Category

decentralised vpn

Mysterium Network Product Updates – November 2020

Mysterium Network is building a decentralised VPN. Our global network is open, permissionless and distributed. Last year we focused on finetuning our node software, and understanding the dynamics of incentivised networks. This year, we’re focusing on building censorship-proof applications. If you haven’t already, please make sure to download Mysterium VPN for Windows, Mac and Android. Let us know what you think on النقاش or تويتر.

The past month has seen us charge full steam ahead with our Testnet 2.0 upgrade. With this upgrade comes some exciting new features and functionalities for both users and node runners within the network.

Check out these latest product updates;

 

Testnet 2.0 launched (beta)

We deployed the newest version of our smart contracts onto the Goerli testnet.

This updated Testnet 2.0 (version v0.41 of the Mysterium app) is being tried out by a small group of beta testers. Based on their feedback and experiences, 2.0 should be released for everyone else very soon.

With this upgrade, node registration flow has changed. Providers will get free registration with zero stake (while still on testnet) and should keep their same Testnet 1.0 identity. For providers, any earned settlement is two times cheaper than before.

These new smart contracts are also using a new version of MYSTT token. It’s essentially the same as our real MYST token, but on Goerli testnet. It has 18 zeros after comma (instead of 8 ), which required us to refactor all payments-related code to account for micropayments correctly.

 

Top up with your crypto of choice

All Android beta testers can now top up their Mysterium VPN balance using various cryptocurrencies (other than MYST), such as BTC, LTC, ETH, Dai and more! This will soon be available to our entire community of Android users. Note you’ll need to download or update to the latest version of the app (v0.40+) when available.

This functionality is supported by an upgraded Hermes protocol, with our micropayment hub now supporting multiple chains.

 

Unblocked in China

We’ve been working hard to reverse the ban of Mysterium VPN in China. The first iteration of our unblocking is done. Those who start using Testnet 2.0 apps (node v0.40+) will be able to access Mysterium from China!

 

Cleaner UI

We updated the Web UI so it is far more stable, with fewer glitches.

We found and fixed lots of bugs found during ALPHA testing in preparation of our upcoming node release.

We also created user-friendly consumer CLI commands. Now it’s much easier to use Mysterium VPN for advanced Linux users and on servers.

 

Matic x Mysterium 

We started working on our integration with Matic Network. Most of our infrastructure components are ready for Matic, so now we’re working on building the Matic<>Ethereum bridges needed before its public release.

 

My.Mysterium.Network updates

We updated and deployed multiple versions of MMN, so users of Testnet 1.0, Testnet 2.0 and the upcoming betanet could get access to an aggregated node dashboard. The Testnet 2.0 version of MMN will look a little different than yje current version, and we hope it will solve a couple of usability problems we had before.

Nodes can also store beneficiary (payout) wallet address on the Ethereum blockchain, instead of a database. The new MMN has been adapted so it can be used for bounty payments.

We also discovered some node runners who were cheating the system. We therefore started a blacklist so they could not participate in any future bounty program.

Want to get involved in Mysterium Network today?

Mysterium Network is a decentralized VPN, with a growing global residential IP node network. There are versions for  ذكري المظهرMac and Windows, currently free before our full launch.

Stay tuned for more updates. If you are interested in participating, running a node, or generally have any questions, jump into our discord channel and speak directly with our core team.

Matic Network powers Mysterium P2P payments

Are you ready for faster, cheaper dVPN transactions? Matic Network is making it happen for you!

 

We’re excited to share that we’ve partnered with Matic Network. We’re only weeks away from our live integration with their custom Layer 2 solution, which will provide all users of شبكة مستيريوم الافتراضية الخاصة غير المركزية (dVPN) with almost instant P2P payments, at a fraction of the cost. (Quite literally, it’s a millionth of a fraction…)

 

The problem we are solving with Matic Network

As the wider community is surely aware, we as an industry have been facing specific challenges with expensive transaction fees on the Ethereum blockchain. 

With the freedom of speech online being debased, a global pandemic and other macro forces in play  – we see it as a priority to enable peer to peer payments in the most frictionless way possible.

Mysterium Network, with our pay as you go service, is a natural ally for emerging markets when high transaction fees on Ethereum lock these users out.

This integration with Matic Network will mean that Mysterium account creation and top-ups will happen on a sophisticated and scalable Layer 2 sidechain, instead of on the Ethereum blockchain.

MATIC network

What this means in technical terms:

  • Hermes, Mysterium’s accounting hub, will be running on both Ethereum and Matic – find out more about Hermes hub in our micropayments whitepaper.
  • You will be able to move MYST tokens onto Matic via a Hybrid Plasma-POS Bridge. This bridge provides a POS and a Plasma option to bridge assets between Ethereum and Matic. 
  • The mysterium payment system will support cross-chain payments. This means that VPN users can have funds on L2 Matic chain, and Mysterium node runners can accept funds on L1 (Ethereum)

 

Some relevant numbers – registration TX fee on…

ETH mainnet: 10.3322418978 MYST

Matic: 0.000005699966589 MYST

In short, Matic is  1, 812, 685 times cheaper!😱

 

Want to know more?

We have written extensively on the topic in the context of building out a global censorship-resistant layer. For those interested: 

  1. Layer 1, 2, 3 and beyond: The search for the cheapest and fastest microtransaction
  2. Introduction to micropayments in a decentralised virtual private network (dVPN)
  3. Read our technical deep dive on peer to peer micropayments.

Want to get involved in Mysterium Network today?

Mysterium Network is a decentralized VPN, with a growing global residential IP node network. There are versions for ذكري المظهرMac and Windows, currently free before our full launch.

Follow us on Twitter for regular updates or jump into our discord channel to speak directly with the core team.

 

How To Bypass Internet Shutdown

internet blackout toolkit

How does an internet shutdown work? And how do you bypass internet shutdowns? Learn about the different tools, platforms and software that will keep you online.

Discover and download the Internet Blackout Toolkit so you can be prepared and keep connected.

What is an Internet Shutdown?

In simple words, an internet shutdown involves intentionally disrupting or blocking internet access. They are also referred to as kill switches and blackouts. They can be done through throttling, when connectivity speeds are reduced to such a slow pace it’s almost impossible for pages to load. It’s also done by working with Internet Service Providers to cut off web access altogether.

Internet blackouts can occur at a localised or even national level, where an entire country has its telecommunications cut off. They are divided into two categories;

Partial Shutdown: The government limits access to specific websites or apps. A partial shutdown is done to prevent people from sharing information with others, typically via social media. 

Total Shutdown: In a total shutdown, all internet services are entirely stopped, including mobile data services and broadband carriers. The internet is no longer functional, and people cannot get online via any device. In developing nations, where internet access is unreliable, people take some time to understand that an intentional intervention is taking place. 

Shutdowns are becoming more common every year. In 2015, only 15 shutdowns were documented. This number rose to 56 in 2016. In India alone, Human Rights Watch reported 20 shutdowns in 2017. However, www.internetshutdowns.in documented 41 shutdowns for the same period.

Why are Internet Shutdowns Used?

Most governments around the world apply censorship in some way or another. But a total Internet shutdown has a more immediate and widespread effect.

