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Robert

Introducing payments on Mysterium Network

We are excited to announce we’re drawing closer to launching payments on Mysterium Network. 

Payments are a crucial element of Mysterium Network. As such, we needed to design a solution which was capable of meeting real world requirements of scalability and affordability. This system also had to comply with the ethos of decentralised ecosystems. These are two opposing forces, with no solution fit for Mysterium Network readily available in the market.

There was no easy way around it for us. But we believe we found a solution that fits these requirements.

This is more than just an exciting milestone for Mysterium Network We have worked extensively towards this moment for the better part of the year and are almost ready to deploy it. 

Core challenges in designing payments for Mysterium Network:

Payments in Mysterium Network need to be lightweight and fast while honouring the core fundamentals of blockchain-systems: transparency, fairness, openness, protection from double-spending and fraud. It has to do all of this without relying on any centralised entity – making it trustless.

This trustless element has been the hardest goal to achieve by far, yet the most crucial.

Once deployed, payments will ensure that users can transact with one another autonomously, without a need for an intermediary (including us). If our attempt is successful – users won’t have to trust each other either. Instead they will trust in the network’s built-in economic game which is designed to incentivise everyone to cooperate. (Learn more about the distributed trustless ethos here)

Very soon we will start to introduce various components of Mysterium payments onto the testnet, so you can experiment and become familiar with how it’s all going to work (more on this later in this blogpost). Eventually the goal is to launch on the Mainnet with MYST tokens.

We work relentlessly towards such high standards because we believe it will help achieve our mission – to provide a secure and open internet for all. We understand the potential power of decentralized technologies to bring value and opportunity to people everywhere, but making them actually usable in real-world conditions is a challenge not solved by many so far. 

Our quest to find the best P2P payment system

The architecture of our payments system is a fusion of research and experimentation with existing Layer 2 solutions. This eventually led to us building a home grown one, based on all our findings.

It first began as a research and development project as we strived to find the best design for fast, secure and trustless P2P payments. While blockchain payments are (generally) secure, censorship resistant, and have an open and permissionless APIs, they’re still relatively expensive and slow. And that just didn’t work in our case. 

This lack of scalability – a network’s ability to grow and handle a growing number of users – means at a certain size the network will get clogged up by all the transactions being processed. Due to this, an Ethereum transaction could cost up to one dollar and take a couple of hours to be ‘settled’ in a block. These transactions get even more expensive when the network’s processing capacity becomes saturated. These limitations are unsuitable for the VPN service provided by Mysterium Network, which require fast, frequent and very small transactions – known as micropayments – executed on a global scale. 

We analysed various Layer 2 solutions – independent networks or chains running ‘on top’ of the original blockchain to avoid it becoming too crowded. But none of these fit our particular use case. They were either still in their very early stage of development, too insecure or overly complex, or built for general use cases, making them non-optimal for Mysterium Network’s use case. These barriers led us to start working on a completely new payment system from scratch. 

Developing a unique P2P payment system is not an easy task. Our goal was to create infrastructure which best serves the needs of both consumers of Mysterium Network, and nodes in the network. 

Here are the main requirements of our proposed system:

  1. High throughput – the network’s ability to handle frequent and small payments (eventually thousands per second)
  2. Support for our native utility token, MYST
  3. Anonymity while also being secure, such as through the use of identity registration and reputation system
  4. Great user experience, removing as much complexity as possible for the end user. 

Going back to the trust conundrum, we also had to consider that consumers won’t pay a large amount up-front and the service providers (nodes) are unlikely to offer their services without prepayment.

This is why we use a micropayment system, which lets nodes offer their service in short intervals, such as 20 seconds or 5 minutes. This pay-as-you-go model means that participants can start transacting straight away. A user can pay for a VPN service a couple of times per minute, sending (and therefore risking) only tiny amounts of tokens in exchange for the bandwidth they are renting.

The “Mysterium Accountant” concept and an introduction to payment promises (digital IOUs)

Our proposed solution fuses together the technologies and methodologies used by other payment solutions, such as State Channels. However, we are introducing a new party to the network called “Mysterium Accountant”. The Accountant will verify ‘payment promises’ made by consumers to nodes. 

Instead of users constantly paying nodes in high volumes, consumers can make ‘promises’ to providers, similar to IOUs. These promises are “verified” by Accountant. The Accountant has a record of each consumer’s actual balance and funds, as well as a record of all of the promises made. When node runners decide they want to settle the account, the final tallied record is executed on the blockchain and sent as a single transaction. 

Mysterium Accountant plays a similar role to a ‘hub’ between consumers and nodes. In saying that, it cannot use or freeze user funds. It’s only function is to verify the payment promises. This introduction of the “Mysterium Accountant” also takes our network one step closer towards becoming a trustless service. 

As these micropayments are ‘promises’, rather than on-chain payments, we reduce the amount of transactions sent to the blockchain. This allows the network to handle much larger volumes of users and transactions, making our network faster and more scalable. This is our lightweight solution for micropayments. With it, we aim to provide hundreds of thousands of transactions per second! 

To make sure we still honour decentralization, we designed the system in a way so there can be multiple Accountants existing in the network at the same time. It’s a very broad concept to explain within one post, so more will follow with much deeper explanations.

