Consider the current methods of using a secure, anonymous and free Internet.
There are many restrictions on the Internet today. But in addition to regional blocking, relevant for our country, Internet users are often concerned about security and anonymity. What tools are better to use in order to “kill all hares” at once and not lose performance and convenience?
Why is online anonymity important?
When using the Internet “as is”, without VPN or Tor, websites, ISP and possibly other agencies get a lot of information about the user. From internet habits to location. It's good if this information is used for such harmless things as contextual advertising. And if the user is suspected of any suspicious or illegal activity? Then contextual advertising will seem like a trifle.
Technologies such as Tor and DVPN address security and privacy concerns. They intercept traffic between an ISP and a website without revealing the user's real IP address or other sensitive data.
What is Tor and how does it work?
Tor technology was developed by the US Navy Research Lab to help users connect to the Internet without leaving a digital footprint.
When you go to a particular website, the browser sends a request to the Internet provider, which, in turn, connects to the site. In the case of Tor, users do not connect directly to the website. They connect to Tor servers that use onion (multi-layer) routing to ensure anonymity. The easiest way to use Tor networks is through the web browser of the same name. However, the corresponding functionality can be "fastened" to any browser using third-party extensions and additional programs.
All user requests - in any case reach the Internet provider. But when using Tor networks, traffic is not sent directly from the client to the website. Instead, it is sent to the entrance node of the Tor network. This leaves the provider with no information about the final destination of the client's request.
Also, client requests are not sent from the login host to the target website. Instead, the data is sent to another node within the Tor network, known as an intermediate relay. From there, the data is transmitted to the output relay, which finally sends the data to the website. Upon reaching the exit node, Tor passes the data to the website that was requested by the user. Upon receiving the response, the Tor network sends the data back to the user along the same path.
Overall, when a user connects to a website via Tor:
the provider does not know which sites the user visits;
websites do not receive any information about the user.
In addition to this, Tor does not allow outsiders to somehow intercept the transmitted data using several layers of encryption. Each of these encryption layers "peel" at the input, in the middle, and at the output. Just like the layers of an onion. Hence the name - "onion routing".
What are the disadvantages of using Tor?
While using Tor provides users with anonymity and security, it also has some weaknesses:
Speed. Since the Tor network redirects all user requests through 3 internal nodes, this significantly affects the connection speed. The speed through Tor can be a hundred times lower than without it. Internet sites through Tor can sometimes take half a minute to load even with a high-speed connection.
Blocking some content. Since website owners do not receive user information such as IP address and third-party cookie data when connecting via Tor, they can purposefully block Tor traffic. In other words, some sites simply do not open through Tor or do not work correctly. There are few such sites, but you need to know about it.
Potential vulnerabilities. While Tor uses multiple layers of encryption and three different nodes to reroute traffic, the entry and exit nodes can be compromised, potentially leaking user data and location. Tor is not 100% secure.
What are decentralized VPNs?
First, let's figure out what a regular VPN is and how it works. VPN (short for "Virtual Private Network", in Russian "virtual private networks") is a network of servers that collect Internet traffic, encrypt it and send it to a website without exposing privacy.
The problem with VPN services is that they are owned by individuals. In other words, when using a VPN, all Internet traffic is routed by a third party. In this case, user data can be compromised at two points: at the ISP and at the VPN provider. To solve this problem, decentralized VPNs exist.
Decentralized VPNs are not owned by any particular organization with a fixed server location. Instead, services in a DVPN are provided by peers on the Internet.
Traffic to DVPN is routed using public devices connected to the DVPN network through a decentralized application. These devices are a collection of computers connected to a decentralized network and giving up some of their Internet bandwidth in exchange for a cryptographic token generated by the network. Because of this, decentralized VPNs often offer faster browsing speeds compared to Tor.
Thus, both Tor and DVPN are a network of computers connected to each other. They collect user internet traffic and send it to the desired website without revealing any personal information. However, DVPN uses blockchain technology to build the network, rather than onion routing like Tor.
All DVPN nodes can be rewarded for the services they provide, there is no need to somehow centralize the network. In addition to this, when using Tor, users do not control the exit node from where traffic will go to the website. Therefore, it cannot be used to access content from a specific country. A DVPN, in contrast, can be used to access country-specific content on streaming services, as users can select the country they wish to send traffic from.
Comparison of decentralized VPNs and Tor
Now that we have an understanding of how Tor and decentralized VPNs work, we can compare them to each other.
What to choose: Tor or DVPN?
If you're looking for online privacy and anonymity, Tor is the place to be. It not only offers multiple layers of data encryption, but also three-way onion routing. Together, this provides a very high degree of anonymity on the Internet.
If you want to unblock streaming content or visit blocked websites without losing speed, it is better to use a decentralized VPN.