If you’ve been wondering about VPNs and whether or not you need one, you might also want to take time to learn what a decentralized VPN is and how it works. This guide will help you understand this modern tool and its role in online security and privacy.
It’s easy to make the argument that we are living in a pivotal age of the Internet. Now more than ever are we utilizing the technology to its full potential, and we are still making new discoveries. From instantaneous research to streaming services, the Internet is constantly making advancements in order to adapt.
With these new features and abilities, there comes an array of concerns from consumers. These concerns are not exactly baseless; especially when it concerns the topic of privacy.
If we are looking at this broadly, then we will find that there are plenty of groups worrying about privacy. Overall, there are three parties that are engaging in the conflict of privacy and anonymity on the Internet. Those particular groups are government agencies, cybercriminals, and the average internet users (i.e. us). There is some irony to this in that we give Facebook personal information and then gripe about our privacy concerns.
Putting that ironic twist aside, the impending worries surrounding privacy is difficult to ignore. Roughly 53% of users worldwide are more concerned with their online privacy now than they were in February of 2019.
With every technological advancement, there is always a noticeable growth in the capabilities and threats of hackers. Suddenly, the concerns about privacy become considerably more critical. However, we are gradually seeing a transition towards a more open, transparent and secure use of the Internet. Moreover, there are more proactive steps to take as a means to properly preserve our privacy.
There are many people who turn to VPNs for this, though there is a way to go a step further. To elaborate, it is entirely possible to go beyond this traditional precautionary measure.
What is it?
VPN is an acronym for ‘virtual private network’. This kind of system extends a private network across a public network. Doing so allows users to send and receive data across shared or public networks. From a certain point of view, it’s as if their computing devices have a direct connection to the private network. The development of VPN technology enables remote users and branch offices to access corporate applications and resources.
A VPN is the tunnel infrastructure that exists between two messages, ensuring that they are safe from the ISP. In other words, they make sure that they have protection from the middlemen. It assures that they exchange as encrypted messages with an end server connecting to the global network.
A VPN will, in essence, give you a different IP address from the one you are currently using. It will allow you to make it appear as though you are using the Internet from a different geographical location. In simple terms, it throws off your location and strengthens the general anonymity of your activities. This is particularly useful when it comes to accessing websites in certain countries that are censored or unavailable.
A majority of VPNs have a foundational design that enables them to provide security and privacy. However, there are still some issues with centralization to deal with when using traditional VPN services.
The problem of centralization
The hosts of more traditional VPN servers are specific centralized companies. It is through them that each digital transaction passes. Oftentimes, these centralized governance servers are under the control of a commercial entity that charges for subscriptions. Moreover, it sells data and bandwidth. Local regulations are what allow the disclosure of data regarding subscribers. What this means is that it is very likely that these companies are keeping and storing your personal data.
All in all, no central server is safe and there’s a strong possibility that they may be susceptible to hackers. They are rather counterintuitive in regard to meeting the needs of users for a VPN in the first place.
Decentralized VPNs and blockchain
A decentralized and blockchain-based VPN does not depend on a central point of control. Because it doesn’t have a single authority, the system is naturally impartial and comparatively more secure. The recording of the data onto a blockchain is in such a way that it epitomizes the inherent value of decentralization.
To put simply, a decentralized VPN brings together the traffic of numerous computers and communicate using a peer-to-peer system. Therefore, each computer functions as something of a server. Additional assistance from blockchain technology enables the nodes to make decisions that will have an impact on the VPN. In other words, it is very difficult to hack decentralized VPNs. This is because, in order to do so, each computer node would have to be subject to hacking. Only then is it possible to access the system. This creates a stronger security infrastructure just as cyber threats at home are becoming more prevalent.
Decentralized VPNs – Future prospects
Decentralized VPNs may also help be a future solution for user end problems with ISP throttling, where providers deliberately slow down your Internet speed or charge the highest prices for higher speeds. A decentralized Internet may potentially provide a more level playing field to users worldwide.
Blockchain technology is the biggest use case of decentralization, and one company, IntenseCoin, even combines blockchain tech directly with decentralized VPNs to increase the level of anonymity for crypto users.
Let’s assume that the future of private communication indeed rests with VPNs that are decentralized and blockchain-based. If that is the case then the sensible move would be to get the jump on it immediately. There are plenty of secure VPN servers out there that are the best of the best. These include such platforms as NordVPN, ExpressVPN, Private Internet Access, PureVPN, and Perfect Privacy.
Startups with solutions
At this point in time, we are beginning to see a surge of private communications startups. Specifically, those that offer users an all-inclusive solution that aims to preserve confidentiality. With it, there is a stronger sense of privacy pertaining to phone calls and Internet connection in the GSM system.
There are plenty of services that are offered, some of which include:
- A ban on geodata transfer
- Random routing
- Providing replacement outgoing numbers
- Communication with subscribers that is completely anonymous
- Modification voice features
- Virtual phone number rental for any incoming calls
- Subscriber connection that is anonymous
Nevertheless, there should not be an expectation for you to pay the standard cell network rate. This includes needing to pay to cover both unlimited data and calls. It’s apparent that private communication networks can get very expensive.
The Mysterium Network has a specific goal in mind. They aim to rewire the Internet so that it is faster, safer, and is accessible for pretty much everyone.
