Category

decentralised vpn

MYST, migration and mainnet – what you need to know

We are fast approaching the official launch of Mysterium Network. This will be the realisation of our founding whitepaper and the crowning of our world-first peer to peer VPN. 

In preparation, the network will undergo some big technical updates and transitions. This includes an upgrade of our native token MYST, which is a core component of Mysterium and which keeps the network sustainable, secure and permissionless.

Read our blog about our unofficial launch timeline and breakdown of how we’re taking Mysterium global. 

What is MYST?

MYST is a utility token (a type of cryptocurrency) at the heart of Mysterium Network. It acts like digital fuel, serving various functions and keeps the network humming along.

Transfer of value – MYST is used as the network’s native currency. If you’re using the VPN (consumer) you will pay using MYST. If you’re a node (provider of the VPN service) you will receive MYST. While additional tokens could be introduced in the future, this is the network’s reserve currency and standard for the time being. 

Identity registration – when you first sign up for the network, you will need a little MYST so you can receive and verify your unique identity. The registration is processed as a transaction, so it’s permanently “on-chain”. Once you receive your unique ID/address, you can start to receive and send payments. By committing a little financially, this proves you have skin in the game. It’s also designed to prevent lots of people signing up for free and creating spam accounts, which will help protect the network against DDoS attacks. 

Staking – nodes (providers) should stake MYST (lock it up as collateral) to prove they are even more committed to the network’s longevity and success (even more skin in the game). Staking is particularly necessary due to how our P2P payment infrastructure works (more on this in below sections). While nodes can start providing their service even with 0 tokens at stake, a stake of at least 12 MYST must eventually be committed. If the user doesn’t stake anything at first, the stake will be accumulated and collected automatically by the network over time as they provide ongoing value and continue to earn. The network will take 10% from each settled payment until the full 12 MYST is received.

Why use cryptocurrency?

Mysterium Network is a decentralised system, meaning its users can be located anywhere around the globe. These systems are also designed so that all users can be anonymous. As a censorship-resistant and anonymous virtual currency, cryptocurrency provides a way for all these participants to interact and trade with one another without trust and without third parties being involved (permissionless). 

While we could have used other (or even more popular) cryptocurrencies for payments within Mysterium, we needed an in-built protection mechanism for the network’s many different actors. MYST is not just used for payments – as a token unique to our system, it’s a representation of your active involvement and intention to participate within Mysterium Network. In this way, MYST enables more than just P2P payments. When network actors have skin in the game, they help increase the overall security of the network, protecting against various types of attacks. It also establishes a community around a purpose, so the network can grow and evolve with its token holders. 

This also gives us the flexibility to use MYST over several blockchains in the future (e.g. similar to Tether).

Hermes protocol, our P2P payments infrastructure

Mysterium Network is a peer-to-peer VPN service, made up of consumers and providers. For us to remain a permissionless network, we need to ensure that all payments must also be peer to peer. This will be facilitated by the Hermes Protocol, our unique infrastructure we designed to enable fast, frequent micropayments on a global scale. 

In brief, it creates payment channels (a special type of smart contracts) between network participants (consumers and providers) and a selected Hermes hub during their registration. Hermes will verify “payment promises” made by consumers to nodes and smart contracts will ensure that tokens are calculated correctly and are safe. Instead of users constantly paying nodes in high volumes (by doing expensive blockchain transactions), consumers can make “promises” to providers, similar to IOUs. When providers (node runners) decide they want to settle (get a payout) their income, the final tallied record is executed on the blockchain and sent as a single transaction. 

Related: Learn more about how micropayments works in Mysterium Network

Additionally, providers (node runners) must stake a certain amount of collateral. While you can stake nothing at the start, as described above, you can stake any amount of MYST to guarantee the size of your payment channel. This will be the amount of tokens you can earn before settling your earned token and confirming this final tally on the blockchain. It will also guarantee faster withdrawal of these payments sent to your personal wallet. 

EXAMPLE: I run a node and want to provide the VPN service. I stake 20 MYST to open up a payment channel with the network’s smart contract. This ensures that consumers in the network can start using my service, and I will keep earning MYST until I reach my staked amount of 20. When I’ve reached my maximum, I have to settle them into my ethereum wallet (ethereum will charge a transaction fee). After that, I can keep earning MYST again until I reach my channel limit and will have to settle again. If I will decide to stop providing services on Mysterium Network, I can get my initial 20 MYST stake back.

Here’s how it works in action:

  1. Use MYST to pay for your identity registration 
  2. If you’d like to use the VPN service, top up your account balance with MYST 

If you’d like to provide the VPN service, stake a certain amount of MYST tokens

  1. Consumers pay providers using “Payment Promises” (off-chain transactions)
  2. Providers can choose to cash-out these promises at any time

Staking is necessary for the function of payment channels. There needs to be an amount of tokens locked in a provider’s payment channel to keep it active and ensure that the smart contract can pay the amount corresponding to their Payment Promises. If your Payment Promise tally is higher than your tokens at stake, for example, then this could lead to a situation where there are not enough funds to pay you out. This protects users against the threat of double-spending. Similar locking tokens mechanisms are also implemented among other payment channel-based networks, such as Lightning Network, Lumino and Raiden. 

In the future, the staking component could change. Staking more MYST, and therefore having more skin in the game, opens up a few possibilities for loyal network participants. It could enable higher traffic (higher position in ranking = more users  = more income)   for providers, or even allocate a percentage cut of network transaction fees. 

What is token migration?

Migrating a token is simply to upgrade the smart contract of that token (its “standard”). In the case of Mysterium, we are migrating from the ERC-20 to the ERC-777 token standard. This is a 1:1 token migration so there will be no new tokens created. 