Concerns for national security are the leading cause of internet shutdowns globally. But governments also claim that shutdowns are necessary to prevent the spread of misinformation and ensure public safety

Some common reasons given for blackouts: 

More often than not, internet shutdowns are a means to control the views and actions of people. They limit a citizen’s ability to access information and express themselves freely. It means businesses are put on hold, students can’t study, and critical health services cannot be reached. Overall, the economy suffers and social life is disrupted. 

Internet shutdowns and your human rights

In more extreme cases, shutdowns disrupt democracy and journalists cannot report on government corruption or abuse. Social media blackouts are also commonly used during elections to minimise public discourse, stifle dissent and weaken minority groups. These platforms for open expression and communication, such as Twitter, are a threat to many dictatorial regimes and are therefore blocked. It’s far easier to control and promote the official government narrative if the general population is silenced. 

Unsurprisingly though, internet blackouts tend to attract global attention and put pressure on countries that use them. This produces the Streisand effect, in which trying to hide information or silence voices can cause the unintended effect of bringing these events even more attention. By incorporating transparency into governmental procedures, civil unrest is less likely to occur. 

The world leader in internet shutdowns is India, who frequently shutdown the internet in certain regions for reasons such as avoiding loss of life during periods of crisis. Yet an outdated law from 1885 is used to justify these frequent internet shutdowns. In 2019, authorities shut down the internet in Kashmir for months, revoking their autonomy and statehood. This was deemed necessary to avoid “to maintain security in the restive territory claimed by both India and Pakistan.”. 

However, a study by Stanford Global Digital Policy Incubator states that shutdowns are counterproductive to discouraging violent events. The study found there was an increase of violence by four times when networks were disrupted. 

Other experts believe that as the frequency of internet shutdowns increase, they will become normalised. So while national security is the initial justification, citizens may become complacent over time, even as the use of shutdowns are used for more sinister purposes.

Impacts of Internet Shutdown

Aside from the threat to people’s human rights, internet shutdowns have a major impact on national economies, jobs and growth. Businesses are cut off from their customers, suppliers and distributors, incurring huge losses that governments won’t simply pay back. 

According to Brookings, in 2015-16, internet shutdowns cost the entire world $2.4 billion, with India alone suffering a loss of $1bn in economic production. During the Arab Spring in Egypt, the cost of an internet blackout resulted in a $90 million loss. If the shutdown continued for the whole year, it would have cost 3-4% of Egypt’s GDP

In Cameroon, many entrepreneurs suffer during an internet shutdown. Businesses that rely on the internet, especially e-commerce websites, were adversely impacted. As a residual effect, shutdowns prevent investment opportunities; if businesses operate in a country with frequent shutdowns, investors are not likely to back them, as they can’t continuously run their business operations. 

If a website is hosted in a particular country that experiences a blackout, this means the rest of the world also loses access to that service. This could disrupt or cut off supply chains, financial transactions, interpersonal communication, and enterprise workflows. It may also have a localisation effect, as the internet no longer becomes a reliable platform for business, forcing companies to turn inward, rather than outward and join the global economy. 

Aside from the economy, most people depend on the internet in some way in their daily lives. Without a functioning internet, fundamental services like healthcare, education, banks, and other public services are slowed down or come to a standstill. Quality of life is greatly diminished and the risk to livelihoods and health increases, especially when people can’t contact emergency services.

A local internet shutdown can also have a significant technical impact on the rest of the internet. The web is an interconnected network where everyone contributes to the system as a whole. Internet shutdowns can undermine the network and generate systemic risks.

How to Bypass Internet Shutdowns?

The United Nations Human Rights Council condemned internet blackouts for breaching your human rights. And while internet shutdowns are still becoming more commonplace, there are ways to arm yourself now in case you experience one. 

Here are some ways to bypass internet shutdowns; 

Use a VPN

A VPN (Virtual Private Network) creates a secure portal between devices, providing an encrypted connection to the internet no matter where you are. When you use a VPN, your computer or phone is connected to a VPN’s server, located overseas. This hides your IP address and enables you to visit websites that were restricted before, as you’re “tricking” your ISP into thinking you’re somewhere else. VPNs are regarded as the easiest and safest way to bypass internet shutdowns. 

Laws around the use of VPNs vary by region. It’s important to understand the security aspects of each network before you use them. You can read through That One Privacy Site to learn about these different virtual networks.

Mysterium Network offers a decentralized VPN, which is built on the world’s largest P2P network. You can easily select from a list of locations around the world to connect to, unblocking content. It’s open-source and available for Mac, Windows, and Android. 

Also ensure that websites you visit are running over HTTPS (Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure), even when using a VPN. This means you will always access the original website and not any modified version of it. You can install HTTPS Everywhere extension for Chrome, Firefox, and Opera, to guarantee you’re browsing the encrypted version of the website. 

Circumvention Tools and Proxies

Circumvention tools help you bypass censored websites and anonymously browse the internet. They can help you become undetectable to ISPs and governments. Users channel their traffic via a different computer – called a proxy. 

Psiphon is an award-winning circumvention system that leverages open-source web proxies, helping you skirt around content-filtering systems. 

Lantern is another open-source proxy software application for desktop and mobile. It provides users access to the open internet. Lantern is different from other tools as it leverages peer-to-peer connections for internet connectivity when servers are not available. 

Tails is an operating system that allows you to browse the internet on any computer. It uses cryptographic tools to encrypt email messages and files.

Tor Browser is a tool for accessing blocked websites without being tracked. It routes your traffic through a global node network run by volunteers, much like a decentralized VPN. This prevents surveillance of your browsing habits or tracing your location. It is very popular among journalists and privacy advocates. It’s available for Linux, Mac, Windows, and Android. 

Whonix is a free and open-source desktop operating system (OS) that is specifically designed for advanced security and privacy. The software helps you run your apps anonymously, anonymising everything you do online. The project suggests it’s the best way to use Tor, as it provides the strongest protection of your IP address. Whonix is available for Windows, macOS and Linux.

The Guardian Project also offers apps such as Orbot that help you access the internet anonymously by encrypting your internet traffic.

Use censorship-resistant websites and networks

Unstoppable Domains is a platform to launch uncensorable websites. The domain runs on the blockchain (decentralized and permanent) and is stored in your cryptocurrency wallet, so no one can take it down but you. You can also use their chat and email functions, so you can communicate directly peer-to-peer. 

I2P is an anonymous network built on top of the internet. It allows users to create and access content and build online communities. It is intended to protect communication and resist monitoring by third parties such as ISPs. All data is wrapped with several layers of encryption, and the network is both distributed and dynamic, with no trusted parties. 

Freenet is a peer-to-peer platform for censorship-resistant communication and publishing.

The software lets you anonymously share files, browse and publish “freesites” (web sites accessible only through Freenet) and chat on forums. Freenet is decentralised to make it less vulnerable to attack, and if used in “darknet” mode, users only connect to their friends, making it very difficult to detect. Communications by Freenet nodes are encrypted and are routed through other nodes to make it extremely difficult to determine who is requesting the information and what its content is.

Communication Tools - encrypted and offline

There are messaging tools that are designed for private and censorship-proof communications. Popular apps like Telegram encrypt your messaging, including client-client encryption with Secret Chats. Signal is also well-known for its encryption and security.

