Protecting yourself on the Internet is possible in a few different ways, and depending on your needs, you can choose for yourself which solution fits you the best. One of them is the Invisible Internet Project (I2P) network. It’s an anonymous network primarily created to keep its users hidden and protected from government surveillance and third-party monitoring on the web. I2P network has evolved over the years. Currently, it serves mostly as a way of securely accessing the Darknet. It’s encrypted, which makes it great for users who want to hide their identity. But the network has some cons as well.

So to what extent is the I2P network really secure?

Created back in the early 2000s, the Invisible Internet Project can indeed provide you with a certain level of security, but it has many drawbacks as well. Taking this into consideration, the main question is – can an I2P network be more effective than a Virtual Private Network?

What is an I2P Network?

I2P is a decentralized, anonymizing network, which allows censorship-resistant, peer to peer (P2P) communication. It works in a way where it encrypts all of your traffic by using an end-to-end encryption, running it through a volunteer-run network all over the world. In the I2P community, each machine in the network acts as a router, which is what makes this network decentralized. The Invisible Internet Project network uses a way of distributing traffic, called Garlic Routing, which encrypts multiple messages together to make them more difficult to track. All of the incoming and outgoing traffic is separated, going through different tunnels, adding an additional layer of anonymity while using it.

In comparison to Tor, the most popular network for anonymously accessing the Darknet, I2P is a much faster and more secure option. However, the main difference is that Tor is primarily designed for accessing the visible web anonymously, but can also be used for accessing the dark web. On the other hand, I2P is a dark web tool that can be used for accessing visible Internet anonymously. Also, I2P is a much smaller network compared to Tor.

Now, if we put a Virtual Private Network into this equation, a different approach can be taken.

Tor and VPN share some similarities, especially the fact that they both try to hide their users’ involvement with them. Contrary to this, I2P does not conceal the fact that you are using their network. However, it will make it excruciatingly difficult for someone to see what you do after you connect.

But in terms of safety, is I2P network more secure than a VPN? Let’s take a deeper look.

I2P Pros and Cons

Compared to Tor, or even VPN, I2P stands out in certain aspects. The first noticeable thing is that this network has a strong tunnel encryption and this gives its users the ability to customize tunnel length and duration. And because it’s a P2P network, the traffic can travel through different paths, stopping hackers from intercepting the message. These features make timing, or man-in-the-middle attacks, almost impossible. Moreover, the encryption used is very strong. All services on the network are called “destinations”. Each destination is identified by a 516-byte crypto key that consists of a 256-byte public key, a 128-byte signing key, and a null certificate, making it very difficult to hack. Another advantage is that P2P file sharing is allowed on I2P’s tunnels. It’s one of the main reasons why users choose this network over any other.

However, although the good features look very promising, the network has a few downsides as well. Some of the most annoying drawbacks are the inconvenient installation and use. While the download and installation procedures are not that different from any other software, configuring your browser can be tricky. Additionally, if you want to reach your content, you need to be logged on to the network, otherwise, your eepsite (the websites hosted anonymously within the I2P network) will be unavailable.

I2P Network or a VPN?

A Virtual Private Network is a piece of software that is meant to protect you. It’s one of the many available solutions for your online privacy. A VPN has similarities with an I2P network. However, ultimately they are quite different from one another.

While both networks are effective when it comes to protection, I2P is recommended mostly for torrenting, or if your intention is accessing the Darkweb. Keep in mind that you might be sharing your resources with groups that are also seeking privacy, such as hackers or even terrorist groups. A VPN, on the other hand, can be used for surfing the public web anonymously, excluding the last option.

Bottom line, it’s your choice. It all comes down to this, so it’s up to you to decide whether you need a VPN or an I2P network. Nowadays, online privacy and security are something you need to take into consideration as an active Internet user.  So, depending on your needs and preferences, make sure you are making the right choice.