Why are we upgrading MYST?

Different smart contract token standards offer different functionalities. The ERC-20 standard is the oldest and most common standard, initially developed in 2015. However, this token standard has not aged well. For some time now, its limitations have been exposed as more complex smart contracts have emerged which offer more functionalities, and are therefore better suited for more use-cases.  The ERC-777 token standard was approved last year following collaborative, community-driven discussions that began in 2017. 

ERC777 is an extension of the ERC20 standard. This new standard brings greater benefits to Mysterium Network as it plays host to some important features and multiple quality of life improvements. It adds token receive hooks which are used in our payment system, enabling the auto-conversion of MYST to other tokens during settlement. This opens us up to all kinds of crypto communities, even alternative blockchains such as Bitcoin. It also reduces the number of transactions required for the registration of a Mysterium ID, therefore reducing the cost of fees.

As we create more liquidity for the MYST token through its listing on various exchanges, we also require a full audit of the token. With an ERC777 MYST token, we will perform an audit with aims to also reinforce trust in its security.

How will token migration work?

At the end of July, MYST token holders will be able to start migrating their tokens into the new token standard. This will become the standard MYST token used within Mysterium Network’s payment system.

All exchanges are informed and are preparing for the upgrade on their end. If you are holding MYST on exchanges such as HitBTC, the migration will be done automatically and you will not need to do anything. While the token migration is planned for the end of July, it may take some days for exchanges to complete the upgrade, so please keep this in mind. Trading inside exchanges is unaffected by this migration.

For those who have the technical capacity and knowledge to conduct the migration themselves, our developer tooling will be available. Taking a DIY approach, users will be able to use our custom tooling to migrate their own tokens. We will publish written and video tutorials on our website in advance, so check back for updates. 

While there will be no time limit for migrating tokens, please be aware that only the new token standard will be used in the Mysterium Network payment system and actively traded on exchanges. 

However, you will not lose your original MYST tokens if you do not migrate within a specific deadline. This means you can perform your token migration at a convenient time to you.

Your wallets which are supporting only ERC20 tokens will work fine with MYST token.

Our token will support both ERC20 and ERC777 interfaces. This means that any wallet which supports ERC20 can be used to hold MYST token.

We’ll be publishing more important details in the weeks ahead. In the meantime, join our Discord channel and download the app for Android, Windows or Mac to get a taste of the free version before we move to the pay as you go model.

The Launch of Mysterium Network

Our mainnet release has been two years in the making. Here’s how we go from 0 to 1.

We are fast approaching the official launch of Mysterium Network. This will be the realisation of our founding whitepaper and the crowning of our world-first, peer to peer VPN. 

The past few years have been spent building technology from scratch. We had an idea, but no blueprint for it. This means solving riddles in a backwards way; we only know the answers, but not which questions to ask. 

But after three years of building, breaking, and questioning, it’s time to release Mysterium Network into the wild. 

Here we share our official launch timeline and breakdown how we’re taking Mysterium global.  

 

Read our blog about the role our native token MYST will play in keeping the whole network running, and its planned upgrade from an ERC20 to an ERC777 token. 

What is Mainnet?

Mysterium Network is currently running on its own testnet (has no real payments on the “live” blockchain). This BETA process has helped us to test our product in parallel network conditions and configurations. After a couple of years in this development stage, we have been able to refine, iterate and learn invaluable lessons along the way.

Now we’re ready to finally launch on the mainnet Ethereum. First, we will transition onto the Ethereum Goerli testnet to stress test our P2P payments. Once we’ve monitored and are satisfied with the results, our network will then plug into the mainnet (the “actual” blockchain) with the peer to peer payments system built into the protocol. 

How will the launch work?

The release on mainnet will happen in 3 stages, and during this time several network forks will occur. We understand that this will be difficult for node runners as it will create a temporary state where the app and nodes may run on different networks. This is an unfortunate and inevitable pain we must go through as a community. We will work to make this transition as smooth as possible for both node runners and users. 

Stage ONE (Middle of July): 

  • We will first issue some newly upgraded MYST (ERC777) token on Goerli testnet. We will also upgrade the payment system to prepare it for the Ethereum Mainnet launch. This will create the first network fork.
  • Following this, the ERC777 tokens will be deployed on Ethereum mainnet and token migration will begin for MYST ERC20 token holders. We are aiming for the end of July.

Stage TWO (Middle of August):

  • Mysterium payment system smart contracts will be deployed on Ethereum Mainnet. New discovery, transactor and Hermes services will also be deployed. This will cause the launch of a parallel network (beta net). Not all users will be required to switch into it. And our official dvpn and node apps will still be using testnet. 
  • On betanet transactions will be done on Ethereum mainnet but we will still be using MYSTT test token. No MYST token usage at this stage yet.
  • The Mysterium Node Pilot will not apply for betanet users, but it will be possible to convert MYSTT token into MYST tokens using our special “MiniDEX” smart contract. 

Stage THREE (Middle of September): 

  • We’ll release 1.0 version of nodes and mainnet ready dvpn apps which will begin using and accepting MYST token. This will introduce a 3rd network fork. There are no further forks planned or anticipated after this stage.
  • The Mysterium Referral program launches, bringing consumers and paid traffic into the network.

What changes for nodes?

During the second stage, the node registration process will be changed. 

Currently, users can plug in a Raspberry Pi, which is “found” by the host My.Mysterium.Network. Users turn their Pis into nodes and become a part of Mysterium Network. We will introduce a new onboarding flow. This includes setting a beneficiary/payout wallet during first node run; setting your staking amount to determine your settlement thresholds and maximum amount of tokens during one withdrawal; create your own password; set the price that you’d like to offer your VPN service. Only once the above has been set up, nodes can start providing their services.