Mysterium is a decentralized VPN that garners its power from blockchain technology. It is an open-source network that allows anyone the ability to rent their unused network traffic. It does so while also providing a secure connection for those who are in need of it. On their website, they boast the following statement:
“Open source from day one, our technology is built on principles of transparency and freedom. Our decentralized infrastructure is made up of layered VPN protocols, blockchain, and smart contracts. It lays the groundwork for all kinds of world-first services to be built on top of it.”
They claim that anyone who has an Internet connection can join their bandwidth marketplace. Such groups that can benefit from the system include developers, freelancers, gamers, and HODLrs. For freelancers, they can open up a passive income stream and there is no need for a contract. The router works for them, all while they are getting their work done. Gamers are able to sell their excess megabytes without missing a beat. In the website’s own words, “giving back never felt so easy.”
By running a Mysterium node, you can power the network by sharing your spare bandwidth. In doing so, you will receive ETH in return. What’s more, there is no requirement for technical skills. The app is user-friendly; all it takes is a few clicks to get you up and running.
The bottom line about this network is that it was created with an array of groups in mind. Whether you are a developer or a HODLr, there are advantages to using Mysterium.
Payments in Mysterium
Among the many elements of the Mysterium Network, payments are probably the most crucial. Because of this, they would need to design a solution that was capable of meeting real-world requirements. Specifically, that of scalability and affordability. Moreover, it was imperative that this system abides by the mindset of decentralized ecosystems. Evidently, these are two opposing forces. There was no solution suitable for Mysterium Network that was readily available in the market.
As you can no doubt tell, there was no easy way around it for the platform. However, they were adamant about finding a solution that would fit these requirements.
Payments occurring in the Mysterium Network need to be lightweight and fast. Additionally, they also need to honor the core fundamentals of blockchain systems. These fundamentals are transparency, fairness, openness, and protection from both double-spending and fraud. It has a lot to juggle and it has to do so without relying on any centralized entity. Thus, it becomes trustless.
This trustless element is inarguably the hardest goal to achieve, but it is also the most critical.
Upon deployment, payments will guarantee that users can transact with one another in an autonomous manner. Moreover, without a need for an intermediary, which includes us. Should the system’s efforts prove to be successful, then users will not necessarily have to trust each other either. Rather, they will place their trust in the network’s inherent economic game, which will incentivize cooperation in everyone.
Mysterium developers are actively working to implement this payment solution on their testnet. Over time, users will take note of payment options that are available in the various interfaces and applications. At first, with the migration to the new payment model, there won’t be anything for nodes and users to do. Ultimately, users may see various engagement elements. These include a ‘top-up’ button in a Mysterium app, new functionality in SDKs (software development kits), and several others.
Upon launch, there will be the assignment of newly minted tokens to each user on the testnet. This way, users have the ability to experiment and play around with the system. As is the case with all new technologies, there will be a continuous process consisting of revisions and iterations.
At some point, node operators will start to receive tokens as they rent their bandwidth. Moreover, as they apply a pay-per-use model and move further away from monthly bounties. Any future payment and charging models may undergo adaptation as the network begins to operate in real-world market conditions. On top of that, nodes will also be able to withdraw funds to their wallets.
Upon the opening of the whole network, it will simultaneously present an array of possibilities for users. They can construct better user-oriented apps, integrate privacy into diverse services, and create a better user experience for withdrawing earnings. What’s more, they can include more use-cases for nodes.
One noteworthy platform dedicated to decentralized VPN is Lethean. The team has a particular goal in mind when it comes to privacy. They hope that with their services, users will able to reclaim their security and privacy online. Those behind Lethean’s development possess a collective 100 years worth of experience with both cybersecurity and blockchain technology. According to their website:
“We have created a unique VPN sharing marketplace that allows users to sell their unused bandwidth to earn passive income. This marketplace also allows users to shield their browsing habits from prying eyes by connecting to another user’s bandwidth with peer-to-peer VPN technology. The payment method used to purchase VPN services is Lethean (LTHN), our very own private cryptocurrency, making it a strong utility with an untraceable payment method.”
With the Full VPN, users can browse anonymously without exposing their browsing activity. Lethean gives its users the ability to take back both their Internet freedom and their anonymity. What’s more, it will allow them to skirt around government censorship and data selling. “Your identity belongs to you, and to you alone.”
What the future holds for private communication
Realistically speaking, there isn’t much you can do to avoid being tracked by giants in the digital world. The only possible way you could is by disappearing from the digital world entirely, which is practically impossible. Roughly half of the American population thinks that NSA’s phone surveillance capabilities are unacceptable. With that in mind, now more than ever is the ideal time to think about privacy.
To avoid the meddling of your personal data, a decentralized VPN might be the smartest avenue for private communication.
To reiterate a recurring point, the magnitude of available security with a decentralized VPN on the blockchain is evident. With next to no information in storage in one central location, it becomes exceedingly difficult for cybercriminals to hack. This is because of what happens when information is recorded in a blockchain’s distributed ledger. Once there, it is not possible to change, remove, or tamper with it. The network greatly improves transparency and security within whatever network you are operating in.
Traditional communication networks draw their foundation from centralized servers. Each of them functions with an information packet. This packet contains the exchange of meta-information in order to establish communication. From this, the central server can then resolve that communication. Only by completely removing the centralized server does private communication actually become “private.”
The general monopoly of a select few centralized VPN servers works against the principles of the blockchain economy. That being the sense of equality, candor, fairness, and sound logic. With the combination of a decentralized VPN network, there is an expectation of fair prices to be set. Why is this the case? Well, because it is a perfect competition.