I2P stands for the Invisible Internet Project and it refers to a decentralized anonymizing network based on Java with almost the same principles as Tor. I2P was created from scratch as a stand alone darknet. Just as with Tor, people who use I2P establish connections with each other using peer-to-peer encrypted tunnels. However, there are some crucial technical differences.
While Tor uses a centralized directory to handle the overall view of the network and to collect and report statistics, I2P works with a distributed P2P model.
Instead of the Onion routing used by Tor, I2P uses Garlic routing. This encrypts multiple messages combined to make things more difficult for attackers who want to carry out traffic analysis.
I2P tunnels are uni-directional, meaning that incoming and outgoing traffic are separate, boosting anonymity.
Instead of Tor’s circuit switching, I2P relies on packet switching, which involves transparent load balancing of messages across a variety of peers, instead of a single path. In essence, all peers route for others. Another difference is that I2P has its own API, unlike Tor, which uses SOCKS. This means that I2P is more secure than Tor.
Using hidden service, I2P is faster than Tor, which was based on P2P downloading and it is more secure and solid. Tor is a tool that allows you to access the web anonymously and at the same time, it can be used as a Darkweb. I2P is a Darkweb tool that can be used to access the surface web in an anonymous way via Outproxy’s’, which are the same as Tor Exit Nodes. However, it should be noted that I2P Outproxies are affected by the same vulnerabilities as Tor Exit Nodes. There are also less options available given that I2P doesn’t have as many users as Tor. This also means that that I2P Outproxies are more prone to attacks. Like with VPN and Tor, the fact that you are using I2P is not concealed. Others can see that you are using the service. However, it will be practically impossible for them to know what you do when you are connected.
I2P is essentially an internet within an internet and when you connect to it, you are able to send email, browse websites, host websites, use blogging and forum software, chat anonymously and more. With I2P, you can also stay anonymous while you browse the open web, although it is not the best service for this purpose.
VPN and Tor
VPN and Tor are two solutions that allow you to enjoy online privacy and anonymity. While Tor is very secure, it is not the right choice when it comes to downloading content since it is very slow. VPNs offers security, but not in the same level as Tor since you need to trust that your VPN provider won’t log your activities and compromise your privacy. However, a VPN is the best option for P2P downloading and streaming since it is considerably faster than Tor. Both Tor and VPNs allow you to access the visible or surface web, which is publicly indexed, but there is another internet, which is known as the Dark Web, or Dark net. It features websites that are not indexed by search engines.
The Dark web
It is difficult to establish how big the Dark web really is. The majority of it consists of private websites, which are not listed by search engines. In some cases, this could be because they are not yet ready or meant to be shared with the public. There are also Usenet groups, IIRC chats and other legitimate data included. In addition, there are “darknets” that can be accessed by the public and that offer strong anonymity. I2P and Freenet are two of the most popular options. While the dark web can offer a secure option for political dissidents and whistle-blowers to share confidential information without compromising their anonymity and safety, it is also often associated to criminal activity.
Tor was mainly designed to get access to the public internet in an anonymous manner. However, this is one of its main vulnerabilities since it offers a limited number of exit nodes, which can be easily blocked. There is also a risk of “honeypot” exit nodes set up to monitor traffic and to find out the identity of Tor users, although the way in which the onion router is designed should still keep your anonymity. To tackle the weaknesses, Tor developed a Hidden Services protocol that allows Tor-only websites (.onion) and services to be available only within the Tor notwork.
This means that users won’t have to access the visible web using exit nodes that may not be safe. Tor Hidden Services works as a Darkweb and it is the most popular option of its kind. Since Tor was not designed as a Darknet, I2P and Freenet are alternatives that are preferred by many due to the fact that they were originally created as Darknets, which gives them an advantage.
Should you use I2P, VPN or Tor?
The decision will depend on what you want to do, but you don’t need to settle for just one of them. The three options can be used at the same time and this would be the best solution.
I2P is the most convenient option if your main purpose is to access the Dark web. It may not be as popular as Tor Hidden Services, but it works well and it is ideal for P2P downloading. I2P is a free option to access the visible web with anonymity, although the limited amount of Outproxies could affect the level of anonymity that you get.
VPN is an excellent choice for browsing the general internet and since it is fast and easy to use, it is a highly popular technology. It also offers a strong level of privacy and offers the best performance when it comes to downloading P2P. Using a VPN on a regular basis helps you to protect your online traffic from eavesdroppers and hackers.
Tor is great for anonymity and it would be the most secure option for whistleblowers. It is possible to boost the anonymity by connecting to Tor through a VPN service. If you are looking for a free way to surf the internet anonymously, Tor is also effective, although it can be very slow. Still, it is well-established and more popular than I2P.