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Savannah

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 Discord or Twitter.

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  AndroidMac 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.

What is Mysterium BetaNet, and why you should join

best cybersecurity tips

We are fast approaching the official launch of Mysterium Network, a world first pay-as-you-go crypto VPN. But before that, we’ll bring you BetaNet. Read on and learn why…

Mysterium is very different from your regular VPN. Download Mysterium VPN for free (for a limited time). Try it for yourself! Download on Android, Mac, and Windows.

Thanks to its peer-to-peer (P2P) architecture, there are no contracts, no subscriptions, and no locked-in costs. You get direct access to a global list of residential IP addresses, provided by everyday internet users around the world, so you can teleport anywhere online. 

Our custom designed payments infrastructure lets you stream, connect, share and socialise by the second. Switch on and off whenever you need, and only pay for what you actually use, minute by minute.

And because you pay with cryptocurrency (the future of money, it’s here to stay!), these micropayments are as untraceable as your browsing habits. Paying with crypto means that you’re paying for your privacy the fastest, cheapest and most anonymous way.

Mysterium VPN is the evolution of cybersecurity. It’s integrated OpenVPN and WireGuard protocols, so everything you do is protected by the highest industry standards. 

And thanks to our decentralized architecture, it’s technologically impossible for us to log anything. We connect you to residential IPs only, so there are no giant servers for us to store any kind of data. While regular VPNs claim they don’t do any logging, you just have to take their word for it. 

VPN vs TOR vs dVPN

What’s the deal with BetaNet?

We’ll soon move Mysterium onto BetaNet, a brief stopover between our free version and our full launch. During this phase, we will collaborate with our community to battle test the code and make sure everything’s working as it should. When it comes to your privacy, there’s no room for error.

We will begin with an invite only BetaNet, working with a small group of initial testers. The rationale behind invite only is to ensure a controlled environment as we transition to real P2P payments with MYST on the Ethereum blockchain.

Interested in exploring the Mysterium Network BetaNet? Use this form to register or jump into our Discord channel and let the team know.

With your help, we will make Mysterium VPN even BETA than you can imagine 😉

Following a successful BetaNet, we will transition Testnet users onto MainNet, and release Mysterium VPN into the wild for the whole world to play with.

And if you’ve made it this far through the blog… make sure to enter the MYSTEARLYACCESS code in the Gleam widget to unlock your extra points in our giveaway competition!

What is a peer-to-peer network?

What is P2P (Peer-to-peer) technology?

For centuries, human connection has never been a simple equation. 1+1 often equals 3, sometimes more. We had messengers who carried sealed letters, phone operators who connected our calls, and now Internet Service Providers who hook us into a matrix of other businesses, platforms and infrastructure owners just to send a simple email.

Perhaps the most perplexing and inconvenient way of communicating – the singing telegram…

Yet with the dawn of peer-to-peer (P2P) technology, the role of these middlemen (and women) has perhaps become obsolete.

P2P networks (and P2P software) allows 2 devices (and therefore, two people) to communicate directly, without necessitating a third party to ensure it happens. The technology has often been rejected and buried in the darker corners of the web, especially as corporations have taken over our communication channels. These businesses have dictated how we connect and communicate with one another for decades.

But before the web was ruled by the corporate letheans of today, it was once powered by the people who used it. This P2P ecosystem meant that users could connect and communicate with each other directly. The bluetooth in your phone functions similarly to this – you airdrop files directly between devices, with no need for any intermediary to facilitate or even see what files you’re sharing.

Maybe you remember Napster. They popularised P2P music file sharing. While you were downloading and sharing files from this platform, you were also spreading a new phenomenon which the internet made possible – community-powered, governed and owned technology that stretched into our social and economic realms.

Vintage P2P network. A window you recognise, even if you never used it. Source.

But first - what is the client-server model?

The internet that we know today is mostly made up of the client-server model. All machines or devices connected directly to the internet are called servers. Your computer, phone or IoT device is a client that wants to be connected to the web, and a server stores those websites and web content you want to access. Every device, whether client or server, has its own unique “address” (commonly known as your IP address), used to identify the path/route for sending and receiving the files you want to access

How does the internet “work”? A look at the client-server network model.

Servers store and control all this web information centrally. The biggest and most widely used ones are owned by companies like Google, Facebook and Amazon. These possess the computing power, memory and storage requirements that can be scaled to global proportions. It also means that a single server can also dictate the consumption and supply of resources and websites to users (clients), like you and me.

What is a peer in networking? How does P2P work?

Peer-to-peer infrastructure transforms the traditional role of a server. In a P2P system, a web user is both a server and a client, and is instead called a node. (Your computer or device technically acts as the node.)

Related: The ultimate guide to running and earning with a Mysterium node by sharing your bandwidth.

Nodes power the network by sharing their resources such as bandwidth, disc storage and/or processing power. These can be shared directly and information is distributed evenly among all nodes within the network. These sorts of decentralised systems use shared resources more efficiently than a traditional network as they evenly distribute workloads between all nodes. Together, these computers equally and unanimously power web applications. Because there is no need for a central host or server, these networks are also less vulnerable from a security and network health standpoint, as there is no single point of failure.

What is an example of a peer to peer network? what is P2P used for?

“Peer-to-Peer mechanisms can be used to access any kind of distributed resources

There are many uses for peer-to-peer networks today. P2P software have characteristics and advantages that are missing from the web today – trustless and permissionless, censorship-resistant, and often with built-in anonymity and privacy.

P2P file sharing BitTorrentsync-and-share P2P software which allows users to download “pieces” of files from multiple peers at once to form the entire file. IPFS has also emerged, where users can download as well as host content. There is no central server and each user has a small portion of a data package. IPFS is the evolution in P2P file sharing and functions like BitTorrent and other torrent protocols. IPFS mimics many characteristics of a Blockchain, connecting blocks which use hash-function security. However, IPFS does support file versioning, while blockchain is immutable (permanent).

P2P knowledge – Decentralised Wiki (Dat protocol)an article is hosted by a range of readers, instead of one centralised server, making censorship much more difficult. 

P2P money – Bitcoinwhere value is digitised, encrypted and transparent – and as easily transferred as an email. Computers or machines (nodes) with enough GPU power maintain and secure the network. Peers can store and maintain the updated record of its current state. 

