Today we are living more and more in the digital world. The internet has become the backbone of everyday life of humans in both our home as well as work life. And this trend is taking on further acceleration as we are turning ever more towards technology and pushing the boundaries between the physical and virtual worlds.
In its original design, the internet is not private. This leaves users with little protection. Protocol upgrades like the introduction of SSL and TLS have enabled client-server encryption, so that applications like ecommerce, where credit card information is shared, became possible. However, metadata e.g. of what services are used and how long, is exposing the behavior of all internet users online today. This metadata is a primary source for private, nationwide and global actors collecting this information in bulk to scan for trends, predict outcomes, or target individuals such as journalists and whistleblowers.
A cry for privacy on the web
In a study published in 2019, roughly six-in-ten Americans believed it’s not possible to go through daily life without having their data collected. Furthermore, eight in ten people feel that they have no control over the data collected; and six in ten people have concerns about how nation-actors use the collected data. This shows that the trend towards end user privacy is inevitable. Apple is a great example of how this has led to commercial opportunities with the introduction of their major iOS 15 upgrade that is centered around privacy. Among other features was the Privacy Relay which anonymizes browsing the internet. Apple claims it cannot read the data, so that ultimately the user has to decide, similar to VPNs, whether or not to trust a central party.
Privacy without central control
With decentralized technologies however we can and are reshaping the internet and Nym is taking a very holistic approach towards universal privacy from the network layer upwards. The Nym network is a decentralized peer-to-peer network, based on the original idea of David Chaum’s mix network. However, the team did lots of modifications to protect against a nationwide, global actor threat model that has the ability to read any network traffic globally.
It solves this by weaving a decentralized ledger, the utility token NYM, and an incentivized permissionless peer-to-peer network of mixnodes, and a unique proof-of-mixing algorithm into a design that ensures ultimate privacy as well as scalability and elasticity for coming demand. And the team is not stopping here:
It strives to build a non-custodial identity/credential system to allow payment, universal authentication and authorization of permissions without having to trust a single central entity.
At the moment the project is in its testnet phase. The last testnet (Finney) finished recently with over 9000 mixnet nodes running Nym software (already more than the Tor network). We’ve been proud to be part of the set of validators, which are validating payments and proof-of-mixing payouts. The next step is the transition to the next testnet Milhon.
We are extremely thrilled to back the team and be part of the mission of Nym Technologies.
If you want to learn more about Nym or get involved check them out on Medium, Twitter or Telegram.
Credit also for this post to my Greenfield team mates and especially Jendrik Poloczek as well as Felix Machart!