Decentralized VPNs may be the newest way that we can stay safe on the web, and they are even touted as a way that we can change the way the internet works. But what exactly are these services and how do they work?
Regular VPN vs decentralized VPN
We will explain what a decentralized VPN is by comparing it to a normal VPN. Normally, when you connect to a website, you are establishing a connection between your computer, the server of your Internet service provider and the server where the website is hosted (How-To Geek in this case). That’s how it is how the internet works .
A VPN redirects your connection between your ISP and the website through what’s called a secure tunnel. This supposedly secures your connection and, more importantly, changes your IP adress to the server. Since most VPN services have locations around the world, it can seem like you are anywhere. That’s how it is how VPNs work .
However, there are some weaknesses in the way VPNs work, the biggest of which is the VPN itself. While the VPN hides your online behavior from your ISP and the sites you visit, the VPN operator itself has the technical availability to see everything you do. Most of the top-rated VPN services have no registration policies They promise to avoid it, but in the end, you’re taking them at their word. With all the VPN that they are not trustworthy , it may not always be a good idea.
What is a decentralized VPN?
A decentralized VPN, also known as dVPN, P2P VPN, or more rarely DPN, solves this problem by connecting it not to a proprietary server, but to what is called a “node.” A node could be a server, but it could also be someone’s phone or laptop, or even an idle desktop computer in an office somewhere.
The dVPN gains access to these devices by crediting their owners for the privilege. They can then use this credit to use the network themselves, making everything self-sufficient. To break it down on an elemental level, Peter lets Paula wander through his smartphone. In return, she can route through her laptop.
Of course, at first glance, that sounds a bit questionable, as you are allowing strangers to access your devices. The good news is that they are not accessing your devices. At no point does anyone get real use of their machine. Traffic is simply routed through your address, so to speak. It is comparable to use BitTorrent to download files.
That said, most dVPN providers seem to allow two types of plans: those that allow you to get credit by allowing others to navigate through your devices, and those that allow you to pay for access like with a regular VPN.
Because this network is decentralized (another word that is frequently used is “serverless”), there is no single authority that can collect information about what you are doing. On top of that, dVPNs are dApps, or “dapps,” which run on the Ethereum blockchain , which makes it possible for anyone to see how they work while their data is kept safe.
In the words of Dimitar Dobrev, founder of both VPNArea and the promising service dVPN Neutrality Way, you should think of Ethereum “as the database that VPN providers have to authenticate users, maintain server lists, credentials, etc.” In theory, this transparency could make it easier to identify who is using which node. In the case of Neutrality Way, Dobrev proposes using an automated bot that changes traffic anonymously. It sounds intriguing and we are curious to see what will come of it.
Decentralized VPN vs. Tor
If you know a little about this kind of thing, all this talk about nodes probably got you thinking something like “But that’s just Tor with extra steps.” You are not wrong either. The article of One Hacker Noon He even calls decentralized VPNs the “evolution of Tor.” However, there are some key differences.
The most important one is that while Tor works on a voluntary basis (people install nodes for free for anyone to use) dVPNs are incentivized. If you put in a node, you can expect to get paid for your problem, even if it is only in network credits that you can then use yourself. On the other hand, you can also choose to pay on the system without installing a node of your own. That is fine too. This incentive could be the key to keeping dVPNs viable as Tor languishes among a group of fans.
Another difference is that the dVPNs will most likely not jump between nodes. According to Dobrev, jumping between nodes makes it too easy to collect IP addresses and thus blacklist them, which is bad for both people trying to access Netflix libraries from other countries and people who They seek to evade the China-style censorship .
Another advantage that dVPNs have over Tor is that dVPNs have better speed thanks to the improved protocols. Generally speaking, they should also be able to access restricted content (like Netflix) because you’re using residential IP addresses, not the ones that streaming services know belong to VPNs.
Can you use a decentralized VPN?
If all of the above sounds interesting, there is a catch: very few of the services that we could find are fully operational. Only Orchid seems to have a fully developed system, and others are in different stages of preparation.
However, we recommend that you consult the providers below: most of them have websites with extensive information; Seriously, we wish everyone was so forthright with their product information, as well as links to long-form whitepapers, which is where we got a lot of information for this article.
Although we won’t go so far as to recommend them, here are five dVPNs that seem to be pretty good:
- Orchid , which appears to be the only truly operational service at the moment. It works with its own cryptocurrency called OXT.
- Neutrality Way , a dVPN from the same people behind VPNArea, which has some very innovative solutions to the problems that dVPNs face.
- Sentinel , which is unique for using so-called validators to govern your network.
- Deeper , which aims to create Web3.0 with greater transparency for everyone.
- Mysterium Network , which has one of the most informative websites for people who are not familiar with technology.
Whether or not dVPNs are the way of the future remains to be seen, but these handy apps already have a lot to offer. Only time will tell if they will be the gateway to a new kind of Internet.
The entry What are decentralized VPNs? was published first in ResponTodo.