Vuvuzela is a private chat application that hides metadata, including who you chat with and when you are chatting. Vuvuzela supports millions of users and is secure even if the network and a majority of the servers are compromised.

There are also offline communication tools that don’t require any internet access, but you’ll have to download and set them up when online.

Tools like Briar and Firechat are encrypted messaging platforms and rely on peer-to-peer networks. Moreover, they’re free and open-source.

Another project is Bridgefy.me that works on a mesh network (more on these below). This helps you use applications without an internet connection. Available on both iOS and Android, it covers thousands of users at the same time. 

While you’ll be unable to browse Facebook and Google, you can create a chat room and voice your message there during an internet shutdown.

Mesh networks

In certain scenarios, governments can also shut down central telecom systems. This can cut off all connection, or reduce its quality so much that it’s barely useable. This creates a need for an entirely new network altogether. 

Instead of connecting to the internet through your ISP, mesh networks enable direct connection between devices, without any middlemen. Mesh networks automatically reconfigure connections, depending upon the availability and proximity of bandwidth and storage.

As they are decentralized networks, it isn’t easy to shut them down. One possible way to do it is by shutting down each node, which is near impossible. Hence, mesh networks are robust and resistant to internet shutdowns.

Mesh networks are a relatively new concept and haven’t been implemented on a wide scale use yet. However, projects like Commotion are accelerating the adoption of mesh networks. You can easily set up your own network using their technology.

More Resources

There are lots of great resources that can link you to even more tools. Check out these guides and lists, but note some of these apps and software are a bit more advanced to set up and require more technical knowledge;

Internet Blackout Toolkit – Mysterium Labs

GitHub – Danoctavian – Awesome Anti-Censorship

GitHub – Kevin Coleman Inc – Awesome Privacy 

GitHub – Lissy93 – Personal Security Checklist

Along with all this knowledge, also be sure to install antivirus software. This guarantees that there is no malicious software on your laptop. Ephraim Muchemi, who conducts training in digital security with the US-based non-profit International Research and Exchange Board, states that antivirus is the key to everything. Some suggested options are MalwareBytes and HitmanPro.

Organisations

There are also many organisations out there fighting for your digital freedom and human rights. You can learn about the work they’re doing, and often collaborate or get involved in advocacy work; 

Access Now is a group that defends citizen’s digital rights across the globe, with an objective to abolish the practice of internet shutdown. They are a great resource for learning about internet shutdowns. 

Article19 – works for a world where all people everywhere can freely express themselves and actively engage in public life without fear of discrimination.

We do this by working on two interlocking freedoms: the Freedom to Speak, and the Freedom to Know

Human Rights Watch – We advocate for laws and policies that promote privacy, digital inclusion, and respect for human rights by social media platforms.

Electronic Frontier Foundation – leading nonprofit defending digital privacy, free speech, and innovation

Internet Society  – a global nonprofit organization empowering people to keep the Internet a force for good: open, globally connected, secure, and trustworthy.

Unblock the future

Recently, students from London’s Imperial College and Royal College of Art have developed a system, called Fallback, which offers access to news coverage through a portable satellite modem during internet shutdown. 

The tool is a subscription-based model that enables users to pre-select the news websites they usually read. During a shutdown, news articles can be encrypted and delivered to them via satellite. 

A portable server helps decrypt the data, and viewers can read on any Wifi-enabled device using a simplified user interface. Fallback works on a forecasting algorithm that can anticipate which nations are most at risk of an internet shutdown. Right now the team are trying to get the system up and running in countries where it’s needed most. 

An internet shutdown can be very daunting. But you rejoin the digital world by using the above tools and platforms. 

If you have a project or application that should be added to this list, please get in touch! We will be constantly updating it. 

Migrate your tokens & earn 10 $MYST

Mysterium Network has been hard at work building a decentralised VPN. To date, we have maintained an incentivised test network of residential IPs for over a year. Our next step, peer to peer payments – which come with Mysterium Mainnet.

Relevant Reads:

  1. Mysterium Token Migration Guide 
  2. The Road to Mainnet: Mysterium Product Roadmap Update 

Mysterium Network began our token migration as part of our wider move to MainNet. To date, we have migrated about 15 million legacy tokens.

As we approach Mainnet, we would like to encourage our core community to migrate legacy MYST tokens. To help this initiative along, we are launching an airdrop between the 18 & 25 November 2020! 

We are launching an airdrop between the 18 & 25 November 2020!

Why an airdrop?

We plan to compensate MYST token holders for the high Ethereum transaction fees they might incur during the token migration process.

To reiterate terms of our token migration: 

  1. This a 1:1 token migrations
  2. No new tokens will be created

Want to get 10 MYST airdropped into your wallet? 

  • Migrate your tokens from your old addresses to a new one from 00:00 between the 18 & 25 November 2020
  • Regardless of the number of tokens that you own, we will compensate you 10  MYST (One user gets 10 MYST). 
  • Multiple applications from one participant, as well as other actions that can be qualified as fraud, will result in disqualification from this airdrop. Simply put, no MYST if you try to game the system. 
  • MYST tokens will be distributed to new token addresses between 26 November and 2 December 2020

As you can clearly see, the nature of the service we are offering and the emerging markets that we are a natural ally to, make Ethereum’s current transaction fees a lock out when onboarding new customers. 

As such, like many other Ethereum-based projects, Mysterium Network has had to reroute our roadmap in search of scalability solutions to give our users the cheapest and fastest service possible, while maintaining decentralized and noncustodial architecture. 

In the following sections, we will review existing Layer 2 solutions in relation to Mysterium Network’s use case, explaining how they offer both opportunities and limitations.

How can I get support migrating my legacy MYST tokens?  

 We have an easy to follow token migration guide to get you started, otherwise jump into our and speak directly with our core community and team.

How can I get support on this airdrop?

If you have any issues with the airdrop after successfully completing all terms of requirements, please, write to us at help@mysterium.network.

Roadmap Update: no more free VPN, nodes get paid in $MYST

mysterium VPN

Has that gotten your attention?

 

Mysterium Network is maturing, alongside our wider ecosystem. With the freedom of speech online being debased, a global pandemic and other macro forces in play  – we see it as a priority to enable peer to peer payments in the most frictionless way possible. 

As we have written previously, transaction fees on Ethereum have proven to be a problem. But we have found the workaround.

To dive deeper, read these blogs:  

1. Layer 1, 2, 3 – and beyond: The search for the cheapest and fastest microtransactions. [2020]

2. Mysterium Network’s Head of Product, Jaro Šatkevič breaks down a lightweight solution for Mysterium Network payments

3. Mysterium Network micropayments whitepaper [2019]

 

Mysterium Network Updated Roadmap Q4 2020

What does this mean?

 

Step one: Network Fork 1

 

All users and node runners within Mysterium Network will have to upgrade into testnet version two (Testnet 2.0).


What is Testnet 2.0?


a) New smart contracts on Goerli testnet – Mysterium Testnet 2.0 will be using new test MYSTT token, same code as new MYST token, with `permit` function and 18 zeros (instead of 8) after the comma. We will also be using a new set of payments smart contracts which will halve settlement of collected funds and add support for being used in multiple chains.

