The main goal of this plugin is to make it harder for an attacker to figure out your downloading habits in BitTorrent. One of the reasons BitTorrent works so well is that it lets you download from large numbers of connections — but these same connections offer multiple of opportunities for eavesdropping. Our recent study of the BitTorrent network shows that user connection patterns reveal strong communities that enable a guilt-by-association attack, where an entire community of users can be classified by monitoring one of its members. With P2P networks increasingly under surveillance from private and government organizations, SwarmScreen provides a practical and effective solution to disrupt these attacks.

SwarmScreen protects you by hiding your real BitTorrent traffic in a sea of connections to randomly selected torrents. So that you don’t look suspicious, SwarmScreen carefully adjusts random connections to appear the same as your real ones. Won’t this slow down my downloads? you ask. Of course: but SwarmScreen offers you an intuitive tuning knob to control the privacy/performance tradeoff — higher privacy may result in some performance loss as some of your bandwidth is allocated to hide your real traffic. We call our tuning knob SPF (SwarmScreen Protection Factor) — analagous to sunscreen, the higher the setting, the more privacy you get. Lower SPF values reduce privacy but give you better download performance, so you can pick the trade-off between privacy and performance.