Decentralized and Secure Access to the Internet. Do we need a Decentralized VPN?
When I was visiting France this fall, one day an ad caught my attention, which said something like:
“You are not safe, your Government is watching you, get a VPN.” along with my IP address, French flag showing my location — everything designed to scare me.
It touched me somewhere deeper and I must admit — recent viewing of Snowden movie ‘helped’ with that.
Soon I found myself pacing back and forth across the balcony — I couldn’t stop thinking, one underlying question in my mind:
“Why VPN services are still centralized and closed source?”
Disclaimer: I must admit I am a huge fan of Decentralized and Open approach.
— — — Short basic info about VPNs (Virtual Private Networks)
VPN allows you to secure your connection to the Internet by creating an encrypted tunnel to a remote server making it impossible for others to track whatever you do while connected. For example when you connect via a public Wifi or at home through your ISP (Internet Service Provider) — if you don’t use VPN, they can easily see almost anything you do while you are connected (even in ‘https://’ case your browsing destinations can be detected)
Read more on VPN at Wikipedia.
— — —
Ever since that day — this invasive idea “had me”… After some time I started talking to people about it — I was surprised to hear responses like “How come this is not fixed yet?” Yeah really, how come?
Very soon I realized: Every VPN service is quick to tell you of their “no log” policy. But think for a second “can you really be sure?” Why I ask, is because regular VPN providers check positive on both risk boxes, by being:
- closed source — which means nobody from outside knows what is really happening with their private information “under the VPN hood”. And malicious instances have been reported;
- centralized — meaning when you connect to a regular VPN all your traffic goes through centralized server infrastructure, which means all your information could be silently collected on these servers and you wouldn’t have a clue.
Off course that’s how most of Internet services work these days. Anything from small online stores to Google or Facebook and everything in between. So “why worry” someone might ask. Well because with current technological advancement our privacy is disappearing faster than a speed of light and most of it is happening behind our backs. Today there are so many ‘players’ trading, using and abusing our private information in ways hidden to us and sometimes even against our best interests. So I and many others believe it’s time to start reversing this trend.
That’s why we started working on Mysterium Network.
In this world of ever growing data-mining & surveillance, which is coming not just from our governments, but also from all sorts of businesses or even outright criminal organisations — we need alternatives, strong enough to protect us from ever growing assault on our rights.
So let’s build one
How about we get together, design and build a VPN service which is nearly impossible to hack — giving us almost perfect privacy and anonymity. We are perfectly aware — this will not be an easy task, yet still possible. We would need many people contributing, but this is not beyond comprehension — we see projects of such scope being developed more and more often.
Also blockchain technology— is a perfect place to start, because projects built on it must adhere to 7 principles of Blockchain Economy, which are essentially about equality, fairness, sound logic, behavior aligned on incentives..
Generally VPN is been a great solution. But with centralized VPN — you take away all your information from ISP and hand it to VPN provider. You simply move the issue from one entity to another. So in reality the problem is not solved, even if VPN providers tell you otherwise — you simply never ever know, unless they all become Open Source. But that is just not the case, at least not yet.
You might ask: How would such VPN look like?
Since I first had this idea, I couldn’t stop, so we formed a dedicated team — a small group of people who truly care about this problem and we started to work on it. So here are the main principles of what we think would make a proper VPN:
- First it must be Open Source, so that any developer could check the code and see that there are no “shady” elements left in it. Also open source could potentially help identify weak spots in a timely fashion;
- It must be Decentralized — making it nearly impossible for any centralized entity to collect any meaningful traffic data;
- Open — it must be open to anyone willing to participate in any role: as user, provider or collaborator, similar to coop model;
- all VPN specific principles must apply by default, like: all traffic must be Encrypted.
This is where we can start
Meet Mysterium Network project.
We intend to create Mysterium Network. This is how we envision it will work out:
- We will start by creating an Open Source software, which will enable anyone to become a VPN provider and rent their unused network traffic for those who need it. The quality of this software will evolve over time with the feedback and maybe even contributions from the community.
- Mysterium Network — will be a network of VPN nodes. And anyone will be able to create a Node using this open source software.
- All Nodes will be completely based on peer to peer architecture, which means no single point of failure, no need of any centralized servers.
- Anyone will be able to connect to Mysterium network as a VPN Customer.
- We will create an immutable Smart Contract running on Ethereum. It’s job will be to make sure customers pay for their VPN usage and VPN providers get adequate compensation for their services.
- Mysterium Network will function as a decentralized marketplace, connecting VPN users to VPN providers who match each others preferences (price, quality, selected level of security, etc..)
We are well aware that developing Mysterium Network will be extremely challenging. Yet team and results achieved in this short period of time — are reassuring. We will be communicating much more about our plans and progress in coming days/weeks. Feel free to contact us on any topic.
There are many ways to stay in contact:
- Join our Slack,
- read other blog posts from us,
- visit our website.
We are eager to hear your thoughts
Do you use VPN? What are your experiences? Do security or privacy questions concern you? What are you doing now to protect yourself?