P2P computing power – Golemdecentralised supercomputer that anyone can access and use. A network of computers combine the collective processing and computing power of all peers’ machines. The connection grows stronger as more computers join and share resources.

P2P communicationSignalperhaps the most popular communication app with end-to-end encryption and architecture mimics P2P tech. Their server architecture was previously federated, and while they rely on centralised options for encrypted messaging and to share files, this facilities the discovery of contacts who are also Signal users and the automatic exchange of users’ public keys. Voice and video calls are P2P however.

Peer-to-peer in many ways is human-to-human. These virtual and collaborative communities hold us accountable to each other and the technology we’re using. They offer us a sense of responsibility and comradeship. They have been called “egalitarian” networks, as each peer is considered equal, with the same rights and duties as every other peer. If we’re all helping to keep something sustained – a living digital community where responsibility is equally shared yet belongs to no one – then perhaps we can emulate these same lines of thought beyond our technical networks and into our political and social worlds.

Can a P2P network teach us about purer forms of digital democracy? 

“In peer-to-peer networking, an algorithm in the peer-to-peer communications protocol balances load, and even peers with modest resources can help to share the load.”

Popular peer to peer networks and platforms

The theory of P2P networking first emerged in 1969 with a publication titled Request for Comments by the Internet Engineering Task Force. A decade later, a dial-up P2P network was launched in 1980 with the introduction of Usenet, a worldwide discussion system. Usenet was the first to operate without a central server or administrator.

But it wasn’t until 1999, some 20 years later, that a P2P network really proved its potential as a useful, social application. American college student Shawn Fanning launched Napster, the global music-sharing platform which popularised P2P software. Users would search for songs or artists via an index server, which catalogued songs located on every computer’s hard drive connected to the network. Users could download a personal copy while also sharing music files.

Napster Super Bowl XXXIX Ad “Do The Math”

Napsters experiential marketing tactics during the 2004 super bowl, when they abandoned their P2P network to paid model. 

Napster was the dawn of P2P networks “as we know them today”, introducing them to the mainstream. It has been suggested that peer-to-peer marketplaces – some of the most disruptive startups to grace the web – were inspired by the fundamental values and characteristics of Napster. Businesses such as AirBnB and Uber kickstarted the new sharing economy, but sold us the illusion of community. As conglomerates who are simply the middleman between our peer-to-peer transactions, we also become their hired workforces without realising it. This business model relies on us to supply our own homes, cars and time to create the sharing economy, while they simply facilitate the transactions (and take a cut).

With P2P systems, we can remove them from the picture altogether. If we decentralise the sharing economy, you become the user, the host and the network itself. As peers, we are incentivised to contribute time, files, resources or services and are rewarded accordingly, with no one taking a cut. Decentralised P2P networks are transparent, secure and truly community-run systems.

A strange sharing economy infographic by Morgan Stanely, who thinks everything can be shared – including pets? Source.

Jordan Ritter (Napster’s founding architect), was quoted in a Fortune article:

“As technologists, as hackers, we were sharing content, sharing data all the time. If we wanted music… It was still kind of a pain in the ass to get that stuff. So Fanning had a youthful idea: Man, this sucks. I’m bored, and I want to make something that makes this easier.”

Napster soon became the target of a lawsuit for distributing copyrighted music at a large scale, and was consequently shut down just 2 years later. Yet this “clever-if-crude piece of software” demonstrated new possibilities for applications, and “transformed the Internet into a maelstrom, definitively proving the web’s power to create and obliterate value…”

Corporate profit, infrastructural control

While digital networking has led to an unprecedented evolution of our social and professional lives, the potential of peer networks to power those daily interactions took much of a backseat as the web started to take off in the early 2000’s. While protocols of the early Web 1.0 were founded upon decentralised and peer-to-peer mechanisms, centralised alternatives eventually took over.

Related: What does internet censorship look like in 2020. And how can decentralisation change it?

Yet since centralised systems began to plant their roots deep into our internet infrastructure, the web has been slowly rotting away underneath shiny user interfaces and slick graphics. They make the internet less safe, with servers that are routinely hacked. It makes the internet far less private, enabling mass-surveillance conducted by cybercriminals and organisations alike. It makes the internet segregated and broken, rather than unified and democratic, with nations building impenetrable firewalls and cutting off the outside world altogether.

It’s said that P2P money poses a large threat to governments, who seem concerned that without regulation and oversight, these “anarchist” networks could grow beyond their control. The crackdown on cryptocurrency in countries with rampant human rights violations, corrupt governments and crippling economies only lends to the theory that peer to peer systems undermines the very foundations of traditional government structures.

Places where cryptocurrency seems to thrive, are often the same where censorship, corruption and economic instability. 
 

First P2P Money. Next, P2P Internet.

Yet the common, centralised standards which were born out of corporate and political needs are failing us today.

It’s time to turn the tides if we want to surf the web on our own terms.

Peer-to-peer networks have opened up entirely new philosophies around social and economic interactions. Researchers from a 2005 book exploring the potential of Peer-to-Peer Systems and Applications believed that these networks “promise….a fundamental shift of paradigms.” The applications which formed in the early 1980s “can no longer fully meet the evolving requirements of the Internet. In particular, their centralised nature is prone to resource bottlenecks. Consequently, they can be easily attacked and are difficult and expensive to modify due to their strategic placement within the network infrastructure.”

In the past decade, we have seen a re-emergence of P2P protocols. These new community-powered networks are creating entirely new systems and services, that are evolving beyond the traditional concepts of P2P. This was kickstarted in many respects by Bitcoin. Its underlying blockchain technology redefined our understanding of P2P, merging it with game theory, securing it with cryptography and expanding its network with a common CPU (in the first few years, at least).

P2P access

There are many P2P “layers” that can restructure the internet itself. A decentralised VPN is one such layer, offering P2P access to information.

This dVPN utilises a blockchain (the technology underlying Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies). Anyone can be a part of the network; your computer becomes a node, acting as a miniature server. This means it can help power the entire network by directly sharing its bandwidth or IP address – and be paid for it. There is no need for a host or intermediary. The bigger this distributed network grows, the stronger and faster it becomes. Its democratic and self-governing architecture creates an open marketplace that serves a global community in need.

