As Tor became a platform used by dark web users, other competitors have tried to take its place as the number one tool for online privacy. The Invisible Internet Project (I2P) is an anonymous network layer that provides peer-to-peer communication by encrypting user traffic and sending it through a network of roughly 55,000 computers. The advantage is that because there are so many paths that the traffic can take, it’s virtually impossible for a third party to spy on a connection.
What makes I2P interesting is the number of services and applications available. I2P Mail is an anonymous email service able to communicate with accounts both inside I2P and outside on the Clearnet (AKA any unencrypted internet). Although it is not being supported anymore, I2P also featured an instant messaging chat application: I2P Messenger. Despite the fact that it no longer has any support, it can still be downloaded.
In addition to this, the I2P Router Console also provides the files and the configuration instructions for users to create their own eepsite (an untraceable website) and an address book to keep track of the I2P resources that they are subscribed to. However, I2P also supports torrenting and streaming, which users can access by using I2PSnark. Nevertheless, they can’t cannot connect to non-I2P torrents or peers from within I2P.
I2P vs Tor
There are many similarities between I2P and Tor. However, what really matters is what differentiates the two of them. I2P is primarily used for accessing hidden services and transferring messages anonymously, unlike Tor, whose main goal is to provide anonymous access to Clearnet.
Additionally, Tor uses trusted directory servers while I2P uses a distributed network database to transmit information. This means that attackers will have much more difficulty invading this network since there are no fixed points to attack, which is an advantage for I2P users. And with I2P’s approach of using one-way connections between every server, an attacker would have to compromise twice as many nodes as it needs to compromise in Tor just to get the same amount of information.
A VPN Service Is Safer
Despite I2P being a great alternative to Tor and providing safety for those using it, its efficacy really depends on the user’s reason for using it. If you’re looking to run a dark web site then I2P is a great choice. However, if the goal is to have a secure and private connection, then a VPN service will be much better. Like Tor, I2P doesn’t encrypt its users’ connections, meaning that any unencrypted data traffic at the user’s system will arrive to the outproxy unencrypted as well. Additionally, the characteristics of an I2P connection can vary due to the number of hops between points.
A VPN service, however, is able to encrypt your connection making it impossible for third parties to spy on you. And since it uses only one VPN server at a time, a VPN connection will be much more stable than an I2P connection. Then there’s the fact that installing a VPN program is much faster, easier, and more secure than configuring your browser to work with I2P, as a corrupt configuration with the latter may lead to data being exposed.
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