What Is Nym (NYM) - the Crypto Privacy Project?
Tech Deep Dives

What Is Nym (NYM) - the Crypto Privacy Project?

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CoinMarketCap dives into Nym, a privacy project that started way back in 2018.

What Is Nym (NYM) - the Crypto Privacy Project?

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One of the core tenets of the crypto philosophy is the right to privacy, which is something that online users have historically had very little of when they interact with their Web2 overlords. In some authoritarian regimes, this can make them a target for persecution or even jail.

While privacy coins have historically been a tough sell due to increased scrutiny from regulators both in the US and EU intent on reducing money laundering and terrorism financing, they still matter greatly when used for the right purposes.
Nym is a privacy project that started way back in 2018. Since then it has been working hard to solve this for web users and has since attracted the likes of whistleblower Chelsea Manning as a result.
Here is a deep dive to explain how its innovative system, which includes features like a mixnet, NymVPN (coming soon), Nym wallet for the NYM token, and “zknyms”, work together to protect your anonymity.
Also, stick around to the end to see you get some free NYM as part of the CoinMarketCap x Nym airdrop, which runs from 2 to 17 May 2024.

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What Is Nym?

Nym is a decentralized, open-source, and permissionless infrastructure for privacy-preserving applications. Founded by scientist Harry Halpin and boasting a team of expert computer scientists, Nym aims to provide network-level privacy for users in the age of mass surveillance and data harvesting.

Through the most advanced blockchain and cryptography technology, Nym is building a mixnet, or a mixed network (first proposed by crypto godfather David Chaum), that encrypts metadata and protects user identity across various applications.

Its full-stack privacy system allows developers to hook their existing applications to the Nym platform to safeguard their users at the network level via Nym mixnet and application layer via Nym private credentials.

Despite a rocky launch in 2018’s dismal bear market, Nym has since received millions of dollars in investment from a strong stable of VC firms including:

  • Binance Labs
  • a16z,
  • Polychain Capital
  • NGC Ventures
  • Fenbushi Capital
  • Maven11 Capital
  • Lemniscap

Nym's Key Pillars

Decentralized Mixnet

At the core of Nym is a decentralized mixnet, which is a network of nodes that mix and route internet traffic. This makes it nearly impossible to trace the origin or destination of data packets.
Current internet protocols have been known to leak sensitive data that can be used without users knowledge, most notably Cambridge Analytica. The Nym mixnet protects IP addresses and traffic patterns, and can be integrated to any blockchain, wallet or app with Nym Connect.

The Nym mixnet is operated by a global community of node operators who are incentivized through the native NYM token to provide reliable and secure privacy services.

How does Nym provide privacy?

  • When a user sends data through the Nym mixnet, their traffic is encrypted and routed through multiple nodes, each of which adds a layer of encryption and mixes the traffic with that of other users.
  • This process effectively obfuscates the metadata, such as IP addresses, making it nearly impossible for adversaries to link the sender and receiver of the data. By employing this advanced cryptographic technique, Nym ensures that users' online activities remain private and anonymous, protecting them from surveillance and data harvesting.

NYM token

The NYM token plays a crucial role in ensuring the economic sustainability and security of the Nym network. Node operators must stake NYM tokens to participate in the mixnet and are rewarded based on their performance and reputation. This tokenized model aligns the interests of all stakeholders and prevents operators from "selling out" their users' privacy.

Privacy-Preserving Applications

Nym enables developers to build a wide range of privacy-preserving applications, from secure messaging and anonymous payments to private data sharing and decentralized governance. Some notable applications in the Nym ecosystem include:

- NymVPN: A decentralized VPN service that routes traffic through the Nym mixnet, protecting user metadata and preventing IP address tracking.
- Nym Credentials: A zero-knowledge proof system that allows users to prove their identity or attributes without revealing sensitive information.
- Nym Wallet: A privacy-focused wallet that enables anonymous transactions and staking of NYM tokens.

