PeerGuardian

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See also: Peer-to-Peer | Firewall

Open source filtering software that blocks access to or from a variety of sources including:

  • Advertisers (an ad-block for more than just your Web browser)
  • Companies associated with the RIAA
  • Educational instituations
  • Some spammers (although better lists exist)
  • Sources of Internet spyware
  • Government institutions

The software works like a Firewall but instead of blocking aggressive connections and vulnerable ports, it uses a blacklist/blocklist of connections to deny entirely. As of mid-2005 there are ~850 million blacklisted IP addresses and counting.

Although far from fool-proof, it provides an extra layer of protection to keep your computer free from a variety of harmful or annoying connections.

The software initially began as an attempt to prevent RIAA litigation but has grown to encompass other blacklists. As of 8/'05, it has has been downloaded from SourceForge 10 million + times.

Warning

Note: It is recommended that users download the block program only from the home page / SourceForge site listed above. The official Web site is the only place to be certain the software adware-free. See Openwares.Org entry.

Windows Only?

Although a *nix and Mac version are available, as of August, 2005 iA testing has shown the Mac version to have serious bugs. Users are advised to seek out other blacklisting programs. See the "Is it an unnecessary extra program?" section.

Allowing some IPs

Individual IP addresses can be expressly allowed or expressly forbidden from access at install. Individuals on college campuses, for example, would not want to block access to those IPs on the "Educational" blacklists. Also, many black lists may block useful or good connections as well as harmful sites. Right click on the bolded IP as it comes across and select "Allow ___ (ip address) Perminantly" or simply click "Disable" to disable the entire program.

A better answer to lawsuit fears

The block list may be a method used by some to restrict blacklisted sites and IP addresses from accessing many Internet services. This may be either in retaliation for its lawsuit frenzy or for fear of the of some difficult-to-police networks may come under expensive litigation or threats of litigation. The RIAA for example has instituted thousands of lawsuits that have been both highly publisized and highly unpopular and all but a handfull have not simply settled for around $4,000.

800 Million?!

As of approx Aug '05, the program blocks over 886 million IP addresses, although some may cover theoretical ranges, for example all IP Addresses starting with "121.22.*.*" which equal a possible space of 65,536 addresses. (Few institutions have the capability to use all 65 thousand so 8 million is probably not accurate.)

Negative

==

Sometimes blocks legitimate traffic. Simply right click on the blue address as it scrolls up the status window and select "Allow xxx.xxx.xxx.xxx Address Perminantly."

Successful blocks?

It is possible that a large proportion of the connections blocked by the program are actually normal p2p clients rather than copyright-enforcement bodies, who have the money and resources to set up surveillance nearly anywhere.

Is it an unnecessary extra program?

  • Firewall programs that already have blocking capabilities may be more efficient for some administrators, although one advantage of PeerGuardian, however, is that it is self-updating and can block Web traffic.

Issues with earlier versions

Although no longer a problem, some Internet sites make references to earlier versions of the program that took up a prohibitively large percentage of system resources on slower computers. Early tests on a CPU usage on a 400 mhz Intel PII tested at 20% with one BitTorrent client running. The program itself took up 7.4 megs of system memory.

One possible alternative for this resource-hogging was Protowall.

What happened to the Methlabs address?

The former Home Page was apparently hijacked according to the groups press release:

"The majority of the Methlabs.org administration and development team have been forced out of their website following a series of threats and incidents. The member of the group that had been trusted to handle the finances and servers slowly managed to take over each individual part of the website's assets, eventually claiming control over the entire group and locking out the majority of staff."

The whole Web site has been moved (see above).

Publicity

Similar Blacklisting Programs

Links