Tor vs. I2P vs. Freenet: Difference?

GMpeM

When people think of the “dark web,” usually what comes to mind, if anything, is Tor. After all, it’s the one that’s been in the news most often, and the terms are inextricably linked.

If you’re new here, I should mention that in a couple of my previous posts, such as How to Access the Dark Web with I2P! and Exploring the Dark Web on Freenet (Part 3!), I elaborated on I2P and Freenet a little bit. These two are other popular anonymity networks that, like Tor, attempt to preserve users’ privacy. For the curious, I will sum up the three of them.

Tor

tor_linux

Tor, as I’ve mentioned on some earlier posts, is both a network and a browser. The browser is available at Tor Project. (Speaking of which, they just released a new version of the browser, which you should download if you want to use it!)

The network attempts to keep you anonymous while browsing online by directing your web traffic through a worldwide system of relays and nodes (a.k.a. the Tor network).

The browser, on the other hand, is a fork of Firefox, which is optimized for privacy. It includes plugins such as HTTPS Everywhere, which encrypts communications on a number of major sites. It also includes NoScript, which helps prevent exploits via plugins like JavaScript, Java, and Flash, and protects against attacks like cross-site scripting (XSS)and clickjacking.

Here’s one of the confusing parts: the sites that people often refer to as the “deep web” or “dark web” are technically called “Tor hidden services” (.onion sites). One of the other features of Tor is that you can host websites on it anonymously – thus why it’s so popular. I’ve listed quite a few onion sites on previous posts, but if it’s your first time here, these are a few examples:

Fresh Onions

Ahmia Search Engine

Daniel’s Hosting

Contrary to popular belief, not all onion sites have illegal or disturbing material on them. In fact, some are very bare bones and, dare I say, boring. That’s probably because the point wasn’t for them to be scary.  A good majority of onion sites are more technically oriented, although there are a plethora of scams too.

I2P

I2P_router_console_0.7.7

I2P, like Tor, is an anonymous overlay network. However, there are a number of differences between the two:

  • I2P is message-based. Communications are end-to-end encrypted, and each client application is referred to as a “router,” so to speak. The client has their router build several inbound and outbound tunnels, i.e. a pathway to another machine on the network. Each user on the network chooses the “length” of these tunnels, and finds a happy medium between anonymity and speed, depending on what he values. This is referred to as “garlic routing” (as opposed to onion routing).
  • I2P has its own interactive services, like web browsing (using any traditional browser like Firefox or Chrome), plus email, chat, file-sharing, messaging, blogging, and a distributed datastore (like that of Freenet). See more about this at I2P Services.
  • Unlike Tor, I2P can be used for torrenting, using applications like I2P Snark or the Bittorrent network: Bittorrent over I2P. While you technically can torrent over Tor, there’s a great chance that it will break your anonymity.

This is only a very basic summary – if you want to know more, click the links there and you can read some of the technical documentation.

Freenet

freenet_scifi

Freenet is a peer-to-peer (P2P) network which allows you to anonymously share files, send messages, and publish websites that are, in theory, resistant to censorship. It also uses what’s called a “distributed datastore” for the purpose of filesharing. In other words, users “donate” a portion of their hard drive so that other users can share files (the datastore is encrypted, however).

When you first join the network, you are given a cryptographic identifier (key), which, in essence, becomes your “name.” (Think of it like James Bond’s 007 name.) The key looks something like this: http://localhost:8888/freenet:USK@ZVtoHFm~Lm5FctbjloVYwQ0b5KaAae6TeQGk8fswJs4,kRR5rHBQuNpaiFqZE-v3Rtv0e~LWFFbxbh9tAt44UEM,AQACAAE/ffffff/12/  And you thought onion links were hard to remember!

One major difference between Tor and Freenet is that all of the Freenet sites are listed in directories that you can find inside the network (which isn’t always the case with Tor). For example, there is one directory called “Nerdageddon,” which lists many (but not all) of the Freenet sites. However, it excludes pornographic sites and other such material:

freenet_nerdageddon

When you click on a site, your computer “downloads” the page from Freenet, and you must wait for it to load before being able to browse it:

freenet_downloading_censored

Although it’s for different reasons, Freenet, like Tor, tends to be slow. Again, it’s a trade-off between anonymity and speed, so it depends on which you value most. As opposed to Tor, if you want to join social networks or forums on Freenet, you need to download various plugins, such as Sone (a Facebook-like social network) or WebofTrust.

The upside of this is that you aren’t downloading programs from some random onion site  that you happened across, which may or may not have malicious intent. Plus, Freenet has the option of operating in either “opennet” or “darknet” modes. In opennet mode, you connect to anyone on the network, whereas in darknet mode, you connect only to friends.

Summing it Up

In any case, I find all of these networks to be interesting, and if you’re curious, I say explore them. Just know what you’re getting into, and if you don’t understand something, read the documentation or ask.

That’s not a crime, is it?

 

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Exploring the Dark Web on Freenet (Part 3!)

linkageddon-censored

I’ve noticed on trend on various websites lately.  When people use the words “deep web” or “dark web,” they tend to be thinking of Tor – which is why I thought I should talk about Freenet more often!

I’ve mentioned it on several previous posts (for those of you who are new to the blog…welcome!).