This is what a future without internet censorship looks like… An internet powered by people is the next stage of its technological and social evolution.

A community-run VPN is different to a regular VPN in a few different ways. VPNs are businesses which exist to turn profit. Common VPNs own or rent servers that are centrally owned, and which could store logs of all your traffic without anyone knowing (in theory). You simply have to trust that they won’t do anything with this info. And while your data is encrypted, there have been cases of past hackings.

A P2P VPN instead leverages a decentralised network so that your encrypted data passes through a distributed node network, similar to Tor. 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 privacy service. And as with most P2P systems, a decentralised VPN has no single point of failure or attack, making it safer and stronger than centralised alternatives.

Related: VPN vs TOR vs dVPN. What’s the difference?

Power of the P

Often perceived as a more rudimentary technology, the potential of peer-to-peer technology has been shoved to the digital back shelf for some time. But as the internet evolves as a social and economic landscape, it’s slowly starting to take its rightful place in the online realm. In its simplicity lies its beauty. The most complex and honest human interactions are always the most direct and transparent.

A P2P VPN is just one example of these many different applications. You can try the Mysterium VPN for yourself and experience how P2P works. There are versions for  AndroidMac and Windows, currently free before our full launch.

Bernd Lapp on how to earn crypto by selling unused bandwidth via AVADO

best cybersecurity tips

This is a guest post by our partners over at Avado


Two months ago I started to run a package on my AVADO Blockchain Computer called Mysterium Network. This package installs a VPN endpoint on my computer which allows me to sell unused bandwidth to other users. For sharing the bandwidth, I receive a  monthly payment of up to 50 USD in Ether (you can find the exact payment rules here).

But first, let’s take this step by step.

What is AVADO

AVADO is a blockchain computer that provides access to Web3 applications. Web3 is the internet of value, also known as the blockchain economy. It’s powered by many decentralized applications (DApps).

Think of AVADO like your modem which you need to interact with the blockchain. You don’t have to have any knowledge of the blockchain itself, you can choose applications that are built on the blockchain from the integrated DAppStore. Check out the website https://ava.do for more info.

Mysterium is one of these Web3 DApps

Mysterium Network has created a dVPN for private internet access, and it’s all peer to peer. By selecting the Mysterium package from the AVADO DAppstore, you can sell unused bandwidth and earn crypto online.

Why use a VPN? Because information should be available to anyone; firewalls, geo-blocks and censorship erode democracy and freedom of expression.

You can help the internet to be great again, deserving of its name - World Wide Web.

By transforming your AVADO Box into a secure VPN connection, people in censored countries can buy VPN services from Mysterium Network. They gain access to information which their governments want to block from their view, like information on the Coronavirus.

You can help the internet to be great again, deserving of its name – World Wide Web. All you need is a stable connection and Mysterium’s easy to use DApp, so you can be in sleep mode while your AVADO earns crypto for you.

How does the Mysterium Network VPN work?

Mysterium Network has two modes: accept all traffic, or send only whitelisted traffic. Their decentralized architecture distributes traffic across the network using an advanced sharding technique. It scrambles and encrypts all data so that no single node ever has the full picture of what the user is doing. Mysterium Network’s layered protection protocols are designed to preserve your privacy – both as a user and a node.

Your AVADO Blockchain Computer becomes one of the endpoints for people using the Mysterium Network.

If you want to earn crypto with the AVADO Box, what do you need to do?

First of all, you need an AVADO Box. We ensured that the Mysterium Network package runs without friction on this hardware.

You can find the Mysterium Package in your AvadOS DAppstore.

Over time, other DApps that rent out your disk space or processing power will be added to the DAppstore.

What are my crypto earnings like?

As stated above, my Mysterium package has been running for two months now. In February I already earned 40 USD worth of Ether from participating in their Node Pilot, a research and development initiative they have been running to understand network dynamics as they gear up for mainnet. This month is halfway through and I am the second-highest on the leaderboard for my country.

What’s even more interesting is seeing which countries are using my endpoint. In my list, I see people from Russia, China, Iran, Nigeria, Turkey, Uganda, Vietnam, and many more countries. This gives me a good feeling that besides earning money, I am helping people to access information their government wants to restrict. I hope more people from these countries will use Mysterium and overcome censorship.

I hope to see you on the leaderboard soon as well and help free the web.

Written by Bernd Lapp: I am a former Advisory Board Member of the Ethereum Foundation, Founder of AVADO, Country Manager for CasperLabs and Advisor to a few Blockchain based Projects.
I like to simplify things. Nothing written in my blog posts is scientifically researched and only reflects my personal point of view. I use naive logic and have come quite far doing so.
If you like my posts, please feel free to follow me here or on Twitter or LinkedIn.


Learn more about our partnership with Avado.

Top 5 online hackathons; cure your quarantine boredom with bounties

Virtual is the new black.

As more and more of the world makes a pact to #StayTheFHome this COVID19 season, all planned conferences, meetups and hackathons are adapting their events for the online domain. 

So switch off Netflix and polish up your webcam – there’s hacking to be done, things to learn and bounties to win.

Funding the Future Virtual Hackathon

Organised by: Gitcoin 

Dates: March 16 – 30th

Prize: Up to $6500 per challenge

Gitcoin is a platform for you to get paid for working on open source projects. They’ve built a strong community of developers who collaborate and monetize their skills. 

They frequently host online hackathons and bounty programs, so you can check out the full list of current and upcoming virtual events, including their Funding the Future Hackathon. 

This two-week virtual hackathon features sponsors and projects from across the emerging decentralized finance (DeFi) space. Hackers will work together to build projects and tools that create, grow, and share value in brand new ways.

They’re also running a Blockchain for Social Impact hackathon, with 4 different categories: Sustainable Cities, Plastics and Pollution, Carbon Footprint, and Celp Peace and Prosperity. Winning ideas receive $6,500 in prize value (and runner up gets $1,500). Not a bad sum for trying to fix the planet. 

Can’t Be Censored Challenge

Organised by: Mysterium.Network

Dates: Applications close April 14th

Prize: Up to $5000 (first prize)

Calling all devs who give a sh*t about keeping the internet accessible and free. 

