Nym, a next-generation privacy infrastructure, today announced the details of its “Finney” testnet, opening the network to anyone that wants to run a node. Nym’s Finney testnet grew to over 3,500 Mix Nodes in two weeks, rivaling the pace of growth of established networks such as Tor; used by many Bitcoin projects. Unlike Tor and VPNs, Nym Mix Nodes fuse packets on the individual level, offering improved privacy against powerful adversaries.
Backed by Binance Labs and the Interchain Foundation, Nym launched its initial testnet in 2020. As anyone could join, a Sybil attack increased the network to over 12,000 nodes – twice the size of Tor – overnight in November 2020. To defeat Sybil attacks, the team transitioned to the new Finney testnet that uses a staking token, HAL, to stake their initial reputation using the Tendermint blockchain and the cutting-edge Rust-based Cosmos implementation. This transition removed the Sybil nodes from the previous network and now allows anyone who can claim a unique Telegram name to spin up a Mix Node.
The Finney Mixnet and its HAL token are named after Hal Finney, a famous cypherpunk that received the first Bitcoin transaction from Satoshi Nakamoto in 2009. Hal was a strong proponent of adding privacy and anonymity to the Bitcoin network.
Sam Hart Grant Manager of the Interchain Foundation, the non-profit behind Cosmos, said, “Nym brings together state of the art anonymity research and distributed systems engineering to create technology that empowers civil society. The Interchain Foundation anticipates many Cosmos projects will integrate Nym’s network-level anonymity capabilities, but Nym also represents a milestone for private peer-to-peer communications and an opportunity for mix networks to finally enter the mainstream.”
Nym is an open-source, decentralized, permissionless, and incentivized system that provides full-stack privacy, allowing developers to build applications that provide users with strong guarantees against metadata surveillance, at both the level of network traffic, and the level of authentication and payments. Nym’s team is comprised of leading research scientists and developers helming from world-class universities Massachusetts Institute of Technology, KU Leuven, and University College London.
Dave Hrycyszyn, the CTO of Nym, added, “This is the biggest release we’ve ever had. Using a Cosmos SDK-based currency will allow us to open up the network but ensure it remains resistant to Sybil attacks. We were hit with one of those a few months ago, and although it was fun to see our architecture keep functioning as it scaled from 500 up to 12,000 nodes, we need to be able to keep a lid on things and keep the quality of service high for our users.”
The next steps for Nym’s Finney testnet over this month will be to implement the reward-sharing and proof-of-mixing algorithm in the whitepaper, which will cause the testnet to shrink to a smaller number of high capacity nodes in order to ensure a high quality of service. However, all nodes will then be allowed to use delegated staking in order to vote for best-performing nodes.