We’ll be publishing more important details in the weeks ahead. In the meantime, join our Discord channel and download the app for Android, Windows or Mac to get a taste of the free version before we move to the P2P payments model.

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

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 technology allows 2 devices (and therefore, two people) to communicate directly, without the necessitating a third party to ensure it happens. The technology has often been rejected and buried in the darker corners of our internet, 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 internet was ruled by the corporate letheans of today, it was once powered by the people who used it. This P2P internet meant that you and I 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, the file sharing giant which popularized P2P music. While you were downloading and sharing music 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. 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 model.

Servers store and control all this web information and resources in a centralized way. The biggest and most widely used servers are owned by internet companies like Google, Facebook and Amazon. These servers 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 internet resources and websites to clients, like you and me. 

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. 

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. Resources can be shared directly and distributed evenly among all nodes within the network. These sorts of decentralized networks use these shared resources more efficiently than a traditional network as they evenly distribute workloads between all nodes. Together they 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 can be P2P?

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

P2P networks often have characteristics that are missing from the internet today – trustless and permissionless, censorship-resistant, and often with built-in anonymity and privacy.

P2P file sharing – BitTorrent – sync-and-share 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 – Decentralized 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. 

P2P computing power – Golemdecentralized supercomputer that anyone can access. It is made up of the combined power of users’ machines.

P2P communicationSignal is perhaps 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 servers for encrypted messaging, 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 even been called “egalitarian” networks, as each peer is considered equal, with the same rights and duties as the others. 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 P2P 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 P2P Platforms

The theory of P2P network 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 Internet 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 file sharing. Users would search for songs or artists via a centralized index server, which catalogued songs located on every computer’s hard drive connected to the network. Users could download a personal copy while also offering their own stored files.

Napster Super Bowl XXXIX Ad “Do The Math”

Napsters experiential marketing tactics during the 2004 super bowl, when they moved to a 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 internet – 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 transitions, we also become their hired workforces without even realising it. This business model relies upon our supplyint our own homes, cars and time to create the sharnig economy, while they simply facilitate it to happen. 

With P2P systems, we can remove them from the picture altogether. If we decentralize the sharing economy, you become the user, the host and the network itself. As peers, we are incentivised to contribute time, 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 Internet-based 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 P2P to power those daily interactions took much of a backseat as the internet started to take off in the early 2000’s. While protocols of the early internet were founded upon decentralized and peer-to-peer mechanisms, centralized alternatives eventually took over.

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

Yet since centralized 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 P2P undermines the very foundations of traditional government structures. 

In 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, centralized 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. 

P2P 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 client-server-based applications which formed in the early 1980s “can no longer fully meet the evolving requirements of the Internet. In particular, their centralized 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, such as economic systems, 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). It’s democratic and self-governing architecture distributes the workload and depends upon community participation. There are no centralised servers, but instead peers (nodes) each store and maintain the updated record of its current state. 

In the same way, anyone can be a part of a decentralised VPN. Your computer becomes a node, acting as a miniature server. This means it can help power the entire network by directly sharing its internet resources, such as 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, and this P2P access marketplace can serve 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 Mac and Android, currently free before our full launch in the coming weeks.

Mysterium Network May 2020 Product Update

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 MacOS and let us know what you think.

The past month at Mysterium has seen us ramp up efforts as we prepare for our summer mainnet launch. 

With our mainnet launch, we are making strides towards our goal of building a peer to peer incentivised system. During our launch, we will release Hermes protocol – micropayments infrastructure for dVPN – onto Ethereum blockchain. Hermes protocol is exciting for us, as it will power our network of nodes and allow end-users to pay nodes directly without us functioning as intermediaries. 

Hermes protocol is going to power a distributed, incentivised network of users and VPN service providers. We’re building it into the dVPN application so that the user journey is as seamless as possible. We’re putting the final touches on the technology, and will soon start making noise (with your help) to spread the word about Mysterium through a referral program. More news on this coming soon.

Some key updates from the development team:

Mysterium VPN is going to migrate to WireGuard protocol
As a protocol, WireGuard®️ has proved faster, more stable and easier to develop as the foundation for Mysterium. WireGuard®️ is an open-source software and communication protocol for VPNs, creating secure point-to-point connections. Step by step, we’re slowly migrating it as our main protocol. Our upcoming versions of Android, macOS and Windows apps are only going to use the WireGuard®️ protocol. More details about this development approach will be released soon.

Check out our new macOS desktop app
We just launched our macOS desktop app. This means anyone with a Mac computer or MacBook can use the Mysterium dVPN to power an anonymous and uncensored web experience. Read more about our dVPN for Mac

Watch this space for a reintroduction of our Windows application
We will soon be releasing the dVPN for Windows too, which is currently in BETA. This will mean Mysterium can be used with all computers operating Windows – roughly 80% of the world’s computers today. We hope this will help kickstart Mysterium’s global journey.

Updates to Node Software
New version of node v0.34 was released recently. This version has a swift and seamless identity registration feature which is optimised for onboarding new users. This is especially important for our mainnet release, as blockchain transactions could take up to one hour to be confirmed. With our new registration system, users will be able to start using our VPN service in a matter of seconds.

New graphic user interfaces (GUIs), coming your way
We’re working on a new design for our web user interface. We will be sharing the design mockups with our community to get their feedback and to develop the best dVPN experience in the space.

In our next update, we will be much closer to our transition from the Ethereum Görli Testnet to Ethereum blockchain. Stay tuned for exciting 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. 