You can also dive deeper into specific concepts in our micropayments whitepaper.

What happens next?

We’re currently working to implement this payment solution on our tesnet. You will gradually see payment options in our various interfaces and applications. At first, as we migrate to this new payment model, nodes and users won’t have to do anything. Eventually you might see various engagement elements, such as a ‘top up’ button in a Mysterium app, new functionality in SDKs and so on.

Upon launch, we will assign newly minted tokens to each user on the testnet so heyou can experiment and play with this system. As with all new technologies, there will be an ongoing process of revising and iterating. We hope to learn a great deal about possible use cases, edge cases, abuse angles and on and on. We welcome your play and feedback, as it will be vital for us in getting ready to release usable and secure payments on the mainnet with actual tokens.

With the introduction of payments on mainnet we aim to create an incentive for both consumers and nodes to meet on the Network on fair terms. 

Eventually Node runners will begin to receive tokens as they rent their bandwidth, applying pay-per-use model, moving away from monthly bounties. Future payment and charging models may be adapted as our network starts to operate in real-world market conditions. Nodes will be able to withdraw funds to their personal wallets.

As the whole network will be open in nature, it will open up the possibility for anyone to create better user-oriented apps, incorporate privacy into all sorts of services, create a better user experience for withdrawing earnings, add more use-cases for nodes, and more.

A big thank you to our current node runners, who are the backbone of our network and are helping us to build the foundations for an open and uncensored internet. 

If you’re not yet part of our network, learn more about becoming a node runner, or download our software here.

Mysterium Network – Q3 Roundup & Plan for Q4

Before we give you the latest update, we’d like to take a quick moment to thank our growing community of nodes for their ongoing support and contributions. Your time and effort is endlessly appreciated as you help us launch the next generation of the internet!

The larger our network grows, and the more we spec our requirements from B2B partners, the more we understand just how vital a highly reliable, stable network of residential IPs is to Web 3 infrastructure. 

The past few months here at Mysterium have been an ongoing process of testing, learning and implementation. 

In the last quarter, we:

  1. Grew our network to 176 active nodes
  2. Onboarded 75 node runners to the bounty pilot, who earned an average of 28 each
  3. Began integrating with 3 businesses, who will start sending test traffic through these nodes

At the end of Q3, the entire Mysterium team came together (including our remote team mates) for quarterly think-tank workshops. Our goal was to reflect, collaborate and outline new objectives for Q4 that aligns with our long term vision and elevates our business sustainably. 

Following these workshops, the team reached consensus by voting for their favourite ideas. 

This quarter, our goals are to:

Launch payments on testnet.

We have been actively researching and developing our own unique P2P payments solution to be integrated with the network. This Layer 2 solution will accommodate frequent micropayments by utilising state channels and function similarly to the Lightning Network (but with a more user-friendly approach).

We hope this P2P system will also realise the utility of  the MYST token and this milestone takes us one step closer to this. 

Triple our node base. 

As the heart of our network, our core focal point has been to grow our node network. Our node pilot is essentially a Research & Development initiative, allowing us to test Raspberry Pi nodes in a home environment and measure the strength, quality and speed of the resulting network. 

At the moment, the only traffic which nodes receive in our whitelisted mode is local streaming content coming directly from the Mysterium team.

We are strongly focusing on the UK market, with local boots on the ground to help build up our base there. It is our goal to have at least 200 stable UK nodes up and running by the end of Q4. If you’re located in GB and want a discounted Raspberry Pi, please reach out to savannah@mysterium.network

To maximise our node efforts, we will also:

 

Launch the my.mysterium.network (MMN) platform; we want to improve node engagement and retention, creating a seamless user experience. We will soon launch my.mysterium.network to automate onboarding and provide direct channels for feedback.

Self-help support functions and reporting processes mean we are always listening to our node runners and refining product to make it as strong as possible. The MMN dashboard will also track your nodes earnings, bounty payouts and referrals.

Ramp up our referral program; we are seeking out more ambassadors to help us onboard nodes, including influencers who can educate and inspire their communities to help us build the Web 3.

Turbocharge the team 

As our network grows, we require more special talent:

– Developers – we’re always on the lookout for Golang developers. If you’re into network security, blockchain, and privacy – you’ll be a fit. Find out how you can shape the internet of the future. 

– 1 UK-based cryptocurrency and network security legal specialist – to help us navigate all the compliance and legal requirements or issues we may encounter as a blockchain project. 

– 1 node support specialist – to be the first point of contact and ongoing support system for our fast-growing node community. 

– 1 business development representative – to help us find new B2B partners and create new revenue streams for Mysterium.

Why join Mysterium and decentralise the internet? 

We believe that an internet powered by people is the next stage of its technological and social evolution. That’s why we are building open source, decentralised applications and tools which will empower a global community to self-govern and sustain the web.

Decentralisation is still a work in progress, and producing a truly P2P network is our long term goal. We know that a strong node network can solve the failings of our centralised internet, but first we need a team with strong-will to help us create that network. That’s why we’re looking for more brilliant minds to make this a reality. 

Join our team to help us rewire the internet, safeguarding freedom of speech and anonymous expression online.

Test B2B models

As we increase the supply in our bandwidth marketplace, we are also balancing demand through self sustaining models for our SuperProxy. This quarter, our goal is to have three businesses send their test traffic through our nodes. 

