. So VPNs can’t stop it.
One privacy app that can circumvent IP leakage and browser fingerprinting is Hoody. They’re worth checking out. Hoody uses a new virtual machine to stream back web information for each browser tab you open. The fingerprint for every tab and web app is generated by the VM, not you. Tabs maintain their own context and are only correlated if you toggle that option (to work on a multi-tab project that needs to coordinate between tabs, for example).
The Hoody app not only hides your IP address, but it searches for the least censored version of content available on the web. It does this by firing off multiple requests across several regions, and only accepting the best results.
Hoody has Torrent-specific features that include caching relevant trackers for you, searching for extra seeders, and looking for file contents in static caches online.
So it might be time to get rid of your VPN and accept that a superior privacy app is out there. Never make such a leap blindly of course: Test it out yourself. But do it fast… browser fingerprints are the DNA of digital surveillance. Their impact is about to be felt far and wide.