Mysterium Network is a distributed, permissionless privacy network. We’ve grown a large residential IP network for all kinds of next-gen privacy applications to be built on top of. 

Enter our “Can’t be Censored” challenge by submitting an app/DApp that fits into one of the featured categories and ultimately helps global citizens access the internet, no matter where in the world they are.  

We’re looking for new application ideas that span across iOS, Browser Plugin, Android TV, Bitcoin’s Lightning Network, Windows – or anything you like that you can build on our Network. 

Use code (and your brains) to put an end to internet censorship, data breaches and the abuse of our privacy rights.

International Women's Hackathon 2020

Organised by: HackerEarth

Dates: March 8th – April 30th

Prize: Up tp $3000

The annual International Women’s Hackathon has returned for 2020! This is its 6th edition, an all-women event and platform to showcase talents and build ideas for the Financial Technology, Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality, and Blockchain industries.

The IWH 2020 supports the UN’s theme for International Women’s Day – “Think equal, build smart, innovate for change,” and promote women developers around the globe. 

It invites women innovators, developers, creators, designers, and hackathon enthusiasts to showcase their projects to the world and take them to the next level.

GitLab Hackathon

Organised by: GitLab

Dates: May 13th – 14th

Prize: $100 to spend at the GitLab store

If you’re a dev, then you definitely have a GitHub or GitLab account. Easily join the GitLab community for this 2 day virtual event.

The Hackathon is open to anyone who is interested in contributing code, documentation, translations, UX designs and more to GitLab. Prizes are given to participants for having Merge Requests (MRs) merged and there may also be special award categories at each Hackathon.

You can choose an existing issue to work on, or file a new one. If it’s your first time contributing, a good way to join the Hackathon is to pick and fix a bite size issue. There are also issues for more experienced contributors.

Hack Quarantine

Organised by: Hackathons UK

Dates: March 23rd to April 12th

Prize: Cure the world and get to go outside again… (i.e Non-monetary)

Fight the flu! With your brain?

This fully-online, people-focused hackathon brings people together to use their skills to help combat the issues the world is facing with the COVID-19 pandemic. Work with medical professionals who will provide the knowledge and tools to empower all hackers to work on improving health, remote working and helping vulnerable populations.

Instead of having different challenges, the hackathon has separate “tracks”. Your project doesn’t have to fit perfectly into one track, it could be a mix and match of several (or all of them). Tracks were chosen based on areas where tech could be used to help solve some of the problems that the world is currently facing with the ongoing pandemic.

And for Data Scientists with a little more time on their hands…

Microsoft’s AI for Earth awards grants to support projects that use AI to change the way people and organizations monitor, model, and manage Earth’s natural systems. They’ve  already awarded 508 grants to projects with impact in 81 countries, and the list of grantees continues to grow. The four categories cover climate, agriculture, biodiversity and water.

Microsoft also offers awards to support environmental technology projects. They work with partner organizations to distribute special grants, including cash awards. You can check out these opportunities and learn how to apply. 

 

Best cybersecurity tips and tricks for a new digital decade

best cybersecurity tips

In a time when cyberattacks have reached an all-time high, it’s best we all clean up our act and give ourselves a good cyberscrub. So here are some cybersecurity tips to take you into 2020.

Good web hygiene leave no trace for advertisers or businesses to target you. But more importantly, they make it troublesome for hackers to find you.

Most hackers are lazy. They want minimal work for maximum return. If you’re an easy target, they’ll find out very quickly. If it will take even just a little effort to target you, they’ll move on to someone else. 

Don’t let yourself become a statistic in 2020. Put aside 5 minutes every day to tick each of these simple things off the list… 

The most important cybersecurity hack - secure passwords

Passwords are the first line of defence in cybersecurity, yet are often the weakest. In fact, approximately 80 percent of all data breaches are due to weak or reused passwords.

Tweets Putin Hates

If you use the same password across multiple accounts, that’s bad. If you use the SAME password for EVERY account – that’s just asking for it. It’s likely your email/password combination has been stored in a database that’s been hacked.

You can check here if you’ve been “pwned” (have an account that has been compromised in a data breach). You bet some hacker out there will try to use the same combination to gain access to your email or online banking. They can steal your money or even your identity – identity theft is on the rise.

Do a password audit. If you have Gmail for example, this can be done by going into your account settings and doing a general security check. Make sure each password is different for every account. 

Find out if your passwords have been compromised and if so, immediately change all of them. 

Google chrome can suggest new strong passwords. You can also set up an account with 1Password, which can generate and store all of your different passwords. A lot of people ask are password managers safe?

If you can’t remember or understand your password, that’s best. Memorable or human-readable passwords are weak. 

Create different emails for different purposes

It’s easy to create new, separate email addresses which can be used for specific reasons. You can have a private email account that is used for things such as banking, tax, government services and medical accounts. 

Use a different email to deal with work, clients and customers – it’s a great way to separate your personal data from your professional life. 

Have an everyday account for things like online shopping, subscription services. That way, if this kind of database is hacked (more likely than your banking or government accounts), your email won’t be traced back to those important accounts. 

Wipe cookies, clear cache, and always go incognito

Cookies are the little crumb trails that websites leave behind in your browser or device. They are user-specific, so it helps the website remember you and keep track of your activity, such as saving your login details for next time. Cookies can be harmless – but some are rotten. 

There are third party tracking cookies which can track your physical movements and see your browsing history. In one extreme case in 2016, Verizon was fined by the FCC over a “supercookie” technology which allowed third-party advertisers and websites to “assemble a deep, permanent profile of visitors’ web browsing habits without their consent.”

Safari, Firefox and Chrome are all taking measures to phase out the use of tracking cookies, with the latter starting a privacy-first initiative to make these third-party cookies “obsolete” by 2022

Due to GDPR, you would have noticed that most websites now ask you to accept their cookie settings.

what are cookies computer

Try always to choose only the necessary or required amount – this will be the least invasive. And most importantly – go “incognito” whenever you can. This will stop those pesky cookies.

If you’re using Chrome, you can easily check the cookies stored by each browser. Click on the lock symbol in your URL bar and select “Cookies”. You can then block or remove cookies you want. 