From this we will understand both the detailed technical requirements of our network and profitability of the different use cases we are considering.

Now over to you - take a more active role in Mysterium Network!

Our commitment to our community is to grow Mysterium Network responsibly, ensuring its positive effect on Web 3 as it evolves. We value your support and understanding as we expand the number of people working to take Mysterium Network to the next level. 

 

If you’d like to join us in creating the next iteration of the WWW – get in touch with orinta@mysterium.network. 

Q3 Updates + Mysterium Network AMA

Product updates - MYSTberry, now available on Raspberry Pi

  • We have plugged in new ways to scale our network and onboard stable nodes. Raspberry Pis can be preloaded with our node software and are fast becoming an important part of our node network infrastructure. They are incredibly stable, fast and most importantly they’re simple to use. Once set up and plugged in, there is no proactive maintenance or monitoring. 
  • Our referral program was also launched, incentivising our node community to spread the word and earn ETH for helping us get this grassroots movement off the ground. Want to earn while launching? Get in touch with sharmini@mysterium.network
  • Our UI has been updated so that nodes can check their up-to-date stats, such as connections, transfer rate and history. This will help Mysterium Node runners optimise towards higher earnings within the network.

Payments

  • We have been deep in our research and development processes, creating the technological framework for our payments system and ensuring our methodology is sound. We have a white paper comparing our approach to other existing level 2 scaling solutions in the Ethereum ecosystem coming out soon. Sign up for our newsletter to see it first.
  • On top of this, we have started developing the payment systems UI. This means that you are now able to gain greater insight into your earnings as a node runner.
  • MYST faucet button on UI/providers
  • ETH-MYST DEX implemented
  • Payments on Mainnet – we understand that this is something largely anticipated by the community and are working hard to reach this milestone. While this is part of our roadmap for Q3, our main priority is onboarding stable nodes into the network to ensure a quality service for our users and upcoming B2B partners.
  • We are also reintroducing the MYST utility token to exchanges in order to provide liquidity for our users. 

Node Engagements

1.  We have established our range of email flows, including:

Basic onboarding & KYC payouts
Bounty and referral performance 
Advanced payouts

2. A monitoring tool and dashboard for nodes has been created, for a friendly UI experience to encourage higher user engagement and help with reducing friction in node onboarding. 

3. We are also consistently working to automate our feedback loop for nodes, providing reporting processes and a self-help support system. 

We have also updated our node bounty payout formula. Nodes can now earn up to $50 worth of ETH per month and $600 per year. We are calculating your bandwidth contributions by an hourly rate of $0.07 p/h, with a minimum payout from $5 per month. Read more about this update here.

Ask Me Anything with Mysterium Network CEO & Founder

Robertas recently sat down with our community for an AMA on Reddit. Below is the list of these questions and answers, including some of the most common FAQs. In full transparency, nothing was held-back. 

Learn what we’re working on and see what the future holds for Mysterium!

1. Question on the Bittrex exchange. Are you going to go back there? Because the coins that remained on it will be sold in large quantities.

We are planning a wider reach, where we will introduce the MYST token to various exchanges by the middle of this quarter. Bitterex will be just one of the exchanges that we approach for listings.

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2. When are the next exchange listings? 

We need to align our relisting of MYST tokens on exchanges with the launch of our payments infrastructure. We expect this development to approach its final stages in this quarter, however it’s impossible to estimate this exactly as it involves R&D, which has an undefined ending.

As such, our exchange listing strategy will be led by our payment system going live on the mainnet. You can follow the development of the payment system on the Mysterium Github.

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3. Is there a token liquidity plan? If so, when will it step into force?

Security token VS. Utility token – MYST is a utility token. Liquidity will be provided once we are listed on various exchanges.

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4. What will you do now to provide MYST availability since there are many exchanges restricted in the US?

As mentioned before, we will be talking to a number of exchanges to distribute our token. Our token is a utility token, and its utility will be fully realised in our custom payment system. We hope that people in the US will be able to use MYST on our platform, as long as US exchanges accept us.

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5. Why does the MYST token get no attention from the team?

The main goal of Mysterium is to develop a product and economic system which allows nodes and users to use MYST to access, or get paid for offering, VPN services. Right now we are focused on growing our global node network and developing a robust payment system to provide the best possible service.

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6. What are you going to do to help improve the price of MYST?

We don’t encourage speculation. MYST is a utility token – its function is to reward participants in our network and help promote the widespread use a circular economy that fights internet censorship.

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7. Why are the team members no longer shown and information about staff not shared? How about getting the whole team back to the site?

You can find our core team here: https://mysterium.network/team/, however, we work with developers and contractors from all around the world who help keep the Mysterium vision alive.

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8. Do you have a marketing plan and how do you spend money on it?

As a company, we are constantly searching for the best way to scale our node program, including investing in the most cost-effective experiments which lead to the onboarding of many new nodes to our MESH. Once we have proof of concept of a stable and sustainable network we will begin investing in wider marketing efforts for the project.

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9. When will you be transparent with finances?

