Have you ever asked yourself how it is possible that users are tracked over months in P2P networks although their IP address may be changing regularly because of dynamic IP addresses? We only hear reports about session based user identification. Session based means that shared files of this session are analyzed and recorded opposed to tracking a user over months.
Common sense tells us that the IP address is the major information needed to identify a user, but there are other information available to other users of P2P networks that can be used to track users even if the IP address changes. Those are, among other data the software and version used as well as the MAC address of the computer.
These two values are used to generate a hash that identifies the user even if the IP changes because the IP is not relevant for tracking users over a period of time. It is still recorded though with additional information like shared files, date and time, servers and all other information available as it is needed to identify the customer who has subscribed to the Internet in the end.
It could be that even more information are used to calculate the hash value. Everything that is not changed regularly could be possible. The hash value of a new user is then compared to a database table that contains the hash values of users that have been using the P2P network and linked if a match is found.
The option you have to overcome that form of user tracking? Changing your MAC address is probably the best option in this regard as software and version used is not really enough to identify a specific computer system or track a user over time unless it is an obscure version that no one else uses anymore.
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Ghacks is a technology news blog that was founded in 2005 by Martin Brinkmann. It has since then become one of the most popular tech news sites on the Internet with five authors and regular contributions from freelance writers.