Decentralized VPNs: What they are and how they work

Decentralized VPNs: What they are and how they work

November 25, 2023 privacy 0
DVPNs are worth considering if you’re interested in more privacy and less censorship, but they’re also risky due to their decentralized structure and volunteer-based operation model. Learn how they work and how they differ from traditional VPNs to decide if dVPNs are for you.

Contents What is a decentralized VPN? How does a decentralized VPN work? Advantages and disadvantages of using decentralized VPNs Differences between centralized and decentralized VPNs FAQ
What is a decentralized VPN?

Decentralized VPNs (decentralized virtual private networks, or dVPNs) are VPN services that don’t have a single entity for centralized control of their server network. Instead of having a VPN provider in charge of the network, volunteers operate individual nodes in the network. A decentralized VPN encrypts and routes your online traffic through multiple nodes.

How does a decentralized VPN work?

A decentralized VPN relies on a decentralized structure rather than traditional centralized servers with a single VPN provider in charge. The decentralized VPN service is based on a peer-to-peer model, where volunteer users operate their nodes in the distributed network with the help of distributed ledger technologies (DLTs) like blockchain and smart contracts. Any user can become a service provider and operate a node in the decentralized VPN network. A node in this context is a dedicated server machine, computer with dVPN software installed, or any device that helps route and secure internet traffic. Unused network traffic is also considered a node. Operators of these independent nodes apply blockchain technology to manage the network securely and transparently. They also use smart contracts to automatically enforce network rules and transactions without the need for a central authority. Community members are compensated in cryptocurrency or special tokens for operating the nodes and selling their unused network traffic to others.

Advantages and disadvantages of using decentralized VPNs

Decentralized VPNs help you to bypass censorship and surveillance and do not keep centralized logs, which adds to your online privacy and security. So you might benefit from a decentralized private network if your country has rigid internet regulations. However, some advantages of dVPNs can be easily turned on their heads. Since anyone can operate a node, the reliability, internet speed, and security of the dVPN nodes vary significantly. Using dVPNs is secure as long as node operators follow secure practices. Malicious actors might also set up nodes to spy on people. DVPNs are also complex to set up and use, making them an option for tech-savvy users only. With a smaller user base and limited customer support, using dVPNs might be more complicated than you’d like.


Differences between centralized and decentralized VPNs

The main difference between a centralized and decentralized VPN is that a decentralized VPN service operates a peer-to-peer network of independent nodes, managed by individual users. In contrast, a centralized VPN service runs a centralized VPN network with a single entity at the helm. These are known as traditional or regular VPN providers. Centralized VPNs route your traffic through a secure VPN tunnel, while decentralized VPNs route it through the nodes. Reliable decentralized VPNs are resistant to censorship, offer privacy, and incentivize users with crypto payments. However, they offer slower speeds and are difficult to use compared to regular VPNs. Decentralized VPNs are said to keep no centralized logs. However, some logging might be necessary to protect against IP blocklisting. Quality centralized VPNs maintain a no-logs policy, regularly backed up by independent audits, matching the privacy and security of reliable decentralized VPNs. So if you are deciding upon which service to use, make sure to read its terms of service before signing up.

No, a dVPN is not better than a conventional VPN. A traditional VPN that operates on a subscription-based model can usually offer as much privacy and security as a dVPN. On top of that, traditional VPNs do not significantly slow down your internet connection, are easy to use, ensure comprehensive customer support, and have clear accountability and transparency rules defined in their terms of service. ), }, { question: ‘Are decentralized VPNs legal to use?’, answer: ( In many parts of the world, the use of VPNs, including decentralized ones, is legal. Many countries acknowledge that people have the right to a secure internet connection and the possibility to shield their{‘ ‘} IP address from cybercriminals. However, you should look into the specific laws and regulations of the region you reside in to make sure you are not breaking any by using a decentralized VPN. ), }, { question: ‘Are there any real world examples of decentralized VPNs?’, answer: ( Mysterium and the Orchid protocol are among the most popular decentralized VPN service providers. Mysterium is a free-to-participate, blockchain-based dVPN. Its participants can contribute by hosting nodes in their chosen locations and selling their spare bandwidth. Mysterium is used by online privacy seekers.

The Orchid protocol is also a decentralized VPN network offering the Orchid VPN tool for accessing the internet privately. Once you’re on it, you can connect to an online marketplace of bandwidth providers and purchase their unused traffic for cryptocurrency. Orchid VPN is often used by people from countries with rigid internet censorship. ), }, ]} />

The post Decentralized VPNs: What they are and how they work first appeared on NordVPN.


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