We have over 29 thousand of ETH which is being used to fund our project until we can become sustainable and start generating profitable returns, for both our company and for our users. This is one of the main reasons for our key focus on node acquisition and onboarding. A sustainable network of nodes open up several B2B monetisation models for the project and will help us with bridging the gap between the current web infrastructure and web 3 decentralization fundamentals.

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10. How much money do you have left? How will the project continue to survive?

As above – our project is building toward a sustainable network which solves daily user and B2B problems while also bringing in continuous sales.

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11.Why the lack of communication about the direction of the project?

This question is being asked frequently, but the answer always remains the same: we are shifting our business and product strategies to adapt to market needs. When we first ran the ICO our goal was to go after a consumer market. The market spectrum has changed with multiple decentralized VPN projects emerging and going after different pieces of the VPN market pie. In saying that, the VPN market is huge and there is opportunity for many different solutions for different use cases. Our main focus in on fat data transfer. To get more frequent updates on our project, run a Mysterium Node, join our node tester telegram group and let us know how we can improve the node experience and strength of our network.

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12. Why is the Google Store rating for the mobile app going down?

We have paused our Android app development as we have pivoted to focus on creating the most stable node network possible. This is important as we are building a marketplace and need a strong and stable supply of nodes to ensure network stickiness for users and B2B partners.

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13. Why is the mobile app source code not available yet as promised a long time ago?

Our mobile app source code is available on Github.You can check it out any time.

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14. Does Mysterium outsource-workers?

Yes. As we shift and move with the newest trends, we hire TOP external team members to move fast and deliver the best results.

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15. Who are the current team members?

We can’t provide information about every team member due to GDPR. This compounded with the fringe nature of our project means that we are extremely cognizant of our team and contributors’ privacy.

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16. What are their roles in a team? Share team photo and office photo to us! So there could have more confidence!

We have various teams and staff working across operations, legal, development, business development, marketing and product. Check out our Instagram channel which was created not so long ago, you will be able to see us there.

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17. Do you have hidden/private git-repositories?

Due to quality control, we do have hidden git-repositories. We always share our newest builds but we don’t want people downloading a product which is not yet fully built or still in development stage.

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18. Why did you add a raspberry REFERRAL link on-site? The ICO fund is out?

The Raspberry Pi referral link is part of our new node pilot and offers the Mysterium community a chance to earn extra money! This is a new program where you can give out your own unique referral code to your friends, and with every stable node in our network with your code. We have taken the link off the site to make the program smaller and test and learn. To get involved, reach out to sharmini@mysterium.network

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19. Understandably product is a priority for Mysterium, but the importance of marketing and community can’t be ignored. If there is no price appreciation – How does mysterium expect initial investors to keep hanging on? I mean even in traditional startups VC expect an appreciation after 2 years of their equity .. Nothing like that is happening with Myst.

Our goal has always to ensure MYST is a fully functional utility token. These tokens simply provide users with a product and/or service. Think of them like gateway tokens. The Mysterium Network is the only place where our token will be used. It’s price is always secondary.

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20. Why the lack of news and updates?

The blockchain market moves quickly and its technological development even more so. We are constantly adapting and readjusting our roadmap to make sure we deliver an exceptional product that is market-ready. We’ve been working hard, but at times we must refocus and start from scratch quickly. This is why we’ve been more quiet than usual lately, as we don’t want to brag about what *could* be done or what is in progress, rather let our product releases speak for themselves . We haven’t forgotten our community – we will spread the news of every milestone that we reach.

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21. Why are you not doing interviews and podcasts?
We are creating educational content [link to YouTube, link to blog] to help our community and node runners better understand our product. We will be more focused on being on podcasts and interviews once we have established clear and sustainable acquisition channels for Mysterium Nodes and can offer a stable service to users who join the network through these efforts.

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22. Why has the activity on social media gone down?

The activity is going to be up soon. Be ready for a boom 🙂

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23. Why did you promise a roadmap months ago and deliver nothing?

We are constantly working to deliver our roadmap goals. We’ve recently dedicated ourselves to R&D as this brings the most value to our development. Building technology from scratch is challenging and requires a lot of learning, trial and error.

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24. Why did you promise a series of partnerships for 2019 and deliver nothing?

2019 isn’t over! We are still focused on these developing these partnerships. This product is huge and every partnership comes with unique requirements where we have to customise our technology to ensure a quality experience for each community. We have an exciting partnership announcement coming up. Sign up for our newsletter to hear it first.

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25. Why doesn’t WireGuard™ work properly?
The WireGuardimplementation was proof of concept, for us to test that we can use other protocols within our dVPN application. As mentioned, we are focused on node acquisition and frictionless onboarding in the short to medium term.

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26. Why no iOS version yet? When?

While there is no Node network to share, there is no need for an IOS mobile app. It was promised before, and we are not shelving this idea, but at the moment an IOS app isn’t part of our immediate strategy, nor does it solve the problems we are facing at the moment.

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27. Why no Linux client yet? When?

There is a Linux client that can be run on docker. At the same time, the Raspberry Pi set up is based on the Linux system, and with its development we will connect the current client to Linux.

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28. Why wasn’t the payment system delivered in Q1 as promised?

Due to our R&D process, we have faced a lot of barriers that led us to start a new payment system from scratch. This is the main reason why are late with our system build. Developing a unique P2P payment system is not an easy job. One of our most experienced payment developers is working every day to create the best payment system which suit our needs. We will not release a half-working payment system, due to hacker breaches and other security measurements (as well as our integrity and reputation).

