Remember, Remember, the Fifth of November! Let the Launch of the Nym Validators never be forgot!
Today, November 5th 2020 — known all over the world over as a day to celebrate anonymity — the Nym network launched our decentralized validators to keep the world’s largest mixnet decentralized and free from censorship.
And so while the rest of the world watched in fear as the election results trickled in that may very well mark the end of the United States, we at Nym Technologies and our intrepid volunteers from Dokia Capital, Figment, and dedicated volunteers from of our community were spinning up and testing Tendermint nodes. We’d like to congratulate everyone, as we set the genesis block and completed our first test transactions of NYMPH on what is now the Nym blockchain.
These validators are the second crucial part of the Nym mixnet after the mix nodes themselves, keeping track of the reputation of each mix node. Mix node reputation is given in NYMPH tokens. NYMPH will continue to run on Liquid, and the Nym blockchain allows us to decentralize the testing of nodes and so fully automate the production of NYMPH on Liquid. Remember, NYMPH is not a cryptocurrency, and payment for mixing will continue using Bitcoin, the hard money of the Internet.
So why Tendermint and Cosmos? As our mixnet approached 900 nodes, our centralized directory authority simply couldn’t keep track of the amount of requests. So we’ve reset it and are replacing it with a blockchain, addressing a core problem in mixnet architectures. We’re partners and grant recipients from the Interchain Foundation, and we’ve found Tendermint and Cosmos to be reliable pieces of software that work well in the real world.
And not just mixnets, as one of the core problems with Tor is their dependence on a semi-centralized directory authority. Even though Tor is a collection of peer-to-peer relays, the actual network topology — who is in and who is out of Tor — is kept in a centralized database called the consensus document. This has long been a critical vulnerability in Tor … in fact, Nym team members were there years ago with Roger Dingledine at the Chaos Computer Congress in Berlin when Lizard Squad did a DDoS on the directory authorities!
Now, while it may seem simple to just replace the directory authority with a Distributed Hash Table (DHT) as done by I2P and a few confused blockchain projects like HOPR, in actuality this just leads to even more attacks, as our CEO Harry Halpin outlined years ago at the Privacy Enhancing Technologies Symposium with other researchers in the paper Systematizing Decentralization and Privacy: Lessons from 15 years of research and deployments.
We think that a fully decentralized replacement for directory authorities is possible by using blockchain technology like Tendermint, where the role of keeping track of the mix nodes is given to validators and mix nodes then mix traffic. Overall, this leads to less attacks and more anonymity for everyone.
For the next release of our testnet next week, we’ll be systematically testing each mix node and rewarding based on uptime and mixing in NYMPH, but now we have a way to keep track of nodes and their reputation in NYMPH automatically. So, remember the lessons of Guy Fawkes Day and keep stacking sats!
And soon, you’ll be able stack those sats so that even if God himself was watching the Internet they could not determine your identity. .. Beneath this network there is an idea. And ideas are bulletproof, no matter who wins the election in the USA, or anywhere else for that matter.