Understanding levels of Internet Protection. Choosing focus

Last week we announced our intention to create Mysterium Network and soon received lots of feedback through a discussion on Ethereum Reddit channel. Feedback ranged from praising the idea to giving valuable insights where should we look, what should we do, what to avoid, pointing towards lots of valuable information..

First of all we want to thank all the people who stopped by to let us know their thoughts. As a team — we grew a lot because of this (even if some of the feedback was not easy to take).

We have been discussing and researching newly acquired information, piecing the big picture and tying it into our solution.

Piecing the Big Picture

Understanding difference between two levels of protection

Many levels of protection

Any VPN, if done in a usual VPN manner (as it works today where users connect to centralized VPN nodes) cannot provide very serious protection, just some anonymization and encryption.

Let me explain why.

For example let’s say some government is searching for a wanted person, lets call them “person A”. There is no VPN on earth, which can protect/hide that person from being identified. It doesn’t matter if VPN is centralized or not. There are many ways for governments to find “person A”. Finding their IP and decrypting their traffic — is just small piece of actions governments do to find/spy on wanted people.

Now let’s consider a different person —”person B”, someone more ‘down to Earth’. Imagine she is visiting an evil and closed Country on Mars for few months and now that she is behind Great Martian Firewall in terms of Internet — she is practically cut of from the rest of the world. She is not wanted by the government, she just wants to stay in touch with her friends and family over Facebook, watch occasional video on YouTube or her favorite show on Netflix. That is very difficult when you are visiting such country. Unless off course you use a VPN. There are more places like this, where you want to access content hidden or forbidden in that country, or maybe you just want to hide yourself a bit: encrypt your traffic from possibly malicious WiFi Hotspot, hide your location from service provider, etc.. There are many ‘light weight’ use cases and there are equally as many people who will do great with basic level of protection.

Decentralized VPN — can serve these people very well, by providing more anonymity than centralized VPN’s can and it will cost less money for the same service.

Our focus for now is on Decentralizing Basic Protection

Can we build a ‘decentralized and bulletproof protection’ for the ”person A”? At the moment we are not sure, maybe someday in the future. We have both: our ideas and our doubts, but its a bit too early to be sure, first we will need to test those ideas. It will take lots of time and lots of effort until we can get concrete results.

Can we build a ‘decentralized and basic protection’ for “person B”? Our answer is Yes. It will not happen without without effort, but this goal is very well within our reach.

That’s why we decided to first focus on what we can promise — basic protection:
  • Basic Anonymization: hiding of IP & Encryption of traffic between user and exit node;
  • Decentralized marketplace where VPN providers meet their customers;
  • Doing it all while being Open Source.

Once we decentralize basic protection and network is working as expected, only then we can move on to second phase — creating a lot more more serious identity and privacy protection.

TOR questions

We have received quite a few comments comparing Mysterium Network with TOR, mostly asking one thing:

“Why do we need decentralized VPN, when we already have TOR, which already provides security and anonymity?”

That is a legit question.

Even if TOR is great for “Person A”, it’s not as good for “Person B”, because:

  • it’s too slow for her
  • it’s too difficult for most users
  • TOR node running is voluntary, not incentivized or reimbursed

We will concentrate on: Speed and ease of use, providing basic security, satisfying the needs of “person B”.

Therefore we don’t want to compare Mysterium Network with TOR, only with other — centralized VPN providers.

TL;DR or Final notes

Mysterium Network one day may provide ultimate protection on the Internet, but that is further into the future. So for now we decided to focus on decentralizing basic protection — in essence we will provide same level of protection, current centralized VPN providers can provide, with these additional benefits:

  • no single point of failure, because of decentralization;
  • greater anonymity, because of decentralization;
  • ability for user to choose : speed vs cost, higher security vs higher speed, etc.. Node reputation will allow us to provide such differences;
  • cost savings, because perfect competition principle will be at work here;
  • Collected income will be distributed among many small exit node operators vs currently existing few large centralized VPN companies(we hope they will eventually join too);
  • all size VPN providers will have equal opportunities to win customers.

We want to Decentralize and Open Source VPN services, which is very well within our reach. Now the question is — where do you stand on this topic?

If you are interested — there are few ways you can contribute:

  • contribute as a team member or as advisor, overtime we will need many more people contributing than we currently have;
  • if you want to invest, we are working towards launching an ICO, so stay tuned. We will release info about ICO this in the next couple days.

If this is an interesting topic for you — join our slack and say hello, follow us on Medium or simply visit our website.

What is your take on this, can basic anonymity and protection on the Internet help you somehow?