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29. Why have you not announced how many MYST will be required to run a node yet? When will the token be used for anything?

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Our payment system is already being built, but it is a huge process where we encounter many challenges. Running a node does not require MYST. In the future, prices will be set by individual nodes, and you can choose to buy bandwidth from whichever node you like and accept their offered rate.

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30. When multi-hops?

Much later – first we focus on the network. Multi-hops is an improvement of VPN product, so we want to release the final product first and then work on improvements later.

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31. Why do you ignore your investors and token holders?

No one is ignoring token holders and investors. Please always contact our Community Manager through telegram @germantasjus to ask him for anything.

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32. Robert or team members hold the MYST token?

All team members are given MYST tokens in bonuses, and the founding team still have all of their tokens.

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33. Tell us about the progress that has occurred over the past six months, give us a retro perspective?

Please refer to our product road map (Medium).

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34. Interested in when the product will be launched into mass use? At least in what quarter?

Once we have built the payment network, it requires testing and then ongoing revisions to improve it, I don’t have an answer for when it is going to be used in en masse, but we are launching it soon.

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35. When will be known the cost of connecting to the node for the day?

The price for connecting to a node will be decided by that particular node runner, compared to its bandwidth quality. We will provide an example for calculating appropriate prices for certain nodes, but this will just be a suggested price for Node runners. Prices will be determined by the free market within our network.

What happened to the Internet?

In its very early days, the Internet was decentralised. It was a public place where computers spoke to each other directly. Anyone could build upon open protocols that were governed by a small community of users — just like Mysterium Network (sign up for our closed node runner pilot).

This accessibility invited companies to contribute, to experiment, and develop fast. Direct peer to peer file sharing was born during this time, in the late 90s. The first Internet businesses began to emerge, and they soon abandoned the open protocol design in place of their own centralized alternatives.

The Internet today is now governed by a handful of these businesses. Tech empires — Google, Amazon, Apple, Yahoo, Facebook — with their privately owned servers and infrastructure power the web for everyone. With this power comes unchallenged and uncapped control. If the Internet were a nation state, it would not be a democracy.

“If the Internet were a nation state, it would not be a democracy.”

While they operate mostly in the online domain, the decisions and actions of these tech giants affect our privacy, security, our access to information and to each other. Their carefully programmed algorithms design our world view, and most of our news is filtered through very few platforms. We can only trust that Google will act ethically as a gatekeeper to the world’s information. Facebook has already betrayed our trust, yet we continue to log in each day without any reasonable alternative. The internet, which is “owned” by no one, has been monopolised.

Governments and their agencies have attempted to exert some sort of influence and keep these companies in check. Legislations like the GDPR are meant to protect us, but the laws which govern the privacy of our personal data have largely benefited corporate needs.

“We pay Internet Service Providers to get us online, yet they continue to sabotage our privacy in exchange for greater returns.”

The trouble with centralisation

The flaws with a centralised internet are deeply embedded within its infrastructure:

  1. Servers are vulnerable to hacks or network failure
  2. Our personal data is readily available for advertisers
  3. Content is blocked or censored against our will.

“We have normalised the trading of our privacy in exchange for convenient services”

We pay Internet Service Providers to get us online, yet they continue to sabotage our privacy in exchange for greater returns. Your every email, purchase, google search, upload and friend request is translated into data that is collected and stored in their centralised servers. All this personal information is monetised without your knowledge, your online habits and movements sold to advertisers and businesses who thrive off our profiles. Just this week, Bloomberg reported that businesses can buy information about our locations and movements with ease.

These servers are regularly hacked and sensitive data leaked, often without real consequence. In 2018 alone, over one billion people were victim to these data breaches. You may have been affected without knowing (but you can check using certain tools, including this one).

What’s more concerning is the ease with which governments can access this same information. Tech companies allow the NSA to access their servers and collect data through formalised arrangements. The UK’s Snoopers Charter grants the government the right to legally monitor the internet usage of its citizens.

We have normalised the trading of our privacy in exchange for convenient services, forgetting that it is a basic human right. The UN urges the protection of our privacy and anonymity online to evade the grasp of “broad and intrusive government surveillance.”

Part of the Charter of Human Rights is the fundamental right of freedom of expression, which encompasses the freedom to “to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.” Yet many jurisdictions around the world confine their citizens within digital walls, inhibiting the free flow of truths and voices. This online censorship erodes democracy and equality in the real world.

The Web3 revolution starts with you

We’re now entering a new era of the internet, one which honours its original, decentralised roots.

“To decentralise the internet is to democratise it”

New technology offers us an opportunity to re-engineer the foundations of the web today; it withdraws commercial influence and government control, distributing this power among users instead. To decentralise the internet is to democratise it — to break apart the infrastructure of a corporately managed internet, and assign this responsibility to us.

Blockchain has already begun facilitating this through its democratic and self-governing architecture. Instead of centralised servers, we can create peer to peer systems which allow people, not business, to securely store and share information online.

