Garlic routing is an improved browsing technology that leverages multiple encryption routes to anonymize your Internet traffic from corporations, governments, hackers and ISPs. In this regard, it has a similar purpose as onion routing, which uses Tor-encrypted networks to deliver anonymity.
However, there are a few key differences. In onion routing, the data passes through intermediary nodes which are peeled back one at a time much like an onion. Also, Tor uses bidirectional tunnels to ensure more efficient memory usage, low bandwidth overheads and centralized controls.
What Is Garlic Routing?
Garlic routing is an extension of the onion concept where multiple messages are bundled and encrypted together, similar to garlic cloves. The hidden information is sent unidirectionally and will only be revealed at the destination.
The biggest advantage of this “garlic” technique is that it is peer-to-peer friendly because the “delivery status message” uses a separate route compared to the “garlic message.” Therefore, by using a different reply block, garlic routing turns the very concept of world wide web on its head. The idea is to ensure greater protection against detection of client activity, even when an attacker is participating in the tunnel.
To browse anonymously with garlic routing, you must download and install a software called I2P. While it may appear that there are many steps, don’t let that dissuade you, as this is actually a very easy installation.
I2P Download and Installation
The Invisible Internet Project (I2P) has contributed in a major way to garlic routing. While the anonymous browsing project seems to be in a beta phase, you can use it right now without any problems.
To download, visit the official link and get the software for Windows, Mac, Solaris/BSD, Android, Debian or Ubuntu. The following screens show the installation package for Windows.
Select a destination folder similar to regular Windows programs.
If you want, you can create an I2P shortcut in the Start menu or simply leave it right there at the desktop.
It will take only a few minutes for the installation to complete itself.
Once the installation is successful, you will get a final status.
Click the I2P router console, which will use your PC’s default browser for further installation. You must select a language first.
Go for a bandwidth test in the next step, as it will give you a measure of how much bandwidth you will eventually need.
As shown in the test below, the expected bandwidth delivered 2.46 Mbps download speed and 492 kbps upload speed. Keep these figures handy, as they will be useful in the next section.
Download I2P Firefox Browser Profile
Next, you will need to download a Firefox browser profile that can work with I2P. For that, you should already have the Firefox browser installed on your computer. This is the browser you will use for garlic surfing.
The download is quick and easy, and you need to run the browser profile program.
Click “I Agree” on the launcher setup license agreement.
Click “Launch the i2p browser?” as soon as the installation is over. In the future, you can directly launch the Firefox browser profile from your desktop window.
You will soon be greeted by the I2P router console homepage with an exhaustive list of I2P-related sites. Go to the “configuration page” to further tweak your settings.
At the I2P configuration page, you can see various sections that need to be manually adjusted, but the most important adjustment is for “bandwidth.” Remember the earlier section where the desired bandwidth levels were found. This is the place to fill in those figures.
Enjoy Anonymous Surfing
After allocating sufficient bandwidth to I2P, you can garlic surf anonymously as if it were a regular Firefox browser. The privacy is on another level since no one, including the ISPs, have any clue about your software, computer or IP address details.
You can use I2P garlic routing to send anonymous emails from a mail.i2p domain.
Similar to onion links, you will find a lot of i2p links which are also called “eepsites.” As with onions, these links won’t open on a regular browser like Chrome.
Uninstall the Program
If you want to uninstall I2P, you have to simply run the .jar uninstaller file, and it will not save a trace of your online activities.
The onions are very popular with dark web users and that is why they are attracting more attention from governments and ISPs. In contrast, the garlic routers are still insignificant enough to be blocked or be targeted by DDoS attacks.
How do you feel about the concept of privacy with garlic routing? Do let us know in the comments.