This summer, we’re excited to share with you Mysterium Network – a permissionless P2P network – three years in the making and the realisation of our founding whitepaper. 

In the meantime, try our free VPN for Android here and VPN for Mac here.

Introducing our decentralized VPN for Mac 🎉

Mysterium VPN app for Mac is now live.

This means anyone with a Mac computer or macbook can use the Mysterium dVPN to power an anonymous and uncensored web experience – all while rebuilding the web from the inside out.

Download the free VPN for Mac here.

Available for macOS versions 10.14+ and later

What is Mysterium VPN for Mac?

Mysterium dVPN is an anti-censorship, anti-surveillance tool. It is more similar to Tor network in its philosophy and infrastructure, but preserves the essential functions and ease of use of a VPN. You can easily connect to the Mysterium VPN and run it while browsing online, no matter where you are. This will protect yourself against cyberthreats and help you bypass firewalls and geoblocking. It’s free to install for a short time only, and its simple user interface helps you get started in minutes. 

Under the hood, Mysterium is very different to other VPNs for Mac. While regular VPNs connect you to servers owned or managed by businesses, our VPN is powered entirely by its users. Mysterium’s P2P, decentralized (distributed) network is made up of people all over the world who share their bandwidth and IP address with each other in exchange for crypto. So you can be in dVPN mode to use it, or in node mode to power it and earn. Note that you need to have a node set up to start earning in the network. You can learn how to become a node in our guide, and we’ve even made a dashboard for nodes which lets you track your earnings each day. 

Just like Tor, when you use the dVPN your encrypted traffic is sent throughout the network in an unrecognizable form. We also use various security protocols such as OpenVPN and WireGuard® to ensure the network is safe. The decentralized nature of our network means we can’t store logs centrally, even if we wanted to. 

What’s new with our VPN for Mac?

We added new features such as advanced filtering, auto-updates and a seamless onboarding experience. 

Advanced filtering allows you to select your connection type, country and even price. 

As with our Android app, you’ll be able to select from a dropdown menu of residential IP addresses located around the world. You can curate your VPN experience, unlocking content from countries based on your browsing needs.

The app also has an inbuilt in auto-update functionality, so you’ll always have the latest and best version. 

Our new onboarding process is fast and seamless, so you can register your identity (MystID) in a matter of seconds. Your identity is linked to a unique Ethereum address generated for you, where you can top up your MYSTT balance. MYSTT is our testnet version of our native MYST token. You can use MYSTT to activate the service and begin paying by the minute or amount of data transferred.

What’s coming next?

Mysterium wants to open up the internet to everyone, ensuring every web user has equal and secure access. We released our dVPN for Android last year, and have been working hard to make the Myst VPN compatible with all devices and systems. This new macOS release lays the foundation for our upcoming Windows version. Our user interface code is shared among platforms, so you’ll have the same experience across every device.

Discover our VPN for Mac

Mysterium Network 2020 Q1 round up

Mysterium is building a decentralised VPN. What is a VPN? And how is a dVPN different? Узнать больше.

Related: What is internet censorship? 

The last quarter for Mysterium Network has been an eventful one, to say the least. We grew our node network to an unprecedented scale, resulting in many adaptations and changes, especially to our bounty rules.

Related: The definitive guide to becoming a Mysterium Node

We have now pivoted our focus away from node acquisition and started working on various implementations of our decentralised VPN application to attract more users and businesses to the network. We also launched our first developer bounties, encouraging entrepreneurs and programmers to take advantage of our infrastructure and build new privacy-focused Web3 tools and products. 

As always, there has been an ongoing process of testing, learning and iterating.

how to build a vpn

Here are the latest updates from our team

First, a little info on our March release (v0.22):

  • We have added a “pay for traffic” functionality. This means all transactions made in the network are now paid ones. We also tested our micropayments system, using the “pay for time” feature. 
  • An even more advanced NAT hole punching was implemented. After this fix, about 80% of all nodes are able to work out of the box. This is an increase of 50% from previous implementations. 

 

What we achieved in April 

We released version 0.31 which introduces one big change and adds a couple of smaller enhancements:

  • P2P communication after establishing tunnel #1797
  • Providers should be able to set own price #1962
  • Store payout address on blockchain #2040

 

Developing the desktop dVPN app

We’re also actively working on a new desktop macOS dVPN app and are going to release the public BETA soon. You can see the progress of app development in this repo or watch related tasks here.

We also did some work towards reopening our Windows app. You can already download the Windows build and use it as a consumer via CLI. Building the Windows desktop dVPN app is our next task and we’re aiming to complete it by the end of May.

 

Refining our free (for now) dVPN Android app

Our latest version of the Android app is much more stable and should have much better connection times with nodes running v0.31.

By the end of May, we’re going to add more filtering options (e.g. by node IP type) and have some UI enhancements.

 

Fine-tuning our payments 

Thanks to our community, we have found many bugs in our payments implementation. Many of them are already fixed.

We’ve been testing our micropayments solution from the end of December 2019. During the last 4 months we implemented almost all the features of the Hermes protocol (our in-built payments solution) and are going to open source the code at the beginning of June. From then, the network will be able to operate with several Hermes hubs, as we aim to decentralise the network further. This will push us closer towards becoming a fully distributed network, launching on the Ethereum mainnet and utilising MYST as the major payment method.

 

The logic behind these releases

As we draw closer to mainnet, we have changed our release process. We have scheduled a couple of RC (release candidates) before our final release, with planned upgrades to the whole network. With this change we expect to have more stability and speed, with less things breaking with additional  minor releases (e.g. 0.22.1, 0.22.2 …).

 

Why are we jumping straight from 0.22 to 0.30?