Note that this may affect your typical browsing experience. 

You can update or delete your cookies by going into your browser settings:

Offline cold storage - store important files on an external hard drive or USB

Try to store all of your important documents offline, such as scans of your passport, bank statements, contracts and other sensitive information you wouldn’t want to fall into the wrong hands. Every so often, sift through your downloads and move your important things into your hard drive, then delete them off your computer. 

best cybersecurity tips

Turn on 2FA!

Turn on Two-Factor authentication to create one extra security layer – and possibly the most annoying barrier to accessing your devices. If an app or website gives you the option to enable 2FA, always do it! Text message, biometrics, or authenticator code – it costs you nothing except a few extra seconds and is probably the one hurdle a hacker won’t be bothered to jump over.

Don’t save card details online

This one is a given. When a website asks if you’d like to save your card details for the sake of convenience – just don’t. 

Some web browsers, like Google Chrome, will auto-fill your details. You can stop that here.

Turn off location services

This one’s easy. Go into your app settings and disable location services for every app that does not require it to function. Some apps, though need your location to work correctly like Uber or Maps, can often have the setting “only track location while using app” – switch to this if possible. 

iPhone users follow this guide. 

Android users, here’s all you need to know.

why use a vpn best free vpn

Don’t use public wifi - unless you’re using a VPN

Last but not least – if you’re working from a cafe, browsing online at the airport or just connecting to some shady public wifi that pops up – try to avoid using it all. 

If you MUST, avoid doing anything particularly private, like logging into your bank account. 

If you connect to public wifi regularly, then use a good VPN (like Mysterium’s free VPN for Android) every time you need to connect to public wifi. 

Learn more about our free VPN. It was the world’s first decentralized VPN, too.

Time to clean up your act!

Get hack-proof best cybersecurity tips

Get hack-proof best cybersecurity tips

Ecoin and the rise of corporate cryptocurrency: Did Mr Robot get it right?

Is Mr Robot a glimpse into our tech-onomic future?

The internet’s favourite fictional Robin Hood (Elliot Alderson) – the guy who showed us why to use a VPN, has finally hung up his hoodie, forcing us to return to our own parallel reality. 

For those who have not yet plugged into Mr Robot (using a dVPN?), the series follows hacktivist group “fsociety” who are on a mission to take down conglomerate E Corp and consequently erase the world’s debt. 

The narrative picks apart some of society’s deepest flaws – including the growing divide between the top 1% and 99% at the hands of modern capitalism – with philosophical intensity.

It tells us the world’s financial and corporate structures as made of glass. The hammer that can shatter them to pieces is made of code, clever social engineering and anarchism. 

And with most systems already migrated to the digital realm, just one man and his keyboard can bring a global powerhouse to its knees. 

Back in the real world, hackers launched a ransomware attack against Travelex, the foreign currency company. The hack has crippled their worldwide systems, forcing their stores, airport counters and exchange services offline and leaving customers stranded.

Life imitating art? 

Mr Robot predicts a haunting future for our tech-dependant society based on these very real events; the modern-day revolution is digital, technology is the weapon, and everyday people are still the casualties. One of the many reasons why to use a VPN.

Related: What is happening to our internet? And can we even stop it?

Cash is dead

The world economy falls apart following fsociety’s 5/9 hack against E Corp’s global banking network. The CEO swiftly launches a new digital currency for its clients and millions of customers, a substitute for fiat cash.

There are blunt negotiations with the US Treasury Secretary, who is asked to endorse Ecoin as a government-sanctioned currency before the population turns to the alternative – Bitcoin. 

“The problem here is hard cash is fading, rapidly. That’s just the way of the world right now and Bitcoin is spreading, and if Bitcoin takes over we are all in a world of hell…

With “Ecoin” we control the ledger, and the mining servers, We are the Authority. I will make sure you have visibility into every single wallet that is open, every loan, every transaction. You want to regulate it, be my guest… I’ll give you backdoors, side doors, tracers, whatever you want.”

Is this propagandist, American corporate dream already filtering into our financial system? 

The battle against Bitcoin

For anyone familiar with the origins of Bitcoin, they’ll understand that Ecoin is a violation of everything it stands for. 

As the original and most popularised cryptocurrency, Bitcoin is a virtual currency that is issued, managed and used by everyday people. 

Emerging out of the wreckage of the global 2008 financial crisis, it promised a new monetary system that could help people stay afloat as our economies are sunk by corporate greed and government corruption. 

Termed as “the internet of money”, cryptocurrencies shift the value we assign to cash to a digital form that is as fast and borderless, yet more secure than encrypted messaging. It moves throughout a trustless, decentralized network and is secured by a technology known as blockchain. Anyone can take part and help maintain a public blockchain. 

Yet cryptocurrency – and its underlying technology – is already being hijacked by governments and businesses the world over. 

Stranger than fiction? Ecoin already exists.

While extreme libertarians designed the blockchain to decentralize government and corporate power, some fear it could consolidate it instead, undermining cryptocurrency’s anti-capitalist aspirations.

“The same hype driving cryptocurrency speculation has also attracted banks, governments, and corporations—exactly the authorities it was designed to circumvent.” – Ian Bogost, The Atlantic 

Years after Mr Robot premiered its “cash is fading” monologue and postulated Ecoin, JP Morgan announced the creation of JPM Coin, its own digital currency.

As a global lender, JP Morgan moves more than $6 trillion around the world every single day, and they want to move their infrastructure to a company-managed blockchain to instantly settle payments between their clients.  Once launched, JPM Coin will be the first blockchain-based currency issued by a major U.S. bank. 

Facebook too has joined the cryptocurrency party with their infamous Libra Coin, “potentially shaping the already vast powers of the Silicon Valley giants into a borderless, unaccountable techno-oligarchy.” 

With over 2.4 billion monthly active users, Facebook could become the largest (pseudo) bank in the world. 

There are countless other crypto-inspired initiatives being researched or launched by governments – RSCoin in the UK, Venezuela’s Petro, Iran’s Central Bank, The Public Bank of China, Senegal

But cryptocurrency that lives on a permissioned ledger – a privately-run or corporately managed blockchain – centralizes control, removing its democratic, privacy-preserving nature, and therefore any hopes of social and financial empowerment for the individual. 

