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How VPNs Can Complement The Blockchain to Enhance Privacyby@john-ejiofor
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How VPNs Can Complement The Blockchain to Enhance Privacy

by John EjioforJuly 19th, 2019
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Global spending on blockchain solutions expected to grow from 1.5bn USD in 2018 to an estimated 11.7bn USD by 2022. Despite the decentralized nature of the blockchain, you must understand that your Internet Service Provider (ISP) has access to all of your packets. The absence of a central point of control ensures that hackers will not have an easy entry point to your IP address. The greatest security threat [to blockchain] involves targeted attacks on clients, as well as shared platforms such as exchanges, says Emin Gün Sirer.

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Across the globe, the talk has all been centered on privacy. This is expectedly so since both individuals and brands are at the receiving end of prying eyes.

On the one hand, is the government that issues policies which affect privacy while cybercriminals are daily becoming more potent in their efforts to frustrate the smooth running of businesses. With the worldwide spending on blockchain solutions expected to grow from 1.5bn USD in 2018 to an estimated 11.7bn USD by 2022, more needs to be done in the area of security and that’s where the VPNs come in.

Based on how the internet works, your data can be easily traced. Usually, your data is transferred in the form of a packet which is further divided into its components, which hold data such as, your IP address and information about the destination.

Any time you communicate with a website, therefore, the communication is basically carried out in the form of packets. Even when you communicate with a blockchain, the process of sending your data remains more or less, the same.

What you have in theory, therefore, is that anyone can intercept your packets while they are in transit and they may not only access your personal data but also trace the route of the data.

Blockchain's Shortcomings

Despite the decentralized nature of the blockchain, you must understand that your Internet Service Provider (ISP) has access to all of your packets. If for any reason you have to perform a transaction on the blockchain, you must have it behind your mind that the ISP or any surveillance agency that has access, can easily intercept and read your data.

Another disadvantage of this decentralization is that If your private key is stolen by criminals, your blockchain account can be tampered by others and it’s virtually impossible to track down the criminal and recover the modified blockchain information. 

The workings of the blockchain make it necessary that any time you perform a transaction on the blockchain, your address and the address of the destination, along with the amount that is attached to the transaction are sent to the blockchain. It’s true that you don’t need to attach your own identity to the transaction, but if your packet of data were to be intercepted by someone with the access and is able to determine the address it came from, it becomes relatively easy to link you up with the address.

You can only imagine the havoc cybercriminals can wreck if they are able to have access to your address.  According to Emin Gün Sirer, an associate professor in computer science at Cornell University with expertise in developing cryptocurrency protocols and investigating blockchain security flaws, “the greatest security threat [to blockchain] involves targeted attacks on clients, as well as shared platforms such as exchanges.”

The January 2018, rip off of more than $500 million worth of cryptocurrency from the Japan-based exchange Coincheck is a clear case that we still need to do a whole lot more in the area of security as regards the blockchain.

VPNs to the rescue

Since you are now aware that your IP address can be a potential source of tracing your transactions, the invariable thing to do is to ensure that you protect yourself with VPN. If you feel bogged down by the financial considerations involved in subscribing to a paid VPN, you have the option of a free VPN extension like the Urban-VPN that can go all the way to mask your IP, choose from a constantly growing pool of international locations across the globe, protect your data, and internet connection with encryption and DNS/IPv6 leak protection. 

While your data is safely encrypted, your real IP is replaced with a truly anonymous IP from your service provider’s servers which basically reroute your traffic to some other server in another part of the world, to provide you with a certain level of anonymity.

While it’s true that there are different kinds of VPNs -- those providing simple rerouting and the others that provide in-depth coverage and protection from being traced back, it all depends on the type of VPN you subscribe to. However, the ultimate thing is that a VPN will still provide you with extended protection from being hacked.

Inasmuch as most VPNs are designed to provide security and privacy, there still exists centralized issues to combat when using traditional VPN services. However, a VPN’s data protection compliance processes must take into consideration the implementation of technical, physical, and administrative security measures to protect Personal Data.

As it’s not possible to vouchsafe the complete safety of any central server from vulnerability, there is the absolute need to think outside the box. A decentralized blockchain-based VPN should be the needed antidote as the network will not need to rely on a central point of control. 

The absence of a central authority ensures that hackers will not have an easy entry point to access your IP address, this makes the system naturally fairer and more secure. The way in which data is recorded onto a blockchain encapsulates the very value of decentralization.

It will be expected that a decentralized blockchain-based VPN will go a long way to correct the anomalies experienced from some centralized VPN servers. In combination with a decentralized VPN network, fair prices are expected to be set due to perfect competition.


Photo Credit: Infosec Images Flickr via Compfight cc