Read more in our deep dive on Layer 2 solutions so as to avoid ETH transaction fees.

b) Payment processor integration into apps  – this will provide the possibility for dVPN consumers to top-up via their Mysterium account with a set of different cryptocurrencies (such as BTC, LTC, ETH, BCH, DAI or USDT). Paid funds will be converted into MYST (or to MYSTT while in testnetv2) token and be sent into the user’s payment channels (top-up address) on the blockchain.

c) 1 MYSTT will be equal to 1 MYST. Also, bounty payouts will be done in MYST tokens. Previously we have pegged 1 collected MYSTT to 1 USD and did node runner bounty payouts in ETH. To take us closer to MainNet environment conditions, the time has come to implement pay-outs in MYST tokens. We will be still using our ETH bounty fund reserves, but we will be buying MYST token on the market to do payouts for node runners.

Users will have to update their applications. You will be given a starter kit of MYSTT. Following this users will need to top up using BTC, LTC, ETH and other cryptocurrencies.

Existing Node Runners will need to upgrade their node into the newest version, network upgrade will be done under the hood. For further updates specific to Node Runners check out our regularly updated network fork guide. 


Please note: 

  • Node runner bounty will be paid only for Mysterium Node Runners running on Testnet 2.0 
  • Node runners will begin to receive payouts in $MYST. 


A month after the transition begins, testnet 1.0 will be completely destroyed. Network fork ends.

Step two: 

 

We will be releasing BetaNet (silent launch for a limited set of test users) and upgrading Testnet 2.0 to use some of Ethereum’s sidechain and cross-chain payments (consumers will be on a sidechain testnet, and node runners will have their accounts on Ethereum Goerli testnet).

This upgrade will happen under the hood and users may even not recognise that such change happened.

This will mean cheaper on-chain transactions for users and node runners as account registration and top-ups will happen on the sidechain instead of Ethereum Blockchain, once on MainNet.

Stay tuned for exciting integration partnerships coming very soon. Subscribe to our newsletter to hear it first. 

As you can clearly see, the nature of the service we are offering and the emerging markets that we are a natural ally to, make Ethereum’s current transaction fees a lock out when onboarding new customers. 

As such, like many other Ethereum-based projects, Mysterium Network has had to reroute our roadmap in search of scalability solutions to give our users the cheapest and fastest service possible, while maintaining decentralized and noncustodial architecture. 

In the following sections, we will review existing Layer 2 solutions in relation to Mysterium Network’s use case, explaining how they offer both opportunities and limitations.

Step three:
Testnet as we know it is going to be destroyed.

Step four:  

 

All users and node runners within Mysterium Network will be upgraded onto Mysterium MainNet in 2021.

 

What is MainNet?


MainNet is Mysterium Network on Ethereum Blockchain. All internal payments will be done using real MYST tokens.

Users will pay as they go for VPN service on Mysterium Network. Mysterium Network will run a few free nodes so that new users can test the service before topping up their account. This is also when we will look to roll out our much-awaited referral program, and other user-focused bounties. 

Node Runners will continue to be paid in MYST. This marks the end of the Mysterium Node Pilot No provider bounty is needed at this point and node runners can settle collected funds any time you like.

What happened to our Mysterium Pro plans?


As we had previously written, we were considering Mysterium Pro as our solution to high Ethereum transaction fees

Thanks, to Multichain support and the ability to use sidechains for consumer payment channels (top-up wallet management), we can avoid releasing a custodial MysteriumPro solution and instead merge its best features (such as pay in different cryptos, or one-click connect) into the default Mysterium VPN application itself. 

Onward to MainNet

 

Mysterium has been hard at work getting peer to peer payments implemented within the network. This has meant the navigation of a quickly shifting technological landscape. We wouldn’t be here without our community of node runners, users and token holders. 

We thank you for your ongoing support and are excited about the new changes to come as Mysterium Network grows to meet the new and very real challenges of our times. 

If you haven’t already, download Mysterium VPN or start to run a node.

Layer 1, 2, 3 and beyond: The search for the cheapest and fastest microtransactions

How many layers does it take to get cheap and fast microtransactions?

Building on top of a quickly iterating Layer-2 scaling ecosystem has meant murky navigation of several new technologies. This is especially difficult for builders looking to find workarounds for high transaction fees on the Ethereum blockchain. 

The recent DeFi boom has led to users cramming into Ethereum Network and creating a large backlog of unprocessed transactions. This has meant network congestion, and high transaction fees – both of which are natural killers for decentralized applications and networks. 

Why are cheap and fast microtransactions important for decentralized networks? 

In Mysterium, a decentralized VPN, payments are peer to peer. Consumers of VPN are directly paying exit node runners for VPN service. As such, there is no middleman with the power to freeze payments. This means that payments happen minute by minute, with transaction values as small as 0.0001 USD (in our native token MYST).

The nature of the peer to peer, and second by second service consumption mean that decentralized VPNs, and other incentivized distributed networks depend on microtransactions as a means of reducing risk within their network economy. Learn more about peer to peer technologies.

Earlier this year, we released our own Layer 2 solution (based on payment channels) on Testnet. This enabled users to transact with one another autonomously, without a need for an intermediary (including us) and without touching Layer 1 (Ethereum blockchain). This introduced super cheap and instant transactions, and allowed paying with values as small as $0.0001.

However, one of the challenges with payment channels, our protocol included, is the need to have specific on-chain transactions. In the case of Mysterium Network this is seen in two events, dVPN account creation and top-up. 

Onward - the search for scalability

User story: As a user in Nigeria, I am looking for a VPN solution that lets me pay for what I consume. I am unable to afford the expensive subscription pricing of traditional VPNs. I try Mysterium VPN, which allows me to stream a video for $0.05 USD in MYST on their freemium version. I run out of free MYST and want to add an additional $1 USD (in MYST). I try to top up. It costs me $2.25 in ethereum tx fees to top up my Mysterium Account. I delete the app.

See our how our userbase is growing in Nigeria.

As you can clearly see, the nature of the service we are offering and the emerging markets that we are a natural ally to, make Ethereum’s current transaction fees a lock out when onboarding new customers. 

As such, like many other Ethereum-based projects, Mysterium Network has had to reroute our roadmap in search of scalability solutions to give our users the cheapest and fastest service possible, while maintaining decentralized and noncustodial architecture. 

In the following sections, we will review existing Layer 2 solutions in relation to Mysterium Network’s use case, explaining how they offer both opportunities and limitations.

Methodology: An Overview of Existing Solutions

Recently at Mysterium we did more research on various Layer 2 solutions and conducted an overview of the most recognised and trustworthy ones in 2020. In this overview, we looked at different sidechains, taking into consideration the differing motivations and user personas of actors within Mysterium Network – [Consumer/ User; Provider/ Mysterium Node Runner]. 

1. Sidechains or alternative blockchains with bridges to Ethereum blockchain

These types of solutions are characterised by xDAI, MaticRSK (RSK is creating bridges into Ethereum, meaning that you can technically move Ethereum based assets onto this Bitcoin sidechain).

The main value proposition of these solutions is they are scalable, capital efficient and offer fast withdrawal into Layer 1. The main drawback is that validators control the network and are able to freeze and confiscate funds with consensus.

