As privacy becomes stronger on the Internet, more and more users decide to use different services to avoid leaving traces on the network. Each of the anonymous networks has been developed for different uses and purposes, so not all of them have the same characteristics.
ESET, a company specialized in the proactive detection of threats, shares advice on the different networks to learn how to use each one and be able to choose the most appropriate one in each context. Review an analysis with the advantages and disadvantages of Tor, I2P and FreeNet.
1. Anonymous navigation in TOR: Tor is the best known and used network outside the surface Internet. The Tor network is formed by nodes of entry, transit and exit, through which the user's communication passes until it reaches its destination. The multiplicity of hops and the encryption that it implements in each one makes it almost impossible to track or analyze a communication. It has approximately 200,000 users, which makes it the largest anonymous network currently. It is very simple to use and has support in several languages and for different platforms, such as Linux, Windows and even Android. In addition, the navigation speed is very good and consumes relatively few resources.
Anyway, the Tor network is still a network of anonymous proxies, often even overcrowded. Its use is very useful for traditional browsing, consulting websites and accessing non-indexed content, but perhaps it is not the best option for other types of communications.
2. Anonymous navigation with I2P: The Invisible Internet Project (I2P) is an anonymous and decentralized network that also allows its users and applications to navigate anonymously. Unlike the routing that TOR uses, in I2P several packets (or messages) are sent instead of one, which go through different nodes. In addition, unidirectional entry and exit tunnels are used, so the request and response will make different paths. In this sense, in I2P is much more complex to perform a traffic analysis than in TOR or than a traditional VPN, since it not only uses several nodes and tunnels, but also sends several packages, not just one.
The main advantage I2P is that it can be used for all the activities we do on the Internet, since it is compatible with most applications, such as browsers, Torrent and other P2P, mail, chats, games and many more. In addition, the project documentation is clear and complete, allowing you to customize your API for any application.
However, since it is not a network as popular as Tor, it does not yet have the same volume of users, which makes Sometimes the navigation is slower.
3. Anonymous browsing on FreeNet: FreeNet is the oldest network of all, it started operating in 2000. It is designed as an unstructured peer-to-peer (P2P) network of non-hierarchical nodes, among which they share information. Like Tor or I2P, communication travels between different input, intermediate and output nodes. The objective is to store encrypted documents, which can only be accessed by knowing the associated key, preventing them from being found and censored. In turn, it offers anonymity to both those who publish and those who download information.
Among its main functions, it allows you to browse websites, consult or read forums and publish files with strong privacy and anonymity controls. In addition, being a peer-to-peer based network, it is -of the three- The best option to publish and share anonymous content. However, this same functionality is against the fact that each user must host the material on their computer to share it, so it requires a large amount of disk space and resources.
“Each network was designed with a specific objective, therefore, the true potential is obtained by combining the best of each. Tor and I2P do not have the persistence that Freenet has, but the latter does not support streaming music or video as if Tor and I2P do. On the other hand, I2P has great flexibility and is easily adaptable to any application, but even so there is no better proxy system than the Tor network, ”says Cecilia Pastorino, ESET Latin America's IT security specialist.
“Like many tools, each of these anonymous networks has its functionalities, advantages and disadvantages, so, if you really want to have control over privacy and navigate completely anonymously, from ESET we recommend learning to use more than one. Knowing the risks on the Internet allows you to protect yourself, have the tools to navigate and enjoy technology safely, ”concluded Pastorino.