Money is already seized by governments and banks habitually. Pair this with an ability to continuously monitor, track and block your entire life savings, and your control is complete. This would complement China’s political and economic strategies, which are centred around state-control and anti-privacy measures – such as their social credit system

Sovereign and corporate cryptocurrencies cannot really be considered cryptocurrencies at all. They abandon the integrity of blockchain technology’s breakthrough design; its in-built trustlessness, transparency and immutability. 

With banks, governments and businesses, nothing changes – they control the chain and the currency, from its supply and distribution to its inflation rate and pegged value.

For the hacktivist that lives in all of us...

So Mr Robot got it right. 

In a world where we are being sold the illusion of economic progress, how can we claim back cryptocurrency for ourselves? 

We can start by supporting open-source projects who are building on public blockchain architecture. We can educate ourselves about the non-speculative value of cryptocurrency (and how to use and store it safely). And we can start experimenting with a range of decentralized applications that give its users control while honouring their privacy and autonomy. 

Related: Why use a VPN? And how is a dVPN different?

Our dVPN is a blend of all these things – and more. 

For many of us, the internet is a place to freely roam. But many online citizens are trapped behind digital walls, stopping the free flow of ideas, voices and truths. 

We are building a new online era, democratising the web itself so that it’s free and open for all. Our peer to peer network powers its own VPN while laying the foundations for the new Web 3.0. Everyday web users become nodes to protect you against censorship, surveillance and cybercrime and get paid in cryptocurrency for it. Anyone can become a node to help us fight the good fight. 

There are many exciting other projects out there also trying to make this new online world a reality. 

Related: dVPN Comparison 2020. See emerging privacy-centric technologies and how they differ.

But the revolution starts with you. Will you claim back the internet? 

Join the Mysterium Army and download our free dVPN for Android.

Decentralised VPN (dVPN) Comparison 2020

dvpn comparison

Decentralised VPN (dVPN) Comparison

The following is a continually dVPN comparison is a resource tracking the differences between emerging decentralised virtual privacy networks in the market.

Last updated: 19 May 2020

If you would like to see an additional dVPN compared here, please do get them to reach out to us, we’d love to continue to develop this as an educational resource for end-users to make educated decisions on their digital lives.

Related: Tor vs VPN vs dVPN – what are the differences?

Network Design

Mysterium Network

A global collection of nodes power a VPN network by sharing bandwidth P2P in exchange for cryptocurrency.

Users can easily become a node and also download the free VPN app to select from a global menu of IP addresses/bandwidth providers.

Orchid

VPN users connect to bandwidth sellers (nodes) using a directory. Node providers stake tokens to advertise these services.

Users install the Orchid VPN, add OXT to their wallet, and can then access the internet through their preferred path (single or multi-hop).

Sentinel

P2P VPN network also functioning as an SDK. Allows anybody to become a “resource node” by selling their unutilized computing resources in the marketplace.

Users mask their Internet traffic through a series of nodes.

VPN

A global VPN service which can provide Dedicated IP address, Double VPN, Onion Over VPN and connection to the Tor anonymity network. 

As well as dedicated data centre servers around the world, centralized VPNs also allow P2P traffic on certain servers  – there are hundreds of them in different locations around the world, optimized for file sharing.

How are nodes incentivised or rewarded?

Mysterium Network

Pilot program
Monthly bounties for UK, US, Italian and German participants, earning up to $600 in ETH per year. Only an email and IP address is required.

P2P payment network
(coming soon)
Nodes set their own price based on supply and demand. This unique micropayments system utilises cryptocurrency payments, so nodes can sell their bandwidth in small intervals, ensuring security and convenience.

Orchid

Stake-weighting
Anyone can operate an Orchid Node, but must first stake (lock up as collateral) the native OXT cryptocurrency. The more OXT that is staked, the more traffic they can receive, and the greater the chances of reward in the Network.

Orchid uses an advanced payments architecture known as probabilistic nanopayments for per-packet network payments.

Sentinel

Resource Nodes can earn the native $SENT token in return for contributing network bandwidth and other resources by hosting a Service Node for the dVPN Service.

VPN

Nodes are not incentivized in centralized VPNs as these businesses own the infrastructure and charge end users for the service.

Node Onboarding

Mysterium Network

Anyone can run a node using their computer, mining equipment or compatible hardware such as a Raspberry Pi. Link your node to your Ethereum wallet address via an easy to use dashboard, My.Mysterium.Network to track your earnings.

No staking is required to be a node – sign up is free.

Orchid

Anyone can run a node by signing up to the stake registry and provider directory on the blockchain.

However, all new nodes must purchase and stake OXT to start receiving traffic.

Sentinel

Running a node requires technical knowledge of how to install a docker and configure a node. At present there is no user-friendly dashboard or application for download.

VPN

No need to onboard. By paying for the service, users get access to the VPN service, but do not help power it.

Costs & fees

Mysterium Network

While on testnet, the VPN is currently free to use.

Once live, users will pay in cryptocurrency for only the bandwidth they consume on a pay-per-use model.

Nodes pay no fees and earn cryptocurrency directly from users of this VPN service.

Orchid

Users pay for the bandwidth in OXT.

Nodes pay OXT to advertise their services.

Sentinel

Using their on-chain, inbuilt ‘Token Swap’ feature, users can privately purchase $SENT tokens to access any service on the Sentinel network.

Running a node is free.

VPN

Monthly subscription model, rather than a pay-as-you-go structure. Users get access to a VPN service where they can select from IP addresses based all over the world to suit their browsing needs.

VPN Security

Mysterium Network

Layered protection protocols built to protect any individual or organization. Mysterium is a fast and scalable transport security layer to reinvent privacy via VPN. Traffic is encrypted and sharded into separate pieces, filtered in an unrecognisable form through the distributed node network — without the possibility of being traced or censored.

Orchid

Users can select single- or multi-hop onion routed circuits by selecting nodes randomly weighted on stake and filtered by price, location, etc. A single hop route has the benefits of a normal VPN connection, creating a tunnel to route your traffic over a public network or your ISP, while a multi-hop connection provides additional privacy benefits by securing your network data from any one provider.