This make sidechains unattractive to DeFi (who lock hundreds of millions) offerings, while they remain relevant for a decentralized VPN use case such as Mysterium Network. This is due to the fact that DeFi carries with it different risks when compared to a dVPN.

Matic Network

The following two examples, Plasma and Rollups are different articulations of sidechains, built more specifically for the Ethereum ecosystem.

2. Plasma

Plasma is a framework proposed for scaling Ethereum using hierarchical sidechains. Plasma type sidechains (also referred to as child chains) allow a majority of transactions to occur outside of the Ethereum blockchain. Only deposits and withdrawals, and points of entry and exit are handled on the main blockchain smart contract.

To make sure that transactions are final, Plasma operators run a “state commitment”. This is a cryptographic method for storing a compressed version of the state of sidechain inside the Ethereum blockchain. This storage of a compressed version of the state impacts the user experience of Plasma as it makes it challenging for users to withdraw their tokens. Users are required to be both online frequently and to download data.

While offering significant speed (up to 1000 transactions per second) and latency improvements over Ethereum, Plasma cannot offer the near-zero latency and near-free transaction fees required for a decentralized VPN micropayments solution.

One of the differentiators, and drawbacks of Plasma as a Layer 2 solution is it allows users to leave the network at any time – an action referred to as “exiting”. This means that users can safely withdraw their funds from Plasma even if it is shut down by validators. But this has to be done in a certain period of time and done by everyone. Read more about the mass exit problem in Plasma.

Another drawback, Plasma is not 100% EVM compatible. This would mean any decentralized application building on Ethereum would have to update their smart contracts or it might even not be possible to build on Plasma

Dive deeper into Plasma and its potential applications within distributed networks in Mysterium Network’s Micropayments Whitepaper.

Plasma network

3. Rollups

Rollups are Layer-2 scaling solutions similar in form to Plasma in that a single mainchain contract holds all funds and a cryptographic commitment to larger sidechain state. This state is maintained by users and operators offchain, providing an independence from Layer 1 storage. This is the biggest scalability benefit of Rollups.

 

    1. Optimistic Rollups


      Optimistic Rollups are constructions which enable autonomous smart contracts on Layer 2 using OVM. Borrowing heavily from both Plasma and ZK Rollup designs, Optimistic Rollups trades of some scalability to enable running fully general smart contracts on Layer 2, secured by Layer 1.

      It promises an easy way to migrate existing decentralized solutions and services with a reasonable degree of security/ scalability trade offs. Karl Floresch goes into more detail on Optimistic Rollups and OVM.

    2. ZK Rollups


      ZK Rollups is a Layer 2 solution where data is placed onchain.

      With ZK Rollups operators generate Zero-Knowledge Proof (SNARK) for every state transition, making it impossible for operators to commit an invalid or manipulated state.

      ZK Rollups should theoretically be able to process up to 2,000 transactions per second. 


ZK Rollups solution differs from Plasma as it solves the mass exit problem, meaning that validators are unable to freeze funds and users have no time limit to move funds out of Layer 2 even in case of emergency This makes ZK Rollups a great fit for both DeFi or cold wallets for Hodlrs. 

Its most known application is Loopring, a next-generation high-performance decentralized exchange and payment protocol also focused on scalability.

The challenge with ZK Rollups is the fundamental limitation in transaction amounts [2000 transactions per second], with current real world implementation, Loopring, achieving 500 transactions per second. 

Also, while transaction costs are lower than Ethereum, they cannot in theory be more than 100 times cheaper than Ethereum’s transaction costs. Most like 20 – 50 times cheaper according to our math.

Also, ZK Rollups are the more sophisticated and long term answer. Which as always, will take a longer time to implement. 

zKRollup

4. Payment channels

We have written extensively about payment channels both within our micropayments whitepaper released in 2019, and in several of our more recent updates:

    1. Introducing micropayments on Mysterium Network
    2. MYST, Migration and Mainnet
    3. Mysterium Network begins token migration

TL;DR

Payment channels fuse together the technologies and methodologies used by other payment solutions such as State Channels.

With payment channels parties exchange digital value without committing transactions to the blockchain. Only channel opening and closing are logged on the blockchain.

To open payment channels both parties have to lock some funds into a multisig smart contract. This allows both parties to update channel balances without the fear that funds will be double spent or stolen.

As these microtransactions are “commitments” rather than on-chain payments, we drastically reduce the total amount of transactions sent to the blockchain.

We dive deeper into what payment channels are, and how we envision them functioning in our micropayments whitepaper. Read more.

How are payment channels different from Plasma, ZK Rollups and Sidechains?

Layer 2 solution

From a technical perspective, Plasma and zkRollups – all fall into a wider umbrella of sidechains. Sidechains are fundamentally different in nature from payment channels. We highly recommend “Evaluating Ethereum Layer 2 Scaling Solutions: A Comparison Framework” for a deeper dive into the distinct differences between sidechains.

In our comparison of Layer-2 solutions, we saw that while Rollups are great in terms of security and give significant scalability over Layer 1, they do not completely solve for the challenge of micropayments needed for Mysterium Network. They have a limit of 2K tx/sec, and they don’t give users instant finality. Also the transaction price is still too expensive for $0.001 transactions.

In the following section we will explain how payment channels, and more specifically unidirectional payment channels are the best fit for the peer to peer decentralized virtual private network use case in Mysterium Network.

Payment channels are different as they are:

  • Flexible – i.e. able to live on layer 3, or 2 
  • Cheapest solution when it comes to transaction fees.
  • Most scalable in terms of peer to peer payments.
  • Could be used for cross-chain payments (e.g. from one side-chain to another, or from Layer 1 to Layer 2).

Sidechains (broadly speaking to include Plasma and ZK Rollups) bring with them limitations on transaction amounts. Payment channels on the other hand, could be foundational to cross-chain interoperability as they allow payments to move from one chain to another without custody – with zero costs, and in seconds. Don’t take my word for it, hear it from Vitalik himself.

Unidirectional vs Bi-directional payment channels

Why unidirectional payment channels?

In the case of Mysterium Network, most network actors are either consumers or providers (nodes) of VPN service. Payments are always going in one direction. There is only a need for providers (Mysterium Nodes) to rebalance the payment channel and settle earned tokens on Layer 1. 

Bi-directional payment channels are more complex and do not give Mysterium Network’s use case much value. Also, thanks to unidirectional payment channels our consumers don’t need to have apps online all the time to ensure that their funds will not be stolen. 

 

Payment Channels as Layer 3, on top of Layer 2 

As we continued to take apart different Layer 2 solutions, we came to the same conclusion. Payment channels – as described in our micropayments whitepaper – should be on Layer 3. 

  • Consumers of VPN service need at least one onchain transaction to top up their funds. With payment channels on Layer 3, we can capitalise on cheaper channel openings (account creation) and top-ups on Layer 2. So adding $1 to your dVPN app account will cost users 2 cents, not 2 dollars. This would greatly reduce friction in onboarding new users.
  • Providers of VPN service need at least one onchain transaction once in a week or so to receive their funds. In payment channels, once the value of the offchain commitment is bigger than the channel size, a settlement onchain is required. By offering flexibility we can let providers choose whether they choose to settle on Layer 2, or Layer 1.