We’ll discuss these in more detail further down.

Open-Source, Permissionless and Interoperable

Nym is built on the principles of transparency and inclusivity. All software is open-source, allowing anyone to audit, contribute to, or build upon the codebase. Moreover, the network is permissionless, meaning that anyone can run a Nym node or develop privacy-preserving applications without seeking permission from a central authority.

The project can provide network-level privacy for various blockchain networks. While many blockchains offer transaction privacy through techniques like zero-knowledge proofs or ring signatures, they still leak metadata at the network layer. By integrating with Nym, blockchain projects can achieve a higher level of privacy and security for their users.

Nym has already partnered with several prominent blockchain projects, such as Ethereum, Polkadot, and Cosmos, to explore privacy solutions at the infrastructure level. These collaborations could pave the way for a new generation of privacy-preserving decentralized applications (dApps) across different blockchain ecosystems.

What Is NymVPN?

NymVPN is a decentralized virtual private network (VPN) service built on Nym that offers users enhanced online privacy and security. Unlike traditional VPNs, which often rely on centralized servers and can potentially log user data, NymVPN routes traffic through the decentralized Nym mixnet. This means that users' internet traffic is encrypted and mixed with that of other users, making it virtually impossible to trace the origin or destination of data packets.
Something that sets NymVPN apart from other solutions is its integration with zk-nyms, or zero-knowledge Nym credentials. This allows users to access the VPN service without revealing their personal information or payment details, ensuring a high level of privacy. NymVPN also employs a tokenized ecosystem, where users can pay for the service using the native NYM token, further enhancing the anonymity of transactions.
With NymVPN, users can browse the internet, access geo-restricted content, and communicate online with the assurance that their privacy is protected by cutting-edge cryptography and blockchain technology.

NymVPN runs on a decentralized network. Decentralization enables strong privacy properties making it near-impossible to trace your traffic through the internet. But NymVPN is not just a dVPN, it also features mixnet technology: a novel feature ensuring unlinkability and strong privacy protections of not just the content of your messages but also your metadata.

The Nym mixnet in action via NymVPN’s 5-hop mixnet mode

Mixnets are a unique privacy technology that have only now, after years of research, become available to ordinary people. By shuffling your traffic through a stratified network of nodes and shuffling the order of packets, your patterns of communication vanish and become untraceable to unwanted observers. NymVPN is the first user-friendly application built on the Nym network and the first app to allow a viable usage of mixnets for everyday users. As plug-and-play privacy-as-a-service infrastructure across the transport layer of the internet, the mixnet will in time be folded into browsers, search engines, and blockchains across the Web3 ecosystem. Read more about mixnets here.

Combining the best of both worlds, NymVPN has two distinct modes in one simple application:

The NymVPN 2-hop dVPN mode:

  • Optimized for speed;
  • Customisable entry and exit nodes for circumventing geo blocking;
  • IP address obfuscation for everyday browsing, streaming, or gaming;
  • Multi-hop by default, going far beyond the privacy standards of most VPNs.

The NymVPN 5-hop mixnet mode:

  • Optimized for privacy;
  • Complete privacy against even government-level adversaries for sensitive use cases like crypto transactions and secure email that are not timing sensitive;
  • No more metadata leakage of timing and volume of packets;
  • Traffic analysis resistance via packet shuffling and dummy traffic in inner-three mix nodes.

Nym is trustless, permissionless, and totally transparent. Unlike traditional VPNs where you have to trust that the provider isn’t spying on your communications, Nym’s full stack is decentralized and open source with gateways and mix nodes dispersed all around the world.

How Nym Credentials Work

Nym Credentials is tackling the problem of centralized identity providers like Facebook and Google having too much control over our personal data. With Nym's open-source libraries, developers can easily add privacy-friendly authentication to their apps and services.

This means you can securely sign in and share only the necessary info, without worrying about your data being linked across different platforms. The coolest part? It's all designed to work seamlessly in decentralized environments, especially in Europe, giving you more control over your digital identity.

