The Onion Router (TOR) is one of the prime examples of just how dirty the internet community can be. Initially created to protect online privacy and the right to trade sensitive information in a fully anonymous way, TOR was quickly corrupted by some of the internet darkest users. Because .onion pages don’t appear on Google searches nor can you visit them by any means, even if you know their accurate domain name, these hidden portals are currently being used for all kinds of maleficent, harmful and abusive content such planning terrorist attacks, sharing pedophile content or setting up ransomware pages. Luckily for you there are some alternatives to TOR – even free ones which don’t require you to download any program – while others use the I2P network or act by the same standards as VPNs do.
The problem with hidden pages like these is that they are often targeted by NSA radars, which sometimes succeeds in tearing them apart. Others are simply discontinued or abandoned. Even though a handful of hidden pages are still around, the lack of updates and further support make them a short and outdated solution. However, it is still possible to find some services like the IprediaOS for instance – an operating system based on Linux – in which all connections go through I2P. I2P stands for Invisible Internet Project, a secure and anonymous overlay network and darknet similar to TOR executed by an I2P router which includes services as anonymous web surfing, chatting, blogging and file transfers.
Freegate is another example of a useful resource for fast and secure internet access. Developed by Dynamic Internet Technology Inc. – a pioneer in creating anti-censorship software – Freegate is a Windows exclusive which works by connecting to DynaWeb. DynaWeb is the company’s own P2P-like proxy network system and was originally created to provide access to forbidden sites for internet users in China. All it takes to run Freegate is a single executable file: neither any installation is required nor a slightest change in the system’s settings will occur.
JonDo uses a similar concept; being a free proxy software it allows access to the so-called JonDonym mix cascades. Despite being free, some “free mix cascades” are restricted while full speed and further anonymity features are an exclusive to premium accounts. In what technical requirements is concern, JonDo is an open source Java application so all it takes is a simple download to run the app on Windows, Linux and Mac. The app will then act as a proxy, forwarding your online traffic with multiple encryptions to the mix cascades, hiding your IP address. Their services include anonymous surfing, e-mail, chats and more. However, JonDo doesn’t alter your system’s settings, which means that you have to manually configure the proxy settings for each internet application you intend to use encrypted. Fortunately, JonDo’s website is pretty knowledgeable when it comes to tutorials. We recommend using the JonDoFox though, its own Firefox browser extension which is particularly optimized for anonymous and secure web surfing.
The Classic Alternatives
All the aforementioned software is excellent substitute for TOR. Veteran privacy experts may have noticed though that most of these work on similar premise as VPN. The battle-tested Virtual Private Networks are probably the best alternative, but these are one of TOR’s best friends too. VPNs disguise your IP address, offer you the best encryptions in the market along with specially designed protocols and some even offer smart DNS features. Furthermore, the vast majority doesn’t throttle your connection nor impose any limits on bandwidth, which means that if you’re looking into spending your day-off on Netflix or you’re simple into some torrenting, you should feel no speed stresses. And since we’re on the topic of torrenting, some VPNs are even fully compatible and inclusively support these practices by offering trustworthy zero log policies. Last but not least, not to forget that some VPN providers – like SurfEasy or Windscribe for instance – have their own handy browser extensions too.
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