    Why is this important? Some providers may send their funds to DeFis or exchanges often, this will mean moving from Layer 2 to Layer 1 regularly. As such being on Layer 1 makes more sense for providers with this particular profile. 

In a world of zkrollups, payment channels can be used as bridges within networks. – Vitalik Buterin

In conclusion: Multichain, cross-chain and the future of interoperability

We did all that research to find a solution for our own problem. We believe that we found it! 

Just to recap:

  • Ethereum transaction fees are killers for decentralized applications and services which depend on cheap onchain transactions
  • ZK Rollups seem to be a promising Layer 2 solution, but unfortunately, it is new and smart contract support is only on testnet. We will need to wait for at least half a year or longer. 
  • There are good sidechains such as xDAI and Matic network, but no one knows which will gain mass adoption or how they will evolve. Being tightly connected to one blockchain is a risk to Mysterium Network, or any decentralized service. It may mean a hard and complex migration in the future. 
  • Payment channels are able to be used in cross-chain transactions – this means that consumers of VPN services can hold their wallets on Layer 2, while a provider is on a different Layer 2 or even on a Layer 1 blockchain. 

Mysterium Network will be deployed on multiple chains and we already are working on cross-chain payments support. We see this as the future for most payment channel-based solutions. 

Exciting updates to our roadmap and partnership announcements coming soon. If you haven’t already – Get Mysterium VPN: Free on Testnet.

Mysterium Network Product Updates – October 2020

Mysterium Network is building a decentralised VPN. Our global network is open, permissionless and distributed. Last year we focused on finetuning our node software, and understanding dynamics in incentivised networks. This year, we’re balancing out the marketplace with focus on consumer applications. If you haven’t already, please make sure to download Mysterium VPN for Windows, Mac and Android. Let us know what you think on النقاش or تويتر.

The past few months at Mysterium has seen us reroute our roadmap as we head towards mainnet launch. As with all new technologies built from scratch, we’ve encountered some unexpected challenges, which are shared with the entire industry! Building on top of a quickly evolving Ethereum ecosystem has been especially difficult for teams like us, who need workarounds for high transaction fees and network congestion. 

Aside from this renavigation, there have been some exciting developments and initiatives. Check out our latest product updates;

 

Networking research spikes: China and Iran

Our networking team is hard at work finding better ways to make us censorship-resistant. This includes overcoming the ban of our node discovery in certain parts of the world. The plan is to make our node discovery distributed, and as such, harder to block by firewalls. Increasing and securing this undetectability is an important step if we’re to reach vulnerable communities who need internet freedom the most.

 

Payments research spike

Our payments team dove deep into the various L2 scaling solutions in the market. Many of these solutions have emerged due to consistently high GAS prices on Ethereum mainnet. The goal was to evaluate both opportunities and possible limitations for Mysterium Network. We will be publishing a revised product roadmap in November. Our technical deep dive is also coming shortly.

 

Implementation of Coingate

We have made major headway into a Coingate integration. This will enable top-ups in your Mysterium account with various different cryptocurrencies (BTC, LTC, ETH, etc). Under the hood, the app will convert these cryptocurrencies into MYST and top up your Mysterium account (payment channel) with those MYST tokens. This is an important step towards lowering the barrier to entry, enabling a wider spread of adoption and more seamless access into Mysterium Network and its VPN services. This will be deployed and tested on Mysterium testnet in November.

 

Automated identity manager (Pilvytis)

Pilvytis “watches” the payment channels of given users and automatically tops them up when needed. This is important for potential B2B clients who have expressed demand for paying for VPN services in fiat. This is so that they can access Mysterium via network as a service (NaaS), guaranteeing that their consumer applications are never out of balance.

 

New WebUI

This effectively changes the node on-boarding process. Stay tuned for some changes in live environments (my.mysterium.network, node onboarding).

 

Top up flow for Android, Windows and Mac applications

In preparation for BetaNet launch and paid testnet, we have added new top up flows to our Android and desktop applications. Previously users were getting accounts for free, but in BetaNet (and mainnet in the future) they will have to top up their Mysterium account first. More detail on this in our roadmap updates in November.

 

Added referral program support

Users will be able to share referral links and receive rewards. These referral codes will give free account creation and some initial MYST to test the system. We want to reward our community and leverage their support to reach more people who need our dVPN.

 

Updated documentation for node runners (new docs coming soon)

This has been an ongoing project to clean up our documentation. We have started with node runners but this is a wider project to add more detail and clarity to our developer documentation in the future. #OpenSource

 

Want to get involved in Mysterium Network today?

Mysterium Network is a decentralized VPN, with a growing global residential IP node network. There are versions for  ذكري المظهرMac and Windows, currently free before our full launch.

Stay tuned for more updates. If you are interested in participating, running a node, or generally have any questions, jump into our discord channel and speak directly with our core team.

 

 

Introducing the dVPN Alliance

An alliance to make every netizen untraceable, unblockable and unhackable

After months of planning and collaborating with Sentinel, we’re excited to reveal the decentralized VPN (dVPN) alliance to the world. The new alliance is open to all Web 3 projects who want to build a better internet and create a unified standard around how censorship-resistant, privacy-focused platforms and tools are built.

Both Mysterium and Sentinel developed some of the first decentralized VPNs in the world. This initiative is more than a passion project – it’s time to step up the game. The alliance continues our commitment to protecting all online users from personal data hacks, cybercrime and surveillance. 

The internet continues to crumble in the hands of governments and corporations, as the first quarter of 2020 became the worst in data breach history with over 8 billion records exposed. Targets include high profile organisations and companies such as the United Nations, Twitter and Easyjet. Just this week, over 400,000 users of food delivery app Chowbus had their personal data leaked.

The news of our launch was syndicated in various global news publications, including Yahoo News, Yahoo Finance, Business Insider, Digital Journal, Crowdfund Insider, Blockonomi and Daily Hodl.

Marcel Velliux, a member of the SNT Foundation, a core supporter of the Sentinel network, spoke about the need for a decentralized alternative to regular VPNs. These common and popular VPNs hide the risks and flaws of their technology, such as logging and centralized storage of user data.

“There are very few enforced standards when it comes to building the platforms and tools which make up the internet today, said Velliux.

“This means that businesses, including VPNs, are free to track their users and store their data insecurely. While new legislation such as GDPR is a step in the right direction, it does nothing on the infrastructural level, which is why data hacks occur on a weekly basis.” 

dVPN alliance

This new digital collective hopes to bring more projects to the table to help shape policy and public understanding of how decentralized internet technologies make a significant social impact. The alliance has already produced an in-depth guide on dVPN exit nodes, to inform and protect users who run them. 

Our own product owner Jaro Šatkevič had this to say about the alliance;

“Fixing our broken internet is a mammoth challenge to take on. If we’re to undo decades of centralization and corporatisation, we need typically competing projects to work together. Just like decentralized, peer to peer technologies depend on people coming together for a common purpose, our cause unites teams who are dedicated to making the internet a more accessible and safe public space for every netizen.”

The alliance is founded upon a dedication to the following principles in Web 3 development; open source, permissionless, distributed logs, peer to peer and privacy. A collaboration on multi-network relays and multi-hop solutions is currently in development.