Anyone can be a part of this decentralised system. Your computer becomes a node, acting as a miniature server. This means it can help power the entire network by directly sharing its excess resources, such as bandwidth or processing power. We can do this without any kind of official host or authority at all — and be paid for it. The bigger this distributed network grows, the stronger and faster it becomes, and a bandwidth marketplace can flourish.

An internet powered by people is the next stage of its technological and social evolution. An ambitious few have already started to jumpstart this transformation. The creator and “father” of the Internet himself, Tim Berners-Lee, is now the co-lead of the Decentralized Information Group at MIT, working to reverse the trend of centralisation and restore “net neutrality”.

“An internet powered by people is the next stage of its technological and social evolution.”

Momentum is building. Countless other entrepreneurial teams around the world are building the decentralised applications (dApps) and open-source tools which will empower a global community of users to govern and sustain the internet.

What can a node network “do”? A dVPN use case

A strong node network can solve the failings of our centralised internet. One of its many real-world applications is in being the foundation of a strong, community-run VPN.

Think of a VPN as a failsafe against the various threats which undermine an open and democratic internet. It allows you to connect to servers located around the world, hiding your IP address and identity — a technological remedy for censorship, surveillance and firewalls.

Yet common VPNs utilise servers that are centrally owned and run by businesses, and they can store logs of all your traffic without anyone knowing. You have to trust that they won’t do anything with this data, nor that they’ll hand it over to authorities if asked to. While some of your data may be encrypted, lots of it can still be revealed.

We can instead leverage decentralised networks so that your encrypted data is sharded into separate pieces and filtered in an unrecognisable form through a distributed node network — without the possibility of being traced or censored. A single node will never be able to identify you or your online activities, nor can authorities and third parties.

In its decentralised form, a VPN pays people (nodes) for providing the service. And as with a decentralised internet, a decentralised VPN has no single point of failure or attack, making it more robust than centralised options. It creates a secure and accessible online space, enhances user privacy in the truest sense, and is strengthened by the mutual trust and shared interests of a global community looking out for each other.

Become a Mysterium Node Runner

https://mysterium.network/node/

Decentralisation still has a way to go. It may take decades for the internet to migrate onto a P2P network, but we are already crafting the tools to make it a reality. We can rewire the internet so that it becomes a public domain once again — a space for new ideas, collaboration and connection.

This is just the beginning. You can help us democratise the web, one node at a time.

Join our node pilot by downloading our node for Windows, Mac and Raspberry Pi.

Golang — C++ interoperability

The reincarnation of OpenVPN’s C++ library

At Mysterium Network we are working on the world’s 1st decentralized VPN. Our project is built on Golang (Go). Go is a statically compiled language, which offers a rich standard library. Go is syntactically similar to C but comes out as the winner when it comes to memory safety, garbage collection, structural typing, and CSP style concurrency.

There are many libraries written in C or C++. When you wish to use these libraries within Golang, there are two approaches:

Rewrite the library in Golang

Several projects have gone down this road. Wireguard® has done this, check out some of their libraries.

Reuse the code in a way that Golang can call it.

There are other tools that can help with calling java or objective C code into Golang, but everything goes through an intermediary. At a fundamental level, there is interoperability between C and Golang.

In this article, we will be talking about integrating C++ OpenVPN 3 library into a Golang Mysterium Node.

As mentioned above, we are using OpenVPN under the hood. This was our first protocol and it was used as an external binary (executable file).

This basically means that a Mysterium Node and OpenVPN are two different processes which communicate using OpenVPN config and IPC (local sockets to be exact).

Now, this has some limitations — for example, software distribution becomes complicated as you also need to distribute OpenVPN binary with each Mysterium Node — two steps, never great for UX.

It was workable for a proof of concept or very early versions, but as we moved to mobile platforms, this approach became very complicated or even not feasible — especially when considering iOS.

To solve this challenge, we decided to find a way to integrate OpenVPN into our Golang project directly. Also, we decided that this package could be useful for others, that’s how this library was born.

Openvpn3 to the rescue.

Openvpn3 is the official library maintained by OpenVPN team and is being used in almost all platforms as client or connector to OpenVPN server. Also, it’s written in C++ which came with some obstacles we needed to solve.

Golang and C++ don’t get along

Our first obstacle was that C++ code cannot be directly called by Golang (Cgo to be exact).
We needed to make small changes to the OpenVPN library itself to export OpenVPN Client as C callable code. This can be found here, and it’s basically a go compatible entry point to the OpenVPN library.

Then there is how Golang treats C code itself (cgo).
The problem was that Golang and it’s package management systems expect that all libraries are source files (i.e. there is no or very limited binary package management). And OpenVPN3 library build process was very over complicated and not easily expressed in a Go way.

So our decision was to compile that library in advance for all platforms we currently support or produce binaries for (arm family (android ios), amd64 family (Windows, Linux, some simulators). As we use Linux for our automatic build system, we had to set up all compilers and SDKs in one place — but that’s for another blog post. Sign up to our newsletter to hear more about what we’re building.

Our heavily patched docker image is heavily borrowed from Karalabe. The result was a single header file (very simple) and a bunch of static libraries for each platform/OS we needed.

We also had to ensure that these binaries were Go gettable (the go way to fetch a library from GitHub).
We simply committed those libraries to Go repo along with all supporting Go code (which is available at mysterium.network/go-openvpn/openvpn3). Not the best way to distribute the software, but our target was a go gettable library.

