Nym now allows bitcoin transactions and has an incentive program for people running its nodes. It is also enabling plugins that will allow users to plug in wallets and applications to run their traffic through its mixnet.
Nym is a start-up software project working to obscure metadata tracking at a network level via the mixnet it enables. The mixnet itself is hosted by a decentralized network of volunteers.
On a normal internet network, most traffic can be tracked. Browsers like Tor offer a degree of protection against network surveillance by running traffic through a number of relays to obscure a user’s location and usage. Such networks are still susceptible to metadata observation, however, meaning highly capable adversaries like the National Security Agency in the U.S. are able to see the timing of data packages being sent across a network to get an idea of what’s going on, even if they can’t see the actual contents of the packages.
A mix network or “mixnet,” on the other hand, (taking its name from the proxy servers it employs, called “mixes”) obscures the metadata left behind when data passes through a network.
Nym has largely been focusing on its testnet, with node operators hosting them as a labor of love. Now, Nym will compensate operators using bitcoin. One way it offers rewards is through L-BTC on the Liquid sidechain using the Blockstream Green wallet. Liquid offers on-chain privacy using confidential transactions, which obscure the amounts being paid. For those who don’t have or want a Blockstream Green wallet, Nym will reward operators with BTC because Nym doesn’t want to force anyone to adopt a particular wallet. It will also be launching an incentivized bounty program to test the network’s strength.
Nym is also launching its own reputation system, NYMPH, which lets it and node operators keep track of which mixnodes are online and mixing data packs, even across multiple chains.
The company is also adding greater functionality for running transactions and web traffic over its mixnet. Nym is plug-and-play replacement for Tor for any wallet that supports SOCKS5, or any application that supports SOCKS5. SOCKS is a protocol that exchanges network packets between device and server via a proxy. What Nym does is, just like Tor, start a SOCKS5 client up on your local machine. You send all your traffic from the app there. It transforms it into Sphinx packets (the same format Lightning uses, but invented for mixnets) and sends the traffic through the Nym mixne
Team will get into building the Nym codebase and running nodes in the next section. Before team do so, a note on token incentives.
Team are starting to test out the incentives structure for running Nym nodes. At present, incentives apply only to mixnodes and may not reflect how the incentives structure will be on mainnet. Over the next few releases, it will extend to validators and gateways as well.
The Nym network has some of the same overall goals as Tor. But team want to enable Nym to scale in response to increased demand (and shrink when demand drops, so as not to waste resources). To do this in a decentralized way, nodes will be included in the network once they have a certain amount of reputation. Reputation is gained over time by running a node and providing reliable service.
Over the past few weeks, team have been doing incentives signup manually, using web forms. Rewards have been given out using a trial reputation token called
NYMPH, which exists on both the Ethereum and Liquid blockchains.
In this release (v0.9.x), team have gotten rid of the web signup forms. You can register your node for NYMPH tokens during the
upgrade process. Rewards will still be given out manually, but the Nym network will now be automatically monitoring your nodes for uptime and mixing capability using a new component, the
nym-network-monitor. This checks your node once a minute to ensure it is up and properly mixing packets.
Your node reputation score (which NYMPH rewards are derived from) are based on the results given by the network monitor. This is shown on the Nym testnet explorer at https://testnet-explorer.nymtech.net. Note that the NYMPH token rewards are based on the reputation score of your node, but having 4000 reputation doesn’t mean you get 4000 nyms - team’re still working out the reward rates. Reputation goes up if your node is mixing correctly, and down if your node is mixing incorrectly.Both IPv4 and IPv6 routing must work in order for your reputation to rise.
Team are still in testnet and using NYMPH token for testing out rewards. For coding ease, this token is called “NYM” on the Cosmos testnet chain. In upcoming releases, team will eventually launch a mainnet token NYM.
This page details how to build the main Nym platform code, in Rust. If you want to build and run a validator, go here instead.
Nym runs on Mac OS X, Linux, and Windows. Windows should be considered experimental - it works fine if you’re an app developer but isn’t recommended for running nodes.
sudo apt install pkg-config build-essential libssl-dev curl jq.
cargo. Stable works.
Team recommend using the Rust shell script installer. Installing cargo from your package manager (e.g.
apt) is not recommended as the packaged versions are usually too old.
If you really don’t want to use the shell script installer, the Rust installation docs contain instructions for many platforms.
To download and build the Nym platform (mixnode, gateway and clients):
rustup update git clone https://github.com/nymtech/nym.git cd nym git reset --hard # in case you made any changes on your branch git pull # in case you've checked it out before # # Note: the default branch you clone from Github, `develop`, is guaranteed to be # broken and incompatible with the running testnet at all times. You *must* # `git checkout tags/v0.9.0` in order to join the testnet. # git checkout tags/v0.9.0 cargo build --release
The above commands will compile binaries into the
Quite a bit of stuff gets built. The key working parts are:
If you run into trouble, please ask for help in the channel nymtech.friends#general on KeyBase.
Nym validators secure the network with a staking token, defending the network from Sybil attacks.
Validators also provide privacy-enhanced credentials based on the testimony of a set of decentralized, blockchain-based issuing authorities. Nym validators use a signature scheme called Coconut to issue credentials. This allows Peaps to generate anonymous resource claims through decentralised authorities, then use them with Service Providers.
New network monitor, which checks that mix nodes are honestly reporting their uptime, is now completed and about to be deployed in time for the Hackers Conference Paraleli Polis. With that crucial piece done, validators are now being actively worked on and team will be able to test out validators fairly soon.
So if you want to be part of this journey, earn NYMPH tokens or be included in the future bounties, set up a node by following the instructions and fill this form with your L-BTC (Liquid Bitcoin) address. The latter process will be automated in next release.
Team will be holding weekly sessions to help onboard more people to test the mixnet. To get to know about those sessions, bounties, or news about the coming NYM token, join Telegram channel.