Prudent torrent users know to use a VPN to hide their Internet traffic. Unfortunately, there's a possibility that their true IP address is visible to anyone else connected to the tracker. Money put into a VPN subscription would be wasted in this case. So, how can P2P users do a torrent IP check?
The first thing to do is simply Google “what is my IP address”, to see your public-facing IP. Keep in mind that this is your IP for HTTP(S) traffic. Next, you'll need to ensure your VPN configuration isn't vulnerable to DNS or webRTC IP leaks.
What is a Torrent IP Address?
In short, a torrent IP address is the one used by your BitTorrent client. In other words, whenever you download a torrent file, your client, such as uTorrent, is assigned to an IP. If you don't use a VPN or a proxy, your real IP will be the one associated with your BitTorrent client.
When using a VPN, your intention is to have the VPN's IP as your torrent IP. But sometimes, things are not straightforward, and additional steps are needed to make sure you are safe. Without a proper check, you are taking the risk of having your real IP exposed.
Why Is It Important to Check Your Torrent IP?
After purchasing and configuring a VPN, some people assume they're anonymous. In reality, this is just the first half of ensuring anonymity. There is a chance the default VPN configuration will work out.
If it doesn't, you face serious potential consequences. These include copyright troll lawyers, law enforcement, and even malicious P2P users discovering your torrent activity and personal information.
The Process of Verifying the Torrent IP
It would be wonderful if we could just use Google or WhatIsMyIP.com to verify our IP address and be done. The process for verifying your P2P IP is a bit more complex. Those extra thirty minutes could be the difference between losing money in a lawsuit versus never being involved in one.
Before heading to the proper tool to perform your test, make sure everything is ready for a successful test.
- Head over to your VPN client and verify that it's connected to the server you'll use to torrent.
- Fire up your torrent client.
- Open a web browser of your choice.
Option 1: ipMagnet
If you only need to verify the IP address shown to others in your P2P swarm, ipMagnet is the tool for you. This tool will let you see the IP that swarm users see. You can also see the user-agent and the timezone other P2P users see. The only thing you have to do is open up the magnet link on ipMagnet, just like when you download a torrent file in your BitTorrent client. The web page will then show you a table with one or more IPs.
Understanding the test results
In the first place, make sure you take note of your real IP and the one of the VPN server you are connected to. Most VPNs provide this information.
You will see a detected IP, or more than one. With ipMagnet, you will see the results right away.
In a perfect scenario, you will only see the IP of your VPN provider. If that's the case, you're good to go. It means that the VPN is protecting you when you download torrents.
In case you see your IP, or even both of them (your real one and the one from your VPN server), then there is something wrong, and your real IP is leaking. This will require an investigation to find out what has to be changed. It may be a configuration issue, or it can be a lousy VPN service. You can find below a few tips.
Identifying the Reason for the Torrent IP Leak
A reliable VPN for torrenting is usually a solid tool. However, it can't ensure complete anonymity for everyone due to significant variation among users' configurations. Part of fixing a possible issue is making sure that you aren't susceptible to DNS leaks or WebRTC leaks.
Testing for DNS Leaks
A DNS leak happens when your IP may show up as your VPN, but your DNS servers reveal your real IP address and location. Testing for this common vulnerability independently is easily accomplished using DNSLeakTest.
When you visit the page, you'll see your own public IP address. To know the IP addresses of your DNS servers, you'll need to run a test. Click on the “Run Extended Test” button, and you'll see if your location can be harvested from your DNS servers.
Regardless of your results, keep in mind that your ISP usually supplies your DNS servers. This is why several organizations provide free DNS lookup services. By taking advantage of these, you can make sure that your ISP will never be able to see the pages and content you access.
Nowadays, most VPN providers offer a “DNS Protection” feature. Make sure you activate it. It will ensure that the DNS servers are the ones from the VPN provider, not the ISP. In case your VPN doesn't have it, you can use Google's free DNS servers. To take advantage of it, set your Primary DNS server (IPv4) to 22.214.171.124 and the Secondary to (IPv4) to 126.96.36.199. If you're using IPv6, Google still provides free DNS servers. You'd set your Primary to 2001:4860:4860::8888 and the Secondary to 2001:4860:4860::8844.
Testing for WebRTC Leaks
The original intention of WebRTC was to let users share content on a P2P basis in real-time. When the protocol came out, it was the first time users could do so without installing any additional programs or plugins. However, researchers quickly found out that most network-facing programs could be exploited through this protocol in 2015.
Though it's primarily web browsers that are affected by this, other programs like torrent clients could be, as well. Keep in mind that your IP address could still be exposed to other tracker users if you access their index in your web browser.
To avoid this risk, use a tool like BrowserLeak's WebRTC test. By accessing this page, you can instantly see if WebRTC can exploit your browser. If so, you will have to look up how to disable this feature. Note that Chromium-based browsers make it difficult to fully disable this, so you may want to consider a more secure option, like Firefox.
Testing the IP with Proxy Servers
For those using a torrent proxy service rather than a VPN, the process of checking your public-facing IP is the same. A proxy isn't as all-encompassing as a full tunnel VPN. Therefore, you'll need to be extra careful when testing your IP over various protocols. Remember that proxies don't protect against DNS or WebRTC leaks by default.
Remember that your “public IP” can vary depending on the protocol you use. That's why it's important to use independent DNS servers. Making sure you aren't susceptible to DNS and WebRTC leaks is also a must. Cross-checking your IP address among multiple tools and protocols is the only proper way to check your torrent IP address.