In our last release we added a huge change, making communication between consumers and providers even more P2P, while avoiding centralised communication servers (such as our message broker service).

What's next?

We’re still working hard towards a mainnet release this Summer. This means you can use the P2P dVPN service, and earn when you rent your bandwidth to others. It will be the launch of our unique micropayments infrastructure which enables everyone in the network to pay and be paid in a secure, efficient and private way. It’s also an open invitation to developers who can see our open source code in action and would like to plug into our global node network to build some exciting new use cases themselves. 

You can already try our free VPN for Android here.

VPN for Android

What does a VPN do for anonymity in the surveillance era?

Is there such a thing as true anonymity anymore?

It is an interesting time in history to delve into the value of anonymity (and privacy). With a pandemic rampantly spreading through the world, we are seeing thoughtless relinquishing of both our physical and digital freedoms. Some are warning that increased surveillance during the coronavirus outbreak may lead to long-lasting erosion of civil liberties.

But how can we remove ourselves from an ‘Architecture of Oppression’ if it is being built around, by and for us?

In the original 1993 Cypherpunk Manifesto, Eric Hughes wrote that “privacy is necessary for an open society in the electronic age…” – Here he’s starting to address the concepts that will help us frame the answer to the question  “What does a VPN do?”, or rather “What should a VPN do”.

People have been defending their own privacy for centuries with whispers, darkness, envelopes, closed doors, secret handshakes, and couriers. The technologies of the past did not allow for strong privacy, but electronic technologies do.

Eric Hughes

Decades have passed, yet these “electronic technologies” have not brought the salvation that Hughes had hoped for. Technologies of the future seem to have taken away much of our privacy, instead of strengthening it. The internet is becoming less free, with increased online election interference and increased government surveillance “spreading on social media platforms”.

Related: What is happening to the internet? And what does VPN have to do with it?

The more we migrate our lives into the digital realm, the harder it becomes to control our privacy at all. The line between our private and public lives has become so blurred by technology, that the online representation of ourselves is often more intimate and more exposed than our real life personas.

A continuous and permanent catalogue of our lives is inscribed in the history of the internet forever. Your life is quite literally an open book.

We’ve been conditioned to hand over personal information to every platform or service we sign up to, or we are simply locked out of “the system”. We sacrifice more and more details about ourselves unnecessarily, so businesses can manipulate us into buying more things.

This underground trade of our personal data has been commercialised and, as with all valuable commodities, weaponised. The 2019 Freedom of the Net report revealed that of the 40 countries examined, 89 percent of internet users, or nearly 3 billion people, are subject to instituted and advanced social media surveillance programs.

Related: What does anonymity in a surveillance era look like?

“It’s Facebook’s ad policy that allows politicians to spread lies or Amazon’s growing relationships with police departments that use its Ring smart doorbells and associated social media products to surveil communities.

what does a vpn do

East meets West

China’s social credit system is a real life experiment of how our own personal data can be turned against us. Citizens are each given an identity number, all linked to a permanent record – one that expands “to all aspects of life, judging citizens’ behaviour and trustworthiness. Caught jaywalking, don’t pay a court bill, play your music too loud on the train — you could lose certain rights, such as booking a flight or train ticket.”

In the time of Coronavirus, this meticulous social control means that social credit-related regulations now “include spreading rumours that disrupt efforts to control the epidemic, hoarding, upsetting market order, making fake or poor quality masks and other medical supplies.” 

Yet in the West, the pervasive monitoring of our online behaviour – in the name of national security – means our online activity can be legally tracked by our ISPs and governments. While the technology still evolves, there are “no rules” when it comes to facial recognition, with police running pilot programs for real-time surveillance monitoring before the law has time to catch up with the ethics of it all. 

As the world turns digital, it’s more critical that our online identities, privacy and freedoms remain in our control. 

Privacy is a basic human right, and our digital privacy is an extension of that right. We are not detached from our online identities – just ask someone whose life has been destroyed by identity theft. 

No matter how much information we volunteer online, privacy should be the core foundation of a strong and open internet.

Anonymity

what does a vpn do

I don’t know why people are so keen to put their details of their private life in public; they forget that invisibility is a superpower.

Banksy

The fundamental difference between privacy and anonymity

There is an important distinction to be made between privacy and anonymity. Privacy keeps your behaviour and activity hidden, yet you can still be identified. An example is your private banking, where you can send and receive money but your financial transactions are only yours to see. The same applies to your emails, your social media profiles, your text messages – you remain identifiable, yet can choose what is shared and what is not.

what does a dvpn do

Anonymity is almost this concept in reverse. Being anonymous means your identity is hidden but your actions can be seen. Others can see what you do, just not who is doing it. Blockchains are pseudo-anonymous, meaning you can view every transaction that takes place, but should not be able to link an identity to the sender nor receiver. 

Anonymity tends to be stigmatised, as anonymous behaviour is often associated with illegal activity. The dark web has emerged, home to online black marketplaces such as Silk Road, whose creator is serving a life sentence in prison.

Silk Road was supposed to be about giving people the freedom to make their own choices, to pursue their own happiness, however they individually saw fit. [It] turned out to be a naive and costly idea that I deeply regret.

RossIn sentencing letter to his judge

But historically, anonymous figures have contributed much to society – artists, writers, journalists, political and human rights activists. Even superheroes are anonymous to protect themselves from evil villains and persistent ex-girlfriends. Banksy’s visual messages are louder and more profound because he refuses to let his identity hijack the narrative.

anticensorship vpn

Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth.