Now the easy part 😏 — to call Openvpn3 functions from Go.

It’s quite easy doable. The following examples are simple calls of C functions exported by OpenVPN library (our C wrapper):

And here come problems:

  1. First of all, strict rules as to what can and cannot be passed to C code and vice versa, for example — you cannot pass go function reference to C code.
  2. The openvpn3 client also depends heavily on callback functions. One way to approach this was to use only static functions for callbacks. However, this would have limited the flexibility and usability of the library.
    A hybrid solution was to define customisable callback functions in Go and register them in a map with function ids. Static functions in the OpenVPN3 client would then dispatch respective callbacks to registered functions with corresponding ids.
    Here is how it works (let’s take state event callback function as an example):

User defines normal go structures with methods, which satisfies interfaces expected by callback registry:

Structure is passed to callback registry which is essentially global id -> callback map:

What happens next, callbacks registry inserts user provided structure with methods, and creates a C structure, ready to be passed to C code, but instead of passing go function reference to C code, it passes id which is simply key to callback map and an exported go function (with special comment).

When C code wants to inform user of state changes, it calls static go function and one of the parameters is id. That id is then passed to callback registry to find and call apprioprate user defined callback.

It compiled. At least the Go part — that means that C code is reachable, and all headers are ok.

Most of the dragons started rearing their heads when it came to linking the Go packages with OpenVPN static libraries.

The biggest issue was that — the library was built with C++ compiler, but golang cgo used C compiler by default. As a result, all weird and ugly errors began to raise at the linking stage. So if you see similar errors as in example — you are not alone:

After hours of stack overflow exploration, a simple workaround was to put a empty .cpp file inside the package which uses “C” imports. That way cgo was tricked into using the c++ linker which already had c++ library by default.

There are several other issues we faced but that again is for another blog post. Stay tuned.

In conclusion

When using new technologies like Golang you have to sometimes go off-chain to find solutions that will help you use existing libraries so that you don’t have to start everything from scratch. However, as most solutions in IT, it’s not a silver bullet.

Key takeaways

  • Precompiled libraries on their own poses security risk — potential library users cannot be sure what is exactly compiled in, as there is no code to review
  • Each OS and architecture combination has to have a separate version of the same library
  • iOS framework problem — iOS framework lib (provided by gomobile tool) is a static library itself. So any other dependencies are linked but not combined into the framework — need to do it as a separate step
  • It’s simply not a go way — golang usually expects all source needed for the package, to be in one place.

Connect with our project

Please be sure to follow and subscribe to the following:

Website — https://mysterium.network

Twitter — https://twitter.com/MysteriumNet

Telegram — https://t.me/Mysterium_Network

Reddit — https://www.reddit.com/r/MysteriumNetwork

Facebook — https://www.facebook.com/MysteriumNet

Steemit — https://steemit.com/@mysteriumnetwork

Bitcointalk — https://bitcointalk.org/index.php?topic=1895626.0

Please join the Telegram groups most relevant to you and engage with our team. We want to hear from you.

English — https://t.me/Mysterium_Network

Rules & FAQ — https://t.me/MysteriumRulesAndFAQ

Announcements — https://t.me/MysteriumOfficialAnnouncements

Node Testing — https://t.me/mysterium_network_nodes

MysteriumVPN Testing — https://t.me/joinchat/I5-aG0z_3SA6PLgQBCOXlA

中文 / Chinese — https://t.me/MysteriumChineseChat

русский / Russian https://t.me/mystRU

Español / Spanish — https://t.me/mysterium_network_espanol

And finally, if you’d like to see more of these types of updates give us some claps and let us know.

*WireGuard” and the “WireGuard” logo are registered trademarks of Jason A. Donenfeld.

Mysterium Network 2018 round up and Q4 updates

cybersecurity tips

Happy New Year from Team Mysterium!

It’s time for a quick update from our team to round up 2018, and our last quarter. It’s been busy, and we’re excited to share some of the milestones that the project has reached.

First things first, here are some fun facts from 2018:

A quick snapshot from: https://testnet.mysterium.network/
  • Over +6,000 unique users used Mysterium Network
  • This made for over +28907 successful sessions — with more than 10.82TB transferred across our network, and average session times of 5 hours and 32 minutes.
  • Our last quarter accounted for over 70% of unique users & successful connections
  • We launched MysteriumVPN app on desktop and mobile. Download MysteriumVPN for Windows, Mac and Android.
  • MysteriumVPN Android app has over 1000 installs with an average of ~50% conversion rate and a 4.3 rating on GooglePlay since our launch on the 19th of December 2018.
  • Launched Mysterium Wallet on Testnet, more on that below.

Now to get a little more granular as to what we’ve been up to in the last three months:

Mysterium API updates

Completed mobile API for OpenVPN

We are using OpenVPN under the hood. This was the first protocol — external binary (executable file). We didn’t see any problems until we started building for mobile.

This is because you are very restricted as to what you can run as an external process in mobile. This is due to operating system limitations. So we decided we needed to use OpenVPN, not as an external process but by having it embedded into our nodes.