Explore the alliance here, and read the manifesto.

High Ethereum transaction fees, and what that means for Mysterium Network

Ethereum transaction fees spike, affecting dapp user onboarding

As we all know the market is changing. The DeFi bubble has led to insane Ethereum transaction fees

But it isn’t just decentralized exchanges that are being hit by this spike in GAS prices. Decentralised applications building within the Ethereum ecosystem is having to go back to the drawing board.

As you can see in the chart above, you can see that this a problem that is here to stay. 

Take for example the impact of a $3 transaction fee with a median expected top-up value between $3 – $10. Using a dex would incur an even higher transaction fee. So in some cases transaction fee can be as big as topup value, such situation is a point of friction in our user onboarding process. 

In the long term, there will be widespread and commonly accepted layer two solutions for the decentralised community that will solve for these spikes in the transaction fees on Ethereum. This could be ETH 2.0 or a widely adopted second layer solution based on payment channels. 

But this isn’t the current case. As a team committed to user onboarding, we put serious time and thinking into how we can alleviate this friction point for users within Mysterium Network.

What about other blockchains?

We have taken time to consider other blockchains and analyse if this is a solution to the transaction fee problem. There are several EVM compatible solutions such as RSK, Tron, TomoChain, just to name a few.

In case you were wondering…

There are endless solutions which are just as promising when it comes to cheap and fast transactions, for example, EOS, Liquid, Stellar, Nano, Holo, and the list goes on…


Here are some of our reasons for our continued commitment to the Ethereum blockchain: 

  • The Ethereum ecosystem holds a large community of users who know how to use Ethereum wallets
  • Integrations with DEXes such as Uniswap, which will allow for ETH, DAI and other ERC 20 token holder communities to easily pay for VPN services within Mysterium Network
  • Proven security model 

Big and growing developer community. As builders, we want to be amongst our own. 

But does this mean we have to live with the high transaction fees? Not necessarily - Introducing “Mysterium Pro”

How does Mysterium Pro solve the transaction fee problem?

The only place where these high transaction fees touch Mysterium Network’s service offering is in the top-up function. All other transactions are happening in our own, scalable micropayment channels based L2 solution. Find out more here:

  1. Introducing payments on Mysterium Network
  2. A deep dive into payments on Mysterium Network

This is the moment where end-users top-up their payment channel so they can begin to pay for VPN services within the network. 

With Mysterium Pro, users can circumvent high transaction fees by choosing to top-up their payment channels with BTC, BCH and other low transaction fee tokens. 

Mysterium Pro will also include a solution which batches end-users tokens before converting them to MYST, therefore spreading the cost of transaction fees over users. This allow means mucheven cheaper top-ups for Mysterium Pro users.

Mysterium Pro launches after our mainnet release. See our latest update on MYST token migration.

Want to get involved in Mysterium Network today?

We’re building towards Ethereum mainnet. This is when peer to peer payments within Mysterium Network become a reality. As part of this, we are recruiting testers for our beta net, a place where we will work with our community to battle test our code.

Here’s a snapshot of our progressive migration onto Ethereum mainnet: 

If you’re interested in getting involved, sign up here!

Want to get involved in Mysterium Network today?

Mysterium Network is a decentralized VPN, with a growing global residential IP node network. Download our apps to browse the internet freely.

What is the Web 3.0?

Will all technology eventually become obsolete, replaced or abandoned? Or are some things so deeply rooted in our world that they can only evolve, just as we do? 

It’s hard to imagine the internet as a technology of the industrial revolution. This giant and permanently entangled web of wires, routers, servers, towers, and electric currents passes information at a speed somewhere between that of sound and light.

This internet infrastructure exists everywhere, a cloud that lets us carry “the web” in our pockets and power our homes with smart devices. It’s no longer one technology, but an undefinable mesh of countless technologies, protocols, software and hardware, interoperating and speaking to each other.

We are all now connected by the Internet, like a neurons in a giant brain.

stephen hawking
Hundreds of thousands of kilometers of submarine cables connect us, but will these age well? 

And yet the internet we know today - referred to as the Web 2.0 - is falling apart.

Over-centralization has become a threat to its accessibility and democracy. Officially governed by “no one”, the internetit has flourished into a commercial machine which serves a handful of powerful and self-interested businesses. Corrupt governments can cut off their citizens from the internet altogether. And if your personal data hasn’t been hacked yet, it’s only a matter of time

But rebuilding the internet itself seems an impossible task. Instead, we can decentralise it.

New technology can help change how we build business, how we design our governance systems, and how we operate global organisations.

Juan Benet

The decentralisation of the web is a global movement, led by many different groups all working towards the same objective; to ensure equal, free and uncensored access to the web for all. We do this by taking the same physical pieces that make up the internet today, and repurpose them so they protect and serve users.

Before, we were merely plugged into the internet. Now we can become the internet itself.

Important sidenote – the internet and the web are two different things; when we refer to the internet, we mean the physical infrastructure – the wiring and protocols governing how computers communicate with each other. The “web” is made up of websites, web applications, web browsing. It’s a platform which hosts documents and applications, with clickable hyperlinks.

Weaving the World Wide Web

Before we dive into Web 3.0 and its mechanics, let’s take a brief look at the history of the internet.

In its early stages, the internet was made up of a distributed network of computers. Its original architects, including founding father Tim Berners-Lee, envisioned it as inclusive and open. To access and be part of this network meant to contribute directly to its growth and development, with everyone sharing responsibility equally. Each user could communicate with each other directly, without the need for third parties or businesses, such as ISPs today. 

Towards the end 1990, the first web page became available on the open internet. 

In 1991, this Web 1.0 was launched as a public domain, a digital and shared space like a public library or park. Users anywhere were invited to join this new online community.

In the mind of Berners-Lee, the internet was designed to be “a collaborative medium, a place where we [could] all meet and read and write.” But as more people connected and the network grew in size, Berners-Lee understood that to unlock the power of the internet, it had to be “permissionless”, meaning no one had to seek permission to join. 

Had the technology been proprietary, and in my total control, it would probably not have taken off. You can’t propose that something be a universal space and at the same time keep control of it.

Tim Berners-Lee

However, the web at this time was mostly static, offering read-only content. There were very few content creators, with most users of the internet “acting as consumers”. The internet was soon taken over by the first internet businesses like AOL and Yahoo, who became the gateways to the web.

In 1994, Netscape launched the first commercial-grade web browser, and the dot-com explosion began. 

Web 2.0 - Users at the bottom of the internet foodchain

In the early 2000s, the internet became more interactive. The evolution of the read-only Web 1.0 to the read-write Web 2.0 brought us the “web as a platform”. Users could easily start creating and publishing content themselves, even learning HTML (HyperText Markup Language, the markup language for the web) to build their own websites. 

As an interactive and dynamic system where anyone could participate, this read-write web is what catalysed the birth of many new systems and applications which today have become some of the biggest businesses in the world. Participatory social networks like Facebook and Myspace, online marketplaces like Amazon, AirBnB and Uber, content creation and entertainment – all these plug into Web 2.0, creating new economies and standards for socialising, communication and business. Social media in particular has reinvented the way we shop and consume news.