Sentinel

Swixer is Sentinel’s first utility that allows anybody to simply convert their cryptocurrency tokens online while keeping their data away from prying eyes.

User’s privacy is enhanced by Swixer’s cross-chain swaps between the Ethereum chain and other blockchains which possess a working zero-knowledge protocol or privacy layer within the protocol.

VPN

Traditional VPN services route all users’ internet traffic through a remote server, hiding IP addresses and encrypting all incoming and outgoing data. For encryption, they use the OpenVPN and Internet Key Exchange v2/IPsec technologies in their applications.

One company admits their servers were hacked due to an expired internal private key being exposed, potentially allowing anyone to spin out their own servers imitating their own.

Logging policy

Mysterium Network

no logs! Mysterium protocol removes any technical possibility for collecting or storing logs centrally.

Orchid

No logs.

Sentinel

No logs.

VPN

In theory, a centralized VPN *could* keep logs, but most state they are committed to a zero-logs policy.

Node Security

Mysterium Network

Mysterium allows users to select whitelisted traffic only, designed to protect nodes. However nodes can choose to accept any kind of traffic and increase their earning potential. They’ll soon identify and block bad actors from the network through the use of registered identities and reputation system.

Orchid

Users can prevent certain kinds of attacks from malicious exit nodes by using a default exit node whitelist consisting of trusted VPN partners. Users can use their own whitelists, and eventually well known third parties will emerge as whitelist curators.

Sentinel

Sentinel is developing a relay network, where participants in the network can choose to be a relay or an exit node on which encrypted tunnels traffic between the VPN paid user and an exit node.

It will also involve the use of governance nodes which will dictate path of packet transmission between user and exit node.

VPN

Nodes are protected as the centralized VPN assumes all security and legal risks.

Ease of Use

Mysterium Network

VPN is a simple to use and free desktop or mobile application.

New nodes can get set up in just 5 minutes and 5 steps via a simple, user-friendly dashboard. There is a knowledgebase and support team on hand to help.

Users will need to have some basic understanding of cryptocurrency and must have an Ethereum wallet set up to receive payments.

Learn more about upcoming features.

Orchid

VPN app designed for mobile and desktop. People wishing to be nodes must register and have some prior knowledge of cryptocurrency and staking.

Sentinel

Sentinel is not user-friendly and is better suited to more technically proficient users or those intuitive with Ethereum DApps and blockchain platforms.

VPN

Smart algorithms automatically select the best VPN server for you based on location, loads, or your special requirements.

They also have a dedicated support team.

Scalability

Mysterium Network

As with most P2P infrastructure, the more participants which join the network, the stronger and more robust it becomes.

Mysterium’s micropayments system is a homegrown Layer 2 solution. It was built to handle large volumes of users and transactions, making the network faster and more scalable.

Orchid

Orchid uses a probabilistic payment system which scales to millions of transactions per second, enabling a highly liquid bandwidth market without a trusted central party.

Sentinel

Sentinel’s “multi-chain architecture” secures data exchange between people and both centralized and decentralized applications meaning. This is meant to solve problems with infrastructure and scaling.

VPN

Depends on high bandwidth throughput and fast connection speeds to provide an optimal service for their users. Often use multiple tunneling protocols to ensure their network can scale and can adapt to various needs.

Social following

Mysterium Network

11.3K Twitter Followers

2000 Medium Followers

2088 Telegram Members

Orchid

27.1 K Twitter Followers

235 Medium Followers

4381 Telegram Members

Sentinel

3,392 Twitter Followers

336 Medium Followers

2946 Telegram Members

VPN

Not applicable.

Compatible with

Mysterium Network

Android, Mac, Windows, Linux.

Orchid

iOS, Android, Mac, Linux, and (soon) Windows.

Sentinel

Mac, Windows, Linux, Android.

VPN

Android, Windows, Mac, iOS, Chrome/Firefox extension, Linux.

Decentralised?

Mysterium Network

You bet.

Orchid

Of course.

Sentinel

Of course.

VPN

Nope. Decentra-what?

Network status

Mysterium Network

Testnet live – 900 residential nodes, with more than 300 live at any given point.

Orchid

Between five and 10 node providers at launch, including players from both the traditional VPN world and “new entrants from the crypto space.”

Sentinel

83 nodes in the network, with an average of 28 at any time

VPN

Choose from over 5200 servers in 59 countries.

Also – several cases of being hAcKEd

Open Source?

Mysterium Network

Transparent and collaborative from Ground Zero – check out Myst codebase.

Orchid

Duh. Everything to see here.

Sentinel

Yep. Peek under the hood here.

VPN

No – centralized VPNs are proprietary and closed source.

What is Mysterium Network?

Mysterium Network is one of several emerging networks enabling decentralisation of the internet. Find out how you can contribute by running a node. Or download our dVPN and give it a whirl.

Related: Tor vs VPN vs dVPN – what are the differences?

What is geoblocking? How does it impact free speech (movies) online?

what is geoblocking

We’ve all been there; “this content is unavailable in your country.” 

What is geoblocking? For many, geoblocking is an everyday inconvenience. For others, it’s a disguised form of censorship. This widely accepted practice allows companies to restrict access to their service based purely on your location. 

While this is generally for the sake of copyright and basic economics, in some extreme cases, it’s a violation of our human rights – such as the right to access information freely.

Related: How does anonymity work in a surveillance era?

What is geofencing

When the internet turns against you

Just imagine if the next time you went out to see a movie, you and your fellow viewers were each charged different ticket prices depending on your nationality. This is essentially what’s at play with geoblocking – location-based discrimination. And it’s happening to you every time you shop, stream or browse online. 

From Apple to small ecommerce stores, businesses the world over are varying their prices based on what they expect you to afford. Prices may even change depending on what time of day it is or the temperature outside. The digital economy has made it easy for companies to collect this data, later used to exploit your spending habits or socio-economic status. Even if you’re just a few suburbs apart, what price you pay may be vastly different to someone else in your own city. 

Last year, laws were introduced by the Council of the European Union to protect consumers from this kind of discrimination “based on customers’ nationality, place of residence or place of establishment.”