Oscar Wilde

Anonymity enables this freedom of expressions and speech. It means you can speak your mind without retribution. It means you can whistleblow and expose corruption in its darkest corners. It means a free press, where newspapers can investigate and publish without fear of being persecuted

It also means hate speech and cyberbullying is harder to control, but this is the double edged sword we must accept in the ongoing battle for free and open discourse.

An idea can be the most powerful thing in the world

For many in heavily censored regions, to be anonymous simply means to be free. 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.”

The UN urges the protection of anonymous expression online. To evade the grasp of “broad and intrusive government surveillance”, we must defend the online privacy and digital autonomy of human rights activists, journalists and silenced citizens. This includes “freedom from surveillance, the right to use encryption, the right to online anonymity, the right to online protest”.

Despite these universal efforts to promote human rights in the online environment, it appears that policy is not a cure. Over a quarter (27%) of the world’s internet users live in places where they can be arrested for posting, sharing or even “liking” something on Facebook. Social-media related arrests relating to political, social, or religious speech have been made in 47 countries. WIth true anonymity, words can be used to liberate people, not used against them. You can’t put ideas in prison. 

Research from ARTICLE 19 Policy Paper shows that anonymity is the vital component in protecting both the right to freedom of expression and the right to privacy. It “allows individuals to express themselves without fear of reprisal, and is especially important in those countries where freedom of expression is heavily censored.”

The right to privacy is being pulled away from Hong Kong citizens in a unique, almost science fiction display. As Hong Kong is “handed over” to China geopolitically, what was once a place which enjoyed the more liberal, political philosophies of privacy, is now faced with harsh surveillance and censorship policies. The ongoing protests are an attempt to slip through “Beijing’s tightening grip on their city”, which includes aggressive measures like the expulsion of a foreign journalist, the jailing of young activists and curbs on electoral freedom.

In this ongoing battle between political protesters and police, identities have already become weapons. In the protests itself, police allegedly tracked protest leaders online, seeking out their phones and using the biometric logins to single out targets for arrest.

The age of surveillance

But censorship and surveillance isn’t just a reality found in dictatorships. Governments everywhere regularly attempt to prevent the use of encryption tools and anonymity in any form. This is to hinder unlawful activities, such as terrorism and drug trafficking. In the past decade, the US Drug Enforcement Administration has seized more than $4 billion from citizens based on their suspicions of criminal activity. Yet over 81 percent of these seizures have never led to formal charges. 

In many cases, the US government can legally request digital data held by companies without a warrant. The EARN IT Act is currently being debated in congress, and if passed, could “handcuff companies to a difficult-to-modify set of procedures. One item on that checklist could be eliminating end-to-end encryption in messaging apps, depriving the world of a secure communications tool.”

A few years back President Donald Trump passed a law which allows internet service providers to gather and share their customers personal data without their consent, like your web history and what apps you use. The UK’s Snoopers Charter grants the government the right to legally monitor the internet usage of its citizens. The general message is that if you’re a law-abiding citizen, there’s nothing to worry about.

Related: What is geoblocking?

Arguing that you don't care about the right to privacy because you have nothing to hide is no different than saying you don't care about free speech because you have nothing to say.

Edward Snowden
what is privacy

But it should be the government’s motive for wanting your personal information that is questioned – not your right privacy.

Use your digital freedom to fight back

In a digital utopia, anonymity, privacy, security and anti-censorship would blend together to form a perfect internet. 

But how do we make the internet safe, and your privacy a default setting? The laws which govern our privacy and help us freely voice our opinions have mostly benefited corporate needs, governments and their agencies. We can’t depend on laws to change, or for our internet service providers to serve in our interests. A decentralized VPN (dVPN) is one way to take back control.

Related: dVPN comparison – See how new decentralised technologies stack up against each other.

Over a quarter (25%) of the world’s internet users already use a VPN. The main motives for using one include accessing social networks and news services (34%), to keep anonymity while browsing (31%), to hide web browsing from the government (18%) and to access Tor browser (17%). Yet in countries where citizens need a VPN the most – Venezuela, China, Russia, Turkey, Iran, UAE – naturally they are forbidden. 

A dVPN was designed for these victims of censorship and surveillance. A regular VPN connects you to data centers managed by businesses, which makes them detectable to governments and ISPs. These services are also often slow, limited and most worryingly, they keep logs of all their users’ online activity in centralised servers. A study of 62 commercial providers showed that many VPNs leak user traffic “through a variety of means.

With a dVPN, the service is powered entirely by other web users like you. You can select from a global menu of residential IP addresses, so it’s almost impossible to trace or be shut down by governments. A dVPN is a technological remedy for anti-privacy and anti-anonymity. If you live in a country which enjoys internet freedom, you can choose to rent out your IP address 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. 

A dVPN is more than just a service though – it’s a global network, a second layer of the internet that ensures it remains a public domain – a space for new ideas, collaboration and connection. This general decentralization movement empowers people to take control of their digital lives.

Mysterium’s own dVPN was the world’s first. We use layered protection protocols so anyone can browse the web anonymously. Your identity and IP are always hidden so anyone can bypass unethical surveillance. We also whitelist everyone who wants to become a node or access our VPN, protecting the network from bad players. Try out our free VPN for Android

You can also join our node network and help us safeguard anonymous expression online, protecting the identities of journalists, activists and victims of censorship and surveillance around the world.  

Related: The definitive guide to running a Mysterium Node

It’s time we vindicate the cypherpunks – the technology which allows us to build their envisioned, anonymous systems has finally arrived. After all, “we cannot expect governments, corporations, or other large, faceless organizations to grant us privacy … we must defend our own privacy if we expect to have any.” 

Onward.

VPN vs Tor vs dVPN – what’s the difference?

