I2P and Tor are both anonymizing networks, enabling people to tunnel out of their non-secure and open environments. Nonetheless, they achieve this in somewhat different ways. This article explains the benefits of each, breaking down their similarities, pitfalls, and things you must know to be safe.
Tor has been around for quite some time now than I2P. As such, Tor has much more been studied in depth by both the black hat and white hat communities. It was much better designed to serve as an out-proxy compared to I2P. This is due to the fact that Tor comes with numerous exit nodes than those on I2P. Moreover, Tor has the ability to use bridges and TLS, and performs highly better when it comes to evading state-level firewalls.
The Tor network has the advantages in that it’s able to hold a huge number of talented developers, some of whom are even funded. As a matter of fact, the network receives a superb amount of money for its development and maintenance, and this shows in the form of its white papers and excellent documentation. Tor uses a simple SOCKS proxy; therefore, your only choice is to be an exit, client node, or relay node.
On that note, as opposed to Java on I2P, Tor is written in C. This means that a Tor client typically runs with a smaller memory footprint and much faster. The network also uses the directory-based technique, offering a centralized focal point to manage the overall network “view,” as well as report and gather statistics, contrasted with the distributed network model on I2P. This centralization can efficiently handle Sybil attacks and reduce complexity at each level.
The I2P network was excellently designed by developers who had the internal network in their minds. Measures have been taken to create a better environment for hosting services rather than providing out-proxies. Indeed, this is the fundamental difference between Tor and the I2P network.
I2P was optimized and designed for hidden services, which are very faster than in Tor, because the network is self-organizing and fully distributed. To help with this, peers are chosen by continuously ranking and profiling performance, as opposed to trusting claimed capacity.
I2P is packet-switched, instead of circuit-switched, like Tor network. This means there is a transparent load-balancing of messages across multiple paths, rather than a single one. Essentially, all peers take part in routing for other. Unlike Tor’s SOCKS created for functionality, I2P’s API was designed for anonymity.
Tor seems to have an upper edge over I2P as far as offering better security is concerned because of its SOCKS proxy. However, it’s important to have in mind that most individuals won’t have a threat model where security would be of great concern because attacks tend to be very complex.
Finally, I2P tunnels are short-lived, reducing the number of samples that attackers can use in order to mount a serious attack with, unlike Tor’s circuits, which are typically long-lived.
Tor Vs. I2P: Which Is Better?
That is a very open-ended question and falls to technical choice at times. An example being peer-to-peer file sharing over I2P, in which case Tor doesn’t support nor encourage it. Other times it will depend on individual choices. You’ll find the content on the I2P and Tor networks to vary. However, this is not to say mean that you shouldn’t host services on the Tor network, or shouldn’t out-proxy with I2P. The networks are designed and developed with various strengths in mind.
Generally, if you are searching for an efficient out-proxy, Tor is an excellent choice. The network still has more to offer, granted that several exit nodes have already been blacklisted in order to prevent abuse.
If you are looking for a great onion routing network, then I2P would be an ideal choice, since you are afforded higher speeds and added protection to go along with it.