And while these anti-geoblocking regulations may be one initiative for tearing down these digital walls, there’s little to get excited about. These regulations only apply to businesses selling goods and services, but not online content more broadly. And ultimately, it’s up to the governments of its member states to enforce – so it might as well be optional. 

Yes, much of geoblocking comes down to basic economics. But the web was not designed to be segmented this way. It was designed to create a global village, where a user in Tibet had precisely the rights and opportunities as someone in Toronto. In an age where we’re supposedly more equal and connected than ever before, it’s a shame we can’t do better.

We’re still a long way from the equalized cyber utopia the internet promised us in the nineties.

Related: What happened to the internet? A deep dive into internet censorship and how it works.

can you geoblock facebook

Copyright, or wrong?

Some films and TV shows costs hundreds of millions to make. To their producers, these pieces of content are considered investments, which we help pay off everytime we pay to watch them. 

But digital piracy has become a huge problem worldwide, taking a huge cut out of their studio’s profits. Tens of billions of visits were made to media piracy sites worldwide in 2018 alone. If you can watch movies online for free, then why would you pay to see it in the cinema, or subscribe to a streaming service?

This unfortunate trend means the lifecycle of these films become shorter once they leave the cinema. In response, studios have begun selling their movies through on-demand streaming services like Apple’s iTunes store and Amazon Prime. These platforms can also sell ad space, milking more money out of their advertising space. 

But every market demands different content. What is a hit in some parts of the world is a flop in others. And with so much money at stake each time a film is created, studios enforce strict copyright laws to ensure they maximise the return on their investment. Each content-deal is carefully negotiated by territory. Studios charge outlets like Netflix far more to offer certain titles in some countries than others. This is why geoblocking has become such an effective method for honouring these copyright laws and agreements. 

Yet in today’s attention economy, the ultimate goal is to get as many eyes on a piece of content as possible. The more eyes, the more content can claim to be worth in ad revenue. If you geoblock something that a customer is willing to pay for with their potentially undivided attention, you may be sabotaging a potential revenue stream. This kind of thinking is surprisingly alien to those stuck in the ages of traditional television.

In fact, reports suggest that removing “unjustified geoblocking…could foster growth and increase consumer choice throughout the internal market.”

what is geoblocking

Free streaming - or freedom of speech?

Geoblocking is an inconvenience for those of us fortunate enough to access most content online. In some parts of the world, its use is far more sinister. Governments are even forcibly removing content from streaming services to aid their political agendas. 

In Turkey, for example, streaming services were previously allowed to operate outside the country’s censorship rules. But since September, every streaming service will now have to apply for a license which complies with government enforced internet regulation. The aim is to inhibit dissent, in all its digital forms. 

Content providers must now “navigate different political and moral landscapes” as calls for censorship expand worldwide. With a flick of a switch, businesses can willingly convene with oppressive regimes to prevent free access to information. Geoblocking has no longer become a method for business, but a veiled form of censorship. 

Our constant battle for free speech has become more obvious in the digital world. The open sharing of ideas built the privileged world we live in. Companies should be encouraging, not hindering, the flow of cultural and artistic exports around the world. In fact, this 2018 annual SEC report lists both censorship and “the need to adapt content… for specific cultural and language differences” as a commercial risk for these entertainment businesses.   

But more importantly, if we shelter society from alternative or diverse ways of thinking, we risk a cultural vacuum where nothing is challenged or changed. If censorship had its way, the civil rights movement would never have happened and we may still be convinced that the Sun orbits the Earth

freedom of speech online

The bird is the not the word

Geoblocking can also serve as a tool of government oppression, putting a chokehold on democracy. A prominent example is Turkey, where the government demanded that Twitter withhold hundreds of accounts affiliated with voices opposing the current regime.  

Similar injustices included blocking Twitter entirely just two weeks before the 2014 general election, and later again in the wake of a coup attempt against the Turkish president.

In his words;

Related: What is the splinternet, and how can decentralisation stitch it back together?

We’ll eradicate Twitter. I don’t care what the international community says. Everyone will witness the power of the Turkish Republic.

Situations like these, in many ways, say more about the alarming power of the big media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter than anything else. They’ve become as influential as a utility company. When paired with an unscrupulous government, the internet’s potential for fostering free, diverse discourse is starting to dwindle.  

When it comes to protecting free speech and human rights, the internet has the ability to be the world’s superhero.  

But this kind of geoblocking, and censorship more generally, is very much now the kryptonite slowly killing this hope.

what is geoblocking

Help us sink the Censorship - the power of the free VPN

It’s unlikely that governments and media platforms will support an open internet. If we’re to figure out this mess, our only hope is to find our own ways of circumventing unethical geoblocking and creating an internet that we all deserve. 

The world is well aware of this too. In fact, one quarter of the world has used a VPN in the last month. Looking at the leading markets of VPN usage, Asia Pacific leads the demand. This is closely followed by countries such as Turkey and Saudi Arabia (no surprises there). Wherever there is high tech and low freedom, demand for VPNs blossom. 

In today’s world VPNs are essential for online security and privacy. But the risks that occur with your typical VPN are more apparent than ever.

Related: VPN vs Tor. What is the difference? And can you use them both? 

Enter the decentralized VPN. While your typical centralized VPN will merely morph your current IP address into a new one, a decentralized VPN uses layered protection protocols to hide both your identity and location from any geoblockers or prying eyes. Doing this adds an extra layer of security and privacy; previously one’s only option was for our identities to pass through a centralized VPN, having them store our information in the process. This process meant that our identities were, all too often, protected by unreliable security measures

When you use a decentralized VPN, the service is powered entirely by other web users like you. Each person can rent out their IP address and bandwidth to others in this P2P network and earn 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.

Related: dVPN comparison – an online resource comparing emerging decentralised virtual private networks. 

The more nodes that join help increase the network’s speed and efficiency. So by simply offering up your spare bandwidth, you enable fellow Mysterium users to browse freely, avoiding geoblockers and every other force that quashes a free and open internet.

 The more nodes we run, the freer and more private our online lives become. It’s that simple.

We already have 812 nodes in our network and we’re growing fast. Check out our network dashboard to see all our nodes around the world

Find out if you’re eligible to become a node get paid for your excess internet.