Apr 13th, 2012
First Posted
Apr 13th, 2012

P2P Protocols

Emerging Technologies P2P Management Technology

Emerging Technologies bandwidth managment technology includes the capability to block and/or control p2p traffic for all of the most popular file sharing protocols. While some trivial bandwidth control systems may only allow you to block or control "known ports", ETs technology can sniff out the protocols even when they attempt to stealth on port 80. For ISPs with residential customers, colleges and universities, p2p traffic creates a significant problem in its seemingly insatiable requirement for bandwidth. Users of these programs use more than their "fair share" of bandwidth, therefore reducing the bandwidth available to other users, and also creating congestion and latency issues at the egress to the internet.

The Protocols

The protocols themselves create nightmarish traffic floods for each individual workstation running the protocols. While there are several distinct protocols in use, they all work similarly. Each device is both a server and a client, and they actively "chat" to exchange file directory information to satisfy user's search requests.

The Solution

ET's bandwidth management technology converts one of today's most compelling challenges into a non-issue. The ET/BWMGR software can "sniff out" these file sharing protocols and either disallow the peers to communicate altogether, or the usage can be throttled to acceptable levels. The "sniffing" is highly effective, and can discover the protocols no matter what ports they are using, even (and particularly) port 80, a common trick to bypass firewalls.

Which Protocols are Supported?

Well this is a tricky question. Not because the question itself is tricky, but because there isn't a clear answer. What you might know of as Morpheus or Bearshare, is really the same thing, Gnutella. There are many Gnutella products, and most of the popular ones you've heard of are Gnutella based. We suppport them all. We also support Gnutella2, which is the next generation of the protocol. KaZaA is a distinct and highly annoying protocol, one which we fully support. So is DC++ (directConnect). eDonkey is another, plus a few other obscure ones that customers have asked us to add, such as Bittorrent. We have support for Ares connections, so you can block it. Ares downloads are encrypted. If there is a big one, we've got it or we'll add it. But most of the clients out there use some flavor of the ones we support already.

Simplicity is the Key

Network administrators have enough to do without tracking down (or even keeping track of) all of the emerging P2P protocols, so we make it easy to manage the p2p nuisance by grouping all of these parasitic protocols into one pseudo-protocol called p2p. So to control all of the p2p on your network, you could use a rule similar to the following to limit all of the p2p traffic on your network to 64K in either direction: Imagine. You may be able to solve your most prolific network problem with one simple setting like this. Bandwidth management shouldn't be a struggle. When you have the right tool, its not.

p2p in 2012

The above document was written in 2004 or so, when the world was much different than it is today. p2p is like cancer or cockroaches: it mutates and becomes more and more difficult to kill. p2p protocols have implemented encryption and tunneling. They uses indirect methods of contact that are difficult to track. They have become more of a nuisance than ever. But the biggest issue with trying to throttle p2p as a primary method of bandwidth management is that 80% of p2p traffic is simple ICMP and HTTP, and it is indistinguishable from normal traffic. The transfers themselves are not what causes the problems, but its all the "chatter": hundreds of connections, automated extracting of directories, etc. So the truth is that p2p throttling will not solve the p2p problem .

So what is the best way to thwart P2P?

The best way to manage your network, not JUST to thrwart p2p, is to give each customer a bandwidth profile based on their IP or address range. This solves virtually every problem that can cause congestion on your network. No one user can dominate your bandwidth. Users can use whatever protocols they want, as long as they don't exceed their bandwidth allowance. If a customer wants to download a song, he can do it, without having general p2p controls stopping him. If a customer runs abusive applications, he only uses his own bandwidth, and only affects his own ability to use http or other well-behaved applications. If he complains, you tell him to turn off his p2p apps. He won't be affecting anyone else's internet experience. But the best thing that per-IP controls do is that it frees you from having to spend your entire life worrying about what people are doing. There is no way for a customer to get around the control. Encryption, tunneling, port disguising: none of them can bypass the per-IP setting. You just set it and forget it. Its the only way to run a network.
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