Category

payments

Power of the “d” – A Comparison of Decentralized VPNs (dVPN)

Network Design

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.

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).

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.

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?

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.

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.

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.

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

Node Onboarding

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.

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.

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.

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

Costs & fees

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.

Users pay for the bandwidth in OXT.

Nodes pay OXT to advertise their services.

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.

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

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.

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.

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.

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

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

No logs.

No logs.

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

Node Security

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.

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 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.

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

Ease of Use

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.

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

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

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

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 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’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.

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

11.3K Twitter Followers

2000 Medium Followers

2088 Telegram Members

27.1 K Twitter Followers

235 Medium Followers

4381 Telegram Members

3,392 Twitter Followers

336 Medium Followers

2946 Telegram Members

Not applicable.

Compatible with

Android, Mac, Windows, Linux.

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

Mac, Windows, Linux, Android.

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

Decentralised?

You bet.

Of course.

Of course.

Nope. Decentra-what?

Network status

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

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

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

Choose from over 5200 servers in 59 countries.

Also – several cases of being hAcKEd

Open Source?

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

Duh. Everything to see here.

Yep. Peek under the hood here.

No – centralized VPNs are proprietary and closed source.

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.

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

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