Interview: Arne Babenhauserheide of pyFreenet and Infocalypse

Alternatives to Tor: Freenet

This time around, let’s explore some actual Freenet sites (or freesites, as they’re called). While the interface may not look that exciting, that seems to be a common factor across networks like Tor, I2P, and Freenet.

The above screenshot is of Linkageddon, the “uncensored” link list on Freenet.  It lists every freesite, legal or not.  So I figured I’d start with Nerdageddon, which is similar, but removes most of the “offensive” content (though I’m not one to be easily offended).

Nerds We Are…Cool As Us You Wish You Were

nerdageddon_updated

At the time of this writing, that’s the latest iteration of Nerdageddon.  Some of it, as you may or may not be able to see, consists of FMS Sites, which are generated via the Freenet Messaging System (FMS) and are merely chat logs. I skipped over those for the most part.

One of the first sites I checked out was called The Frugal Dungeon Master (remember, you need to be connected to Freenet to access it).  If the title hasn’t clued you in already, it’s meant for players of Dungeons and Dragons (a.k.a. D&D).

dungeons_and_dragons

The text (which I’m sure looks infinitesimally small on your monitor) reads: “Tired of paging through PDFs? Here is a convenient reference for Dungeons & Dragons 5th edition.  It supports searching, sorting, and filtering.  This version includes the monsters, spells and magic items from the basic rules, the player’s handbook, and the dungeon master’s guide. I’ll add content as time and scan quality permit.

The reference is a Ruby on Rails web application. You can install it on one computer and then access it from any device on your network.”

Ooh, Ruby on Rails!  Now you’ve sparked my interest!  As a burgeoning coder, I plan to eventually learn it, but I’m still working on several other languages at the moment.  As they say:

keep_calm_rubyonrails

This is probably less exciting to those of you who aren’t into RPGs, or don’t code – but there’s more to Freenet, I promise.

P.S. If you don’t code, you may want to get into it – you may like it, you never know!!

Scammers Getting Scammed?

bitcoin_doubler_freesite

I also came across a suspicious looking freesite called Bitcoin Doubler Scripts (pictured above), which made this claim:

“Hi all.  he [sic] last year I was trying to find a good bitcoin doubler but it is not easy because most of the available software is not working.

I found several different versions and remade them to operate [sic] , fully functional software that you can use at any time on Your webpages..

I will soon expand this page which forum board [sic] ,will be good to exchange information about the operation of scripts.

On this moment I have ready four versions.”

He (or she?) then features four download links to the scripts, which I won’t include, because I suspect this is either a scam, or something with malware embedded.  Why do I suspect this?

Well, I’ve seen hundreds of these types of sites on Tor, and I don’t have reason to believe this one’s any different.  Hell, it could be one of the same people who’s offering it on Tor, trying to branch out!

I’ll give you a few examples I’ve seen (I DO NOT SUGGEST USING THESE! YOU WILL GET SCAMMED!!):

100x Your Bitcoins in 24 Hours!

100X_bitcoin_scam

Profit with your coins – and get rich!

10%interest ponzi

20% profit, payed from newer transfers

20%profit ponzi

the hottest dark web ponzi

120%_ponzi

get 5% intrest with your money [sic] 5%interest ponzi

Just the fact that each site looks almost identical (as well as the BTC addresses looking similar) makes me think that it’s the same scammer running all of them.  Plus, the fact that they used the word “ponzi” to describe one of them is very telling.  So I repeat: do not give them your money!

As for the Freenet one, I haven’t tried it so I can’t guarantee anything, but it’s likely just as fake.  Interesting what we discover sometimes, huh?  I hope I was able to prevent a few people from losing their hard-earned bitcoins today.

If you did, then don’t say I didn’t warn you.

As Eddard Stark Would Say…

eddard_stark_meme

For those of you who love Game of Thrones but don’t have HBO or HBO GO, there’s a freesite called TV.Game.of.Thrones that features all of the episodes.

game_of_thrones_site

I’m quite certain you can download them from torrent sites as well, but this was so easy to find, that I just had to throw it out there.  I must confess that I’m way behind in watching this show, but it was a cool find on here.

They also have I2P links in case the Freenet site goes down.

Come on, Where’s the Disturbing Stuff?

lolicon_animated

*Sigh* – I figured this question would come up eventually.  Well, trust me – there are plenty of disturbing and creepy things on Freenet as well.

If you browse through Linkageddon, you may see some sites with the text “Contains underage material.”  If you’re into CP or that sort of thing, that’s probably where you should go.

Now, if it’s something like lolicon, where it’s animated, I find that slightly less disturbing, but I still have to question the motives of someone who finds it sexually arousing.

Well, as you probably know if you visited any of the dark web for some time, there’s child pornography if you’re looking for it.  In my earlier post Dark Web: What Are Candydolls?, I described the phenomenon of “candydolls,” which are essentially underage girls dressed up in adult clothing in a sexual manner.

I have, unfortunately, come across a few sites like that on Freenet – but it’s to be expected if you’re using any kind of anonymity software, so I really wasn’t that surprised by it.

So again – if you really want to see the disturbing shit, just take a look through Linkageddon, and I’m sure you’ll come across it.

Is it For Me?

That being said, I really like Freenet overall, disturbing or not, and I think it has great potential to be a network for all kinds of purposes.  As I have the chance to explore it more, I’ll definitely write some more posts about it.

And yes, I still recommend that you go there – there’s no requirement that you visit the disturbing sites if you don’t want to.

If you see that shit…it’s because you were looking for it!