What is I2P?

This article will teach you all you need to know about I2P and how to connect to it. While the prospect of needing to learn how it works may cause some anxiety, we show why it’s actually very straightforward, thanks in large part to a recent release that requires only a few clicks to get started.

I2P is an abbreviation for the Invisible Internet Project, a sort of darknet that is completely independent from the clearnet. I2P is a project with origins dating back to the 1990s, but it has only lately achieved appeal among darknet markets and their users as it provides an alternate point of access. This is useful for folks who are unable to access their preferred darknet markets via Tor due to DDOS assaults or other network issues. AlphaBay, Bohemia, and Tor2Door are a few significant darknet markets with I2P sites.

What distinguishes I2P from Tor?

The main distinction between I2P and Tor is that it is a closed network that cannot visit outside sites (it can only access sites that finish in “.i2p”). Tor, on the other hand, can be used as a standard web browser as well as to visit “.onion” sites. In addition, unlike Tor, the I2P network is peer-to-peer, with each user acting as a node. It encrypts sent data numerous times and sends it across unidirectional tunnels via random middlemen, making it difficult to profile its users. This is in sharp contrast to Tor traffic, which has a distinct fingerprint.

Other distinctions include the fact that I2P uses Garlic Routing (as opposed to Tor’s Onion Routing), which means that data packets are bundled and encrypted together before breaking off at the correct destination based on their delivery instructions. This means that observers have no way of knowing how many levels are being used, and, more significantly, no method of reading what is being conveyed in data packets. I2P, like Tor, has its own API protocol and does not reliant on SOCKS.

In general, I2P is seen as more secure than Tor. While your IP address is revealed in the list of nodes connected to the network, there is no way to know what sites you are accessing, which may be avoided by connecting to I2P using a VPN, Tor, or a combination of the two. It does not work with Tails, though, because it requires certain setups to function.

I2P Installation Steps

First, you must install the I2P program, which is available for the majority of major operating systems, including Windows, Mac OS X, Linux, and Android. However, it is not accessible for iOS. I2P 9.5, the most recent release for Windows, is dubbed “Easy Install” because it does not require any further downloads to operate. This version is suggested for users of Windows 10. The installation procedure is simple and only requires a few user inputs (preferred installation language and file path for installation). You will also need to download and install Java if you are installing a different version or using a non-Windows operating system.

I2P will undertake extra configuration procedures via your Tor browser (if you have one installed) and utilize it as your default I2P browser after installation. If you use Windows, you can also use Firefox as your I2P browser because pre-configuration is handled mostly by a special plugin built for this reason called I2P in Private Browsing, which is quite simple to install. A similar feature is available in the Brave browser wallet.

I2P, like any other application, must be started before attempting to connect to its network, and it can then only be accessible using an I2P-configured browser. To properly configure your Firefox browser for I2P access, click to Settings and then Network Settings, then do the following:

  • Change the Configure Proxy Access to the Internet option to “Manual proxy configuration”.
  • In the “HTTP Proxy” field, type “127.0.0.1”, and “4444” for the “Port”.
  • In the “HTTPS Proxy” field, type “127.0.0.1”, and “4444” for the “Port”.
  • In the “No proxy for” field, type “localhost, 127.0.0.1”.
  • Click OK to update the settings.

The Network Settings will look like this when properly configured:

A few things to keep in mind when accessing I2P via Firefox or Brave instead of Tor include:

  • You will need to type “http://” at the beginning of the address, or else the browser will process the address as a search request.
  • Firefox might prompt you about username and password saving (we recommend never doing this for security reasons). This potential security hazard can be avoided by using the Private Window feature.
  • You will need to disable JavaScript in your Firefox browser for maximum security (some markets will not let you enter them until JavaScript has been disabled). To do this, type “about:config” in the URL navigation bar, search for “javascript” and change the “javascript.enabled” option to “False”.
  • You will not be able to browse other, non-I2P websites when using an I2P-configured browser. It is also recommended to avoid browsing the clearweb altogether when you have I2P running on your computer.

To stop I2P, right-click on the task bar icon and choose “Stop I2P” or “Stop I2P Immediately.” After your session has ended and you have disconnected from I2P, you must return to the original Network Settings (most likely “Auto-detect proxy settings for this network” or “Use system proxy settings”).

To summarize, I2P is a valuable tool to have at one’s disposal while looking for an alternative means to connect to a darknet market (that also has an I2P address). It, like Tor, can be a little slower than standard online browsing. It, too, does not provide complete anonymity to its users. It does, however, a fantastic job of assisting users in protecting their privacy, and many would argue even better than Tor.

Click here for a comprehensive selection of I2P documentation.

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