No matter what proportion we trust any particular virtual private network to assist mask our internet browsing, we engage therein service knowing that each one of our data is actually funneled to one company, whose servers most folks haven’t seen with our own eyes. that is the core problem with even the simplest VPN — despite all the audits and transparency gestures many companies undergo, it’s still a user-trust business. At the top of the day, VPN business success may be a game of keeping an honest reputation. But what if there have been a VPN technology that did not require you to trust it?
Enter Orchid, a decentralized bandwidth market designed to be anonymous and uncensorable. With an app launched in December, you employ a singular cryptocurrency built on Ethereum called OXT to buy private bandwidth as you go, sans subscription. At the core of the experience may be a single aim: rather than putting all of your trust into one VPN company, you distribute that trust across multiple VPN providers, as you break apart the flow of your internet traffic information in order that no single entity can see the entire picture.
Orchid’s end goal is to make a privacy network that appears something like Tor — a system where your traffic hops from one connection point called a “node” to subsequent during a bid to shake any potential snoops off your browsing trail. But unlike Tor, which has nodes that are volunteer-run, Orchid node operators have financial incentives to stay accelerates .
Orchid’s other key differences from Tor suggest it might be poised to stake a claim because of the next generation of privacy technology.
For instance, one among the widely known hurdles in using Tor is that the amount of speed loss you endure as your traffic makes multiple hops between the volunteer-run nodes. an equivalent problem has afflicted VPN services, leading providers within the market to compete for the very best speeds, often at the expense of privacy.
Orchid, on the opposite hand, is promising a VPN unencumbered by slow speeds, with better privacy found at each of your hops.
“Currently, with the results we’re getting, we’re ready to do things like WhatsApp video streaming, even over two hops,” said Orchid co-founder Steven Waterhouse. A speed boost like this might enable a broader layer of privacy for any internet-connected software on your computer or phone without the lags of Tor.
“There are companies that support multiple hops, but the multiple hops are going within that very same server,” Waterhouse said. “So, it doesn’t really help that much because that [VPN] company remains capable of logging all that information. With our system you’re hopping between different providers”
Therefore, it’s nearly impossible for anybody to stay a log of your activity.
And that brings us to the important limitations of what Tor can do for your privacy. Feeding all of your device’s internet-connected applications — whether a video chat app or your gaming traffic — through an encrypted tunnel is traditionally the function of a VPN, not Tor.
Orchid co-founder Jay Freeman points out that while people have developed workarounds, Tor’s fundamental architecture is geared toward use with a browser.
“It was essentially designed from the bottom up to unravel a very narrow set of problems associated with web browsing. So it’s just impossible to place things sort of a video call over Tor and have it work well in the least ,” Freeman said.
A privacy alternative
This limitation of Tor in an age where seemingly each piece of software you employ is demanding an online connection is where the necessity for Orchid’s hybrid technology comes into focus. Combining faster, more private hops with a system-wide encrypted protection where no single bandwidth provider gets to ascertain the entire picture? that would change not just the sport , but the whole playing field.
Orchid’s promise as a privacy alternative comes with a couple of limitations outlined in its publicly available white book . Most of the restrictions are related to the bounds of Ethereum currency itself, meaning anything that might take down an Ethereum network (as unlikely as that would be at this point) could take down Orchid. Likewise, Orchid’s ability to scale could also be limited to a couple of million users under certain network conditions.
Another limitation is found in Orchid’s nanopayment system, which could present an obstacle to fulfilling its privacy promises. Despite the privacy boost offered by using cryptocurrency, you’d still got to anonymize any OXT currency before loading into Orchid’s nanopayment system to make sure a greater degree of anonymity.
“We’re trying to mix tons of the foremost positive benefits of other VPN protocols that have existed, trying to form it in order that you’ve got something that’s a system-wide VPN that’s actually handling all different sorts of traffic for your computer,” said Freeman.
“At an equivalent time we’re trying to form it in order that our traffic are some things that’s very normal, within the sense of something that an internet browser would be ready to even have generated itself,” he added. “So that permits it to urge around tons of firewalls that are there trying to try to to relatively naive protocol analysis and detection.”
Orchid’s biggest drawback, however, could also be the very thing that creates it so innovative as a completely unique privacy technology: A crypto-financed hybrid VPN supported a bandwidth-trading market may be a hard pitch to form to the typical person. But Waterhouse said Orchid is moving toward a neater user experience.
While Orchid only has an Android app available at the present , Waterhouse said other platforms are within the works and will be released soon.
“We are definitely focused on trying to quite make it more usable and more accessible by many people,” Waterhouse said. “And that is the direction which will be going with applications.”