VPN vs Tor

VPN vs Tor vs dVPN - What are the real differences?

In this article we will break down the fundamental differences between three different types of technologies that protect your privacy online.

Not a reader? Check out this video where one of our contributors sums up the ways in which the technical architecture of VPN, Tor and dVPNs differ.

What is Tor, and how is it different to a distributed VPN (dVPN)?

The internet was not built to be private and secure by default. Its flexible protocols allow people to build unique software and applications, but these still need to be protected. In this VPN vs Tor comparison, we will look at the various ways the technologies are similar and different.

Tor is a project designed to protect users since 2002. It’s an open-source browser which enables anonymous communication online. It was first developed by Syverson and computer scientists Roger Dingledine and Nick Mathewson, who originally called it The Onion Routing (Tor) project, due to its “layers” of encryption.

Tor browser and VPNs are similar in their aims but not in their technological approach. While both will hide your identity and ensure your browsing activity is kept private and encrypted, there are certain advantages and disadvantages to each. That’s why using the two systems together is your safest bet for securing your digital privacy.

VPN vs Tor

How Tor works

Tor utilises a system that was originally developed by the US Navy to protect intelligence communications. It “bundles” your data into smaller, encrypted packets before it begins routing these through its vast network of nodes, which can be run by anyone. The chosen path is randomised and predetermined, and your traffic will pass through a minimum of three relay nodes before it reaches a final exit node.

Each time your traffic passes through a relay node, a “layer” of encryption is removed, revealing which relay node the traffic should be sent to next. Each relay node will only be able to decrypt enough data to identify the location of the next relay, and the one before it who passed on the traffic.

Exit nodes, however, remove the last layer of encryption. It can’t see your location or IP address, but it is possible for an exit node to see your activity if you visit an unsecure website (one that is not HTTPS).

VPN vs Tor

How does a VPN work?

A regular VPN seems much simpler, because there is a third party involved. Your VPN provider will encrypt all of your data and browsing activity, directing all your traffic to a remote server owned or hired by them. You can usually choose from a list of servers located across the world, so you’re able to unlock your content based on where the website is based.

A decentralized VPN mimics the architecture of Tor more closely. As a peer to peer system, you plug into a global network of nodes run by people voluntarily. However, all nodes are paid for providing the VPN service and keeping the network powered. In the case of Mysterium Network, you can select your connection from a list of nodes (as most of them provide residential IP addresses) from around the world. Traffic is encrypted and directed through the network, and you pay the node for the minutes you are connected and the traffic you’re sending through them. Mysterium has built its own micropayments system specifically to accommodate these fast, frequent and small P2P transactions.

Let’s now dive into VPN vs Tor vs dVPN so you can see how they compare.

How does a VPN work?

Mysterium Network

A global collection of nodes (usually run in people homes) power a VPN network by sharing their bandwidth P2P in exchange for cryptocurrency.

Users can easily become a node and also download the VPN app to select from a global menu of node IDs

Tor

The main goal of Tor is privacy and anonymity. It’s a browser which anonymizes your web browsing by sending your traffic through various nodes, which can be hosted by anyone. Your traffic cannot be traced as each node encrypts traffic and hides the source IP.

VPN

Not a network, but more a global centralised VPN service which uses dedicated data center servers around the world in hundreds of different locations. Such VPN companies provide, centralized VPNs also allow P2P traffic on certain servers and can additionally provide  Dedicated IP address, Double VPN, Onion Over VPN and connection to the Tor anonymity network.

How are nodes incentivised or rewarded?

Mysterium Network

Pilot program

Monthly bounties which reward nodes in cryptocurrency. Only a crypto wallet on Ethereum blockchain 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.

Tor

Tor doesn’t have node incentivisation. All nodes are operated by volunteers.

This lack of incentivisation for nodes in the network has meant it remains relatively small (after 10+ years of development, it still only has 6500 exit nodes).

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 laptop, or even mini computers such as a Raspberry Pi. In future, even mobile devices are planned to be supported to run node). Link a node to their Ethereum wallet address via an easy to use dashboard, and track earnings at My.Mysterium.Network.

Tor

Anyone can create and run a Tor node. However, there are various technical requirements and it’s recommended that you do not run a relay (non-exit) node from a consumer-level route, as it may overwhelm it.

VPN

VPN companies manage their own servers/exit nodes, so all setup and maintenance is done by company’s employees.

By paying for the service, users get access to the VPN service, but do not help power it.

Node onboarding costs & fees

Mysterium Network

While on testnet, Mysterium 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 earn cryptocurrency directly from users of this VPN service. They will pay a small fee to their “accountant” for validation of their payments, similar to paying miners for processing your transactions in a blockchain network.

Tor

Tor is free to use.

VPN

Monthly subscription model, rather than a pay-as-you-go structure. Sometimes users are even motivated to pay for a 3 year subscription in advance.

User Security

Mysterium Network

Mysterium is a fast and scalable security layer to reinvent privacy via VPN. It’s built so that different protocols can be plugged into the node network.

Mysterium is also working on a traffic slicing solution which could send traffic to different services via different nodes.

Thanks to Wireguard and OpenVPN protocols, user’s traffic is encrypted, so even ISPs can’t see what is in there.

Tor

While Tor has better privacy/anonymity properties and is great at hiding your browsing activity, your ISP can still see that you’re connected to Tor. This could lead to surveillance, as US government agencies (FBI/NSA) are constantly trying to crack Tor and discover its users activity.

The owner of the entry node will be able to see your real IP address. After this node hides your address, the rest of the nodes will no longer know who you are. The last node will see what you’re looking at, but not your identity.

This presents some risks when using the network, but in terms of privacy, it is the best available option at the moment.

