• Anonymizers

last modified July 20, 2016 by strypey

There are a number of ways 'walking with the crowd' that make harder, if not impossible, for your online activities to be tracked. It's difficult to be sure how effective each of the available systems are, and to decide which is the best system to use. Here is a brief introduction to some of the systems I've read about, in the order I discovered them. Big thanks to this rather technical discussion on the TOR blog which introduced me to many of these systems. Over time I intend to test these and other systems, read a wide variety of reviews, and add more details to this page. Strypey.

 

FreeNet

From the FreeNet Project homepage

"Share files, chat on forums, browse and publish, anonymously and without fear of blocking or censorship! Then connect to your friends for even better security!"

Warnings

The trickiest thing about FreeNet is figuring out how to install it ;) One criticism I heard about 10 years ago when I first heard of FreeNet is that because it runs as a separate application (rather than a browser plugin or web app) it's easy to see that it's running on your PC. This was in a discussion about protecting whistleblowers, especially in countries like China with brutally repressive regimes, so not relevant to users in countries with less overtly oppressive regimes. 

 

TOR

An explanation of TOR from the overview page of the TOR Projectwebsite:

"Tor is a network of virtual tunnels that allows people and groups to improve their privacy and security on the Internet. It also enables software developers to create new communication tools with built-in privacy features. Tor provides the foundation for a range of applications that allow organizations and individuals to share information over public networks without compromising their privacy."

Warnings

"Tor can't solve all anonymity problems. It focuses only on protecting the transport of data. You need to use protocol-specific support software if you don't want the sites you visit to see your identifying information. For example, you can use Torbutton while browsing the web to withhold some information about your computer's configuration.

Also, to protect your anonymity, be smart. Don't provide your name or other revealing information in web forms. Be aware that, like all anonymizing networks that are fast enough for web browsing, Tor does not provide protection against end-to-end timing attacks: If your attacker can watch the traffic coming out of your computer, and also the traffic arriving at your chosen destination, he can use statistical analysis to discover that they are part of the same circuit."

 

GNUnet

From the homepage of the GNUnet website

"GNUnet is a framework for secure peer-to-peer networking that does not use any centralized or otherwise trusted services. A first service implemented on top of the networking layer allows anonymous censorship-resistant file-sharing."

Warnings

The GNUnet FAQ has a good plain language explanation of the limits of encryption and anonymity software.

 

I2P

From the homepage of the I2P website:

"I2P is an anonymizing network, offering a simple layer that identity-sensitive applications can use to securely communicate. All data is wrapped with several layers of encryption, and the network is both distributed and dynamic, with no trusted parties."

Warnings

"I2P is still a work in progress. It should not be relied upon for "guaranteed" anonymity at this time, due to the relatively small size of the network and the lack of extensive academic review. It is not immune to attacks from those with unlimited resources, and may never be, due to the inherent limitations of low-latency mix networks."

 

Obselete projects

These projects have been removed from this page, as they don't appear to be actively developed. However, their code and some documentation may remain available, and may be of use for research and comparison purposes.

 Anomos appears to be a dead project. Phantom appears to be a dead project too.