Mobile API for Wireguard®

WireGuard brings cutting-edge cryptography to the MysteriumVPN. Running inside the Linux Kernel, it aims to be faster, simpler and leaner than IPsec. It also intends to perform much faster than OpenVPN. Our Mobile API for Wireguard means that this protocol will available on MysteriumVPN on Android and iOS (coming soon).

Node filtering using node connections statistics

We are now able to analyse successful / failed connections and depending on this ratio we decide on the priority by which to suggest nodes for clients. While node filtering hasn’t been implemented yet, what we have done is improve the visibility of stable nodes by showing at the top of the available list on MysteriumVPN, thereby ensuring better service for all our users.

Other Improvements

  • OpenVPN connection stability improvements
  • OpenVPN re-connect call used for mobile migration between 4G and Wifi networks
  • Code refactoring to accommodate pluggable node services

Mysterium VPN updates

Launched MysteriumVPN on Android.

We’re really excited to have launched MysteriumVPN for Android and are powering towards our iOS release. We’d love your feedback on the product. Please download and give us feedback on our dedicated alpha testing telegram channel.

Check out some of the reviews we’ve had so far:

And here’s some of the press we had from this initiative. We’re excited to see so much support for our project!

https://www.cryptoninjas.net/2018/12/19/blockchain-powered-vpn-project-mysterium-network-launches-app-for-android/

https://bitrss.com/news/117440/mysterium-vpn-app-launches-on-google-play

Deployed Mysterium Wallet on Testnet

The long-awaited Mysterium Wallet is finally here. Check out detailed instructions on how you can register your Mysterium ID using our wallet here. Please note — currently registering identity works on Ethereum Ropsten Testnet only. Test it, and let us know what you think!

Deployed Mysterium ID

Mysterium ID has been deployed internally. To get into more detail check out our dedicated post about how Mysterium ID will work within Mysterium Network.


Marketing updates

YouTube Interview:

Mysterium Network Founder Robertas Visinskis — Cryptocurrency Virtual Summit YouTube interview: “Anonymity and privacy are not the same thing”.

 

 

Tech Podcast

Mysterium Network Founder Robert Visinskis talks about restoring our privacy with the first decentralized VPN blockchain project.
https://techblogwriter.co.uk/mysterium-network/


Events and conferences we’ve been at:

Hard Fork Decentralized 2018

Mysterium Network Business Development Lead Andra attended Hard Fork Decentralized 2018 conference in London to discuss privacy, security and decentralization.

https://thenextweb.com/conference/

ETHSingapore: ASEAN’s 1st Ethereum Hackathon

Mysterium Head of Marketing Sharmini was present in ETHSingapore: ASEAN’s 1st Ethereum Hackathon with prominent crypto industry members like Vitalik Buterin in attendance.

https://ethsingapore.co/

Black Hat Europe 2018

Mysterium Business Development Lead Andra was present in Black Hat Europe 2018 in London. Mysterium was looking for synergies with other cybersecurity companies at the event. Black Hat provides attendees with the very latest in research, development, and trends in Information Security.

https://www.blackhat.com/eu-18/

Mysterium Business Development Lead Andra (left) networking with OWASP (The Open Web Application Security Project) at Black Hat Europe 2018.

BlockShow Asia 2018

Mysterium Head of Marketing Sharmini participated in BlockShow Asia 2018 in Singapore.

100+ Speakers. 2000+ Attendees. 76% Senior management. 200+ Journalists. 50+ Countries. Entrepreneurs, investors, talents, developers, startups — all in one place. BlockShow is a major international event for showcasing established blockchain solutions.

Blockshow was a great opportunity to understand the way Asian blockchain works. It was great to speak with and find ways to collaborate with companies across the world. — Sharmini

https://blockshow.com/

During our time at these conferences and in reaching out to the wider community we’ve begun identifying the partners whose values align with ours and we have a series of partnerships lined up for 2019.

Stay tuned for some exciting announcements.


That’s all for now, we’re gonna keep on focusing on the future we’re here to #buidl

Want to stay in the know? Subscribe to our newsletter.

Connect with our project

Please be sure to follow and subscribe to the following:

Website — https://mysterium.network
Twitter — https://twitter.com/MysteriumNet
Telegram — https://t.me/Mysterium_Network
Reddit — https://www.reddit.com/r/MysteriumNetwork
Facebook — https://www.facebook.com/MysteriumNet
Steemit — https://steemit.com/@mysteriumnetwork
Bitcointalk — https://bitcointalk.org/index.php?topic=1895626.0

Please join the Telegram groups most relevant to you and engage with our team. We want to hear from you.

English — https://t.me/Mysterium_Network

Rules & FAQ — https://t.me/MysteriumRulesAndFAQ

Announcements — https://t.me/MysteriumOfficialAnnouncements

Node Testing — https://t.me/mysterium_network_nodes

MysteriumVPN Testing — https://t.me/joinchat/I5-aG0z_3SA6PLgQBCOXlA

中文 / Chinese — https://t.me/MysteriumChineseChat

русский / Russian https://t.me/mystRU

Español / Spanish — https://t.me/mysterium_network_espanol

And finally, if you’d like to see more of these types of updates give us some claps and let us know.

*WireGuard” and the “WireGuard” logo are registered trademarks of Jason A. Donenfeld.

Please beware of scams. We will never ask you for your private keys.

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