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.

Additionally, a VPN exit node knows both a user’s IP and destination addresses. If that destination is not encrypted (e.g. not using HTTPS), they can see the content you’re accessing.

Logging policy

Mysterium Network

No centralised logs! The distributed architecture of Mysterium Network removes any technical possibility for collecting or storing logs centrally.

Tor

Some hypothesize that a number of nodes are run by malicious actors (eg. the NSA) who could potentially control enough nodes to effectively track users’ activity. The network itself is unable to store logs, however a Tor entry and exit node may be able to see your traffic or IP address, but actually piecing the information together to identify you would require a lot of effort.

VPN

In theory, a centralized VPN *could* keep logs of a user’s activity, but many state they are committed to a zero-logs policy. However, nobody can be really sure that they’re not cooperating with governments or not selling user’s browsing data to 3rd parties.

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.

We are currently in R&D for a traffic slicing solution which will allow node runners to preselect the type of traffic they are willing to run through their node – i.e. social media, blogging, streaming, etc. while the remaining traffic could be sent forward into Tor or rejected.

Tor

Running a node can be risky, as you can potentially receive a lot of shady outbound traffic as an exit node. Being an exit node comes with the highest legal exposure and risk, so you should not run a node from your home. Your ISP may disconnect your service and you may receive some letters from various authorities.

VPN

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

Ease of Use

Mysterium Network

VPN is simple to use via 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 (or have a crypto exchange account) to receive payments.

Learn more about our network and development.

Tor

Anyone can download and install Tor browser to connect to the internet (similar to any other browser).

However, browsing is slow (as all your traffic has to pass through numerous nodes first). Its practical usability suffers (e.g. not being able to  unblock media content) but this drawback is the exchange for better anonymity.

For nodes, a Tor relay must be able to host a minimum of 100 GByte of outbound traffic (and the same amount of incoming traffic) per month.

VPN

Some VPNs have smart algorithms which automatically select the best server for you based on location, loads, or your special requirements.

Centralised VPN apps are also easier to use, allow convenient payment methods (eg. via credit card) and have 24/7 user support.

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 fast and more scalable.

Tor

Tor is currently used by a couple million of users. Due to its distributed nature, the network can (in theory) grow larger. However it would require a much higher number of nodes. Unfortunately, despite its millions of users, Tor has not had huge growth in nodes due to its being a free service run by volunteers. Without incentivisation for nodes, it can only grow so fast.

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.

Compatible with

Mysterium Network

Android, Mac, Windows, Linux.

Tor

Tor for android, Windows, Mac, Linux and as a separate tab in Brave browser.

VPN

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

Open Source?

Mysterium Network

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

Tor

Yes – open source pioneer.

VPN

No – centralized VPNs are proprietary and closed source.You can only imagine what they do with your collected data stored in their servers.

Decentralized?

Mysterium Network

You bet.

Tor

Yes, but it doesn’t use blockchain for payments.

VPN

Nope. Decentra-what?

Network Status

Mysterium Network

Testnet live – 900 residential nodes, with more than 500 live at any given point.

Tor

Approx. 6500 exit nodes.

VPN

Depends on size of VPN provider, but biggest can provide over 5200 servers in 59 countries.

So, Tor or VPN - why not both?

Tor and VPNs are complementary privacy solutions, so they can work together to enhance your security and anonymity even more.

There are two methods for merging Tor with VPN:

VPN over Tor: connect to the Tor browser, then activate your VPN. This is a more complex method as it requires some manual configuration. As your VPN’s server acts as the final exit node, Tor’s own exit nodes will not be able to peel back the final layer of encryption to reveal your activity. While your ISP can tell that you’re using Tor, it would be able to trace your activity and keeps your IP address hidden from your VPN service.

Tor over VPN: Connect to your VPN, then open your Tor browser. Your VPN will encrypt all of your traffic before it enters the Tor network, and also hides your IP address. It also hides the fact you’re using Tor from your ISP. However, if your VPN provider chooses to keep logs, it can see that you’re using Tor. This is why it’s best that you use a decentralised VPN, which cannot keep user logs.

Both Mysterium and Tor can be pieced together to ensure full privacy coverage. One of Mysterium’s most considered features is to extend our whitelisting in such a way so that your traffic would only exit via a Mysterium node’s IP, while the rest of the traffic would be forwarded throughout the Tor network. In this way, Mysterium users will get to un-geoblock content, and our node runners will not risk unwanted content going through their node.

how to build a blockchain app

The Bigger Picture

Mysterium and Tor Network are both grassroots, open source technologies who have managed to grow large community-driven technologies without any corporate backing or support. However, we have one point of difference; while regular VPNs offer to protect their users (for a price), we believe the fight against surveillance, censorship and cybercrime is a shared one. Regular VPNs do nothing to address the infrastructural flaws of the internet, instead they apply a quick fix solution. We want to rebuild the internet itself, creating people-powered networks that are immune to corporate or government control.

Tor helped kickstart this grassroots anonymity revolution and now we’re taking it even further. Our trustless, P2P payment network (currently on testnet) will be the first of its kind. It allows users of our global, distributed VPN to pay each other in short and frequent intervals, whenever they “rent” a VPN service from each other. We believe this is the missing link for current privacy solutions – mutual incentivisation, and the goal of restoring the internet to its former glory.

Try our free dVPN app for Android. You can also decide which tor browser for android to use.

Try our free dVPN app for Android. You can also decide which tor browser for android to use.

Join the Mysterium Army here

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.

cybersecurity tips

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

Пожалуйста, остерегайтесь мошенничества. Мы никогда не просим сообщать свои приватные ключи.

Понятно!
X