After raising more than $14 million in an ICO during May 2017, Mysterium will build a fully decentralized, peer-to-peer-based and serverless Virtual Private Network (VPN). By providing users with greater privacy and financial incentives to operate nodes, Mysterium will lift restrictions on the usage of the internet as stated by their mission:

“Our mission is to create a distributed, trustless, and sustainable network – providing open access and privacy to all internet users.”

While many people tend to associate privacy and anonymity with criminal activity, encryption has important, legal use cases too. For instance, travellers may need to access social media or email services that are blocked in some countries, communications may reveal political beliefs and make you a target of discrimination and thirdly, while another good reason is to safeguard corporate espionage.

But why do we need a decentralized VPN service? Well, first of all, centralized services prioritize shareholders rather than users, so Mysterium will look to add more value and operate at a lower cost. Secondly, private data is distributed and never falls into the hands of one company or a central point of failure. For example, the false promise of security was recently exposed for mobile VPNs. Thirdly, your data is not able to be accessed by third parties with a decentralized VPN such as Mysterium.

How does Mysterium work? VPN service consumers can find and pay service providers in the network by using Mysterium built-in Smart contract based Identity, Service Discovery and Payment services. Relying on the Ethereum blockchain, storage and transactions on Mysterium are censorship resilient.

Registered Identities are used on the network to enable means of creating limited trust when engaging with services and payments. Anyone can announce their VPN services along with payment terms while users can search for providers across various categories. Users make a promise to pay and extend access to the service as required.

Mysterium uses Ethereum smart contracts to deliver and clear payments for VPN services, so that node operators can get paid. The Mysterium Node Network will be developed as an open and distributed peer-to-peer platform embedded with sustainable incentivization protocols while using continuously evolving censorship evasion mechanism developed by the community.

The cost of Mysterium services will be defined by the node operators, leading to ‘perfect competition.’ The costs of running a node should be closely aligned with the price users pay, bringing an advantage compared to existing VPN services, which are more expensive.

Nodes will essentially act like miners with rewards coming in the form of MYST tokens for sharing their bandwidth. VPN customers are also charged fees for services denominated in MYST. MYST tokens can be purchased on the Bittrex and Liqui exchanges.

After a successful ICO, the team are currently working on version 1 (v1) of the project. This development will have all the ‘ingredients’ of a decentralized VPN, but will not be completely decentralized.

A working product, payments, identity management and discovery mechanism, is expected to be complete by the end of 2017. Also, by the end of 2017, Mysterium wants to have established solid legal protection for node operators in at least one country. By 2019, the fully decentralized version will be realized and the global scaling of the Mysterium app will begin. Eventually, we will see their project take shape in the form of a DApp.

Due to the lack of investment and research into the implementation and maintenance of tools that are capable of restoring privacy to internet users, Mysterium has emerged to fill this gap. By decentralizing VPNs, the project hopes to introduce a system where you can protect their data, enjoy low prices as well as incentivizing participants with financial rewards in the form of the Ethereum token, MYST.

You can find out more about Mysterium via their whitepaper, or you can check the progress in development on GitHub.

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