Unfortunately, the business models propping up the internet today are as exploitative as they are successful. It exists to serve those “who have something to sell”, who even in the 90’s were predicted to become the main beneficiaries of the web. Companies rely on user-generated content to keep their platforms running, yet our personal data is harvested and sold to companies we’ve never even heard of. 

And if it’s not monetized, our personal information is routinely hacked due to the insecure centralized systems that have led to countless data breaches in the past year alone, exposing millions of records. These centralized databases are gold mines, making us targets for cybercriminals who can steal our personal information, banking details or simply sell our identities on the dark web.

So despite the internet being hailed as the greatest technological advancement of all time, it turns out corporations have really made a mess of things (but earned billions in the process). We desperately need to protect users and preserve the future of the internet itself, before it’s too late to turn things around. 

There are many teams working to restore the internet to its former glory. The resurgence of decentralized, P2P technology has meant we can rewire the internet so that it becomes private, safe and accessible by default. It will protect and compensate users, instead of milking them for data and profit. 

A slight digression… what is the “other” Web 3, the “semantic web” ?

It was once thought that the evolution of the Web 2.0 into Web 3.0 would bring us the “semantic web”. 

The semantic web was to improve web technologies so they can “understand the meaning of words, rather than on keywords or numbers… In this version of the Web 3.0, computers can understand information like humans in order to provide faster and more relevant results. They become more intelligent to satisfy the needs of user.”

Tim Berners-Lee described this web as a “Global Brain” which could process content in a human-like way, interpreting the nuances of concepts and information. Though billions of dollars were invested to develop the semantic web, it has not been brought to life (at least for now).

The decentralized web - a digital rebellion

The best way to think of the Web is as a direct-to-customer distribution channel, whether it's for information or commerce. It bypasses all middlemen. And, it turns out, there are a lot of middlepersons in this society. And they generally tend to slow things down, muck things up, and make things more expensive. The elimination of them is going to be profound.

Steve Jobsin a 1996 interview with Wired, about the impact and future of the Web

The “new” Web 3.0 is often referred to as the decentralised web, as this is the main underlying technological and theoretical standard which powers it. As we shift into a new internet era, this adaptation of the Web 3.0 actually draws it closer to its original roots. 

One of the biggest problems with the internet today is that it is heavily centralized, with a small collection of companies storing and powering the web via privately owned servers. Remember Web 1.0? That was a decentralized system, with a network of computers (and their users) storing that same data. There was no long line of middlemen, queuing up to connect us and take their cut. With that version of the web, no one had to pay a company or service to join, there were no centralized nodes, servers or governance systems, no single point of failure, and no “kill switch”. These are all qualities and components that the decentralized web hopes to restore.

But how does the decentralized web “work”?

The Web 3.0… an inclusive set of protocols to provide building blocks for application makers. Present a whole new way of creating applications. These technologies give users strong and verifiable guarantees about information they are receiving, what information they are giving away, what they are paying and what they are receiving in return.

@GAVofyork

With the introduction of new technologies like blockchain and distributed ledger technology, we can decentralize many different systems that were once dependent on centralized methods. (This can also be applied to systems beyond internet protocols, such as law and economics, but that’s a story for another time.)

Blockchain technology has democratic and self-governing architecture. Take the Bitcoin blockchain, for example; as a peer-to-peer system, it is run by its own users, who are rewarded when they help keep it running. Due to its heavy encryption and clever mechanics, it is practically incorruptible. And the best part is, a blockchain is available for anyone to verify and anyone to join. 

Learning all the lessons of what Bitcoin did to money, we’re starting to do this to all other kinds of services. Torrents and other file sharing sites kickstarted the P2P revolution. Bitcoin entered the scene providing the final piece that was missing all those years ago – incentivisation. Blockchain’s economic model has changed the game, and makes it far more scalable.

And with the advent of smart contract technology, we can ensure the benefits of decentralized protocols are easily passed onto the user. (Smart contracts are pieces of code that can automate and self-execute tasks based on an agreement. And since the smart contract acts as the “middle-man”, it doesn’t need to be paid). 

Now we take these unique protocols and plug them into the web itself. Instead of centralised servers, we can create peer to peer systems which allow people, not business, to securely share and store data online. Your computer becomes a node, acting as a miniature server (node). As a node, you help power the entire network by directly sharing your excess resources, such as bandwidth or processing power. And as a decentralized system, it runs without any kind of official host or authority at all, making it stronger from a security and network health standpoint, with no single point of failure. The bigger this distributed network grows, the faster it becomes.

Learn more about P2P networks

Much, much bigger than the cloud.

You can imagine the decentralized web as a new layer, one which still utilises all the existing infrastructure of the internet today, but “rewires” it on a technical level and reimagines it on a social one. This new layer relies on people, not business, to keep it powered, open and free. In this way, the Web 3 alters the very way we access the internet, retrieve information and operate online. One of the best promises of this tech is its ability to return sovereignty over data ownership. Now we can truly own, protect and profit from our own data. 

And perhaps the most important and new property introduced by the decentralized web is verifiability. It enables any user to verify and confirm the claims of the services they are using. 

We can now check that services are being delivered in the way they’re promised, and that our data is being handled securely.

Pieces of the decentralization puzzle. 

Some Web 3.0 companies.

Much of the decentralized community is already committed to open-sourcing their code, but with Web 3 platforms and apps, this transparency is often built into the technology itself. Verifiability is embedded in the infrastructure. Users no longer have to trust the teams and spokespeople behind the platforms, as the technology itself is trustless by design. This is a far cry from the current state of Web 2.0, where online businesses hide behind terms of service and codes of ethics, and we just have to take their word for it.

P2P privacy

The Web 3.0 enables anyone to build all kinds of autonomous applications and networks. The practical use cases of blockchain and DLT have made their impact on industries from health, law, finance, energy, the sharing economy. 

Mysterium Network is one such network that is helping to weave together this second layer of the internet. As a permissionless, decentralized network with a focus on censorship-resistant web applications, it helps us reformat the web, allowing people like you and me to own and manage the internet. The first app to be utilise the network is a world-first decentralized VPN (dVPN). 

As with other decentralized apps and platforms which make up the Web 3.0, a dVPN service is powered entirely by other web users like you. Each person rents out their IP address and bandwidth to others in this P2P network, earning crypto in exchange. Due to its distributed infrastructure, none of your data can be physically stored anywhere, and all traffic being routed through these personal nodes is heavily encrypted.

You can use this Web 3.0 app to bypass unethical censorship and surveillance. Governments everywhere regularly attempt to prevent the use of encryption tools and anonymity in any form. With over a quarter (27%) of the world’s internet users living in places where they can be arrested for posting, sharing or even “liking” something on Facebook, it’s time to fight back. The Web 3.0 can protect its users, keeping them anonymous while they browse the web openly and safely. 

We don’t have to keep making new privacy tools that can be blocked – we change the very nature of being online in the first place. We’re building safer roads, not inventing safer cars. 

It’s invisible and undeletable internet infrastructure. 

The decentralized web is an equitable and open space where everyone can contribute, build and reap the rewards for themselves. 

You can join it for yourself, just by downloading this app we made just for you 🙂 It’s free to use for only a short while longer.

Learn about the upcoming launch of Mysterium Network on mainnet.