Nym Wallet and NYM Staking

The Nym Wallet is a privacy-focused wallet designed to work seamlessly with the Nym Protocol ecosystem. It allows users to securely store, send, and receive NYM tokens while maintaining a high level of anonymity. By integrating with the Nym mixnet and zk-nym credentials, the Nym Wallet ensures that user transactions and balances remain private and untraceable.

An important element of Nym Wallet is its support for anonymous staking. Users can stake their NYM tokens to support the network's decentralization and earn rewards without revealing their identity or compromising their privacy. The wallet's intuitive interface and robust security measures make it an essential tool for anyone seeking to participate in the Nym Protocol ecosystem while preserving their financial privacy.

How Do Zk-Nyms Work?

Zk-nyms, or zero-knowledge Nym credentials, are a privacy-preserving solution that allows users to access digital services without revealing sensitive information. Built on the Coconut protocol, zk-nyms enable users to anonymously prove their right to access online services, make private financial transactions, and authenticate themselves without exposing personal data.

This technology has applications in e-cash payments, self-sovereign identity, and privacy-preserving authentication. Nym employs zk-nyms for its mixnet credentials, ensuring that users can access and pay for the mixnet while maintaining their privacy.

The Team Behind Nym

Nym is backed by a team of accomplished cryptographers, computer scientists, and blockchain experts. The project's CEO and co-founder, Harry Halpin, is a renowned privacy advocate who has worked on web cryptography standards at the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) and taught at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

Other notable team members include:

- Claudia Diaz (Chief Scientist): A leading researcher in the field of privacy-enhancing technologies and anonymous communication systems.

- Dave Hrycyszyn (CTO): An experienced software architect with a background in distributed systems and cryptography.

- Chelsea Manning (Security Analyst): A former U.S. Army intelligence analyst and whistleblower who advocates for transparency and privacy rights.

Roadmap: What's next for Nym?

As of April 2024, Nym's roadmap focuses on expanding its ecosystem and driving adoption. It is focused on supporting enterprise use-cases and driving institutional adoption by partnering with popular apps like Signal, Google, and Brave.

It will also pursue key integrations in the fintech, IoT, medical, and personal data sectors, pushing for integration into browsers and operating systems, standardizing its technology at IETF, and optimizing its secure hardware and network stack.

For Q2 2024, key milestones include the launch of the decentralized NymVPN service, enabling users to access the internet privately and securely.

In Q3, Nym plans to integrate its zero-knowledge credentials (zk-nyms) into popular wallets and exchanges, promoting privacy in user authentication. Scaling the network to support millions of users and thousands of nodes is a priority for Q4 and beyond, ensuring low latency and high throughput.

Ongoing collaborations with blockchain projects, internet service providers, and tech companies will help establish Nym as a leading privacy solution in the Web3 ecosystem.

CoinMarketCap x $NYM Airdrop (May 2 - May 17, 2024)

Nym has teamed up with CoinMarketCap to host an exciting airdrop event to celebrate the upcoming launch of the decentralized NymVPN service and increase awareness about the project's innovative privacy solutions.

The CoinMarketCap x $NYM Airdrop, which runs from May 2, 2024, to May 17, 2024, offers 200 lucky winners the chance to share a prize pool of 80,000 NYM tokens.

To participate in the airdrop, follow these simple steps:

To be eligible for the $20K in NYM airdrop you must:

  1. Sign up to get exclusive access to the private alpha
  2. Follow on X https://twitter.com/nymproject
  3. Add $NYM to your CoinMarketCap watchlist
  4. Like, comment, and share Nym’s last 5 posts on Nym’s CMC community page
  5. Tweet about the airdrop, tag @nymproject

By completing these tasks, you'll be eligible to win a share of the 80,000 NYM token prize pool and join the growing community of privacy advocates supporting Nym's mission to provide cutting-edge privacy solutions for the Web3 era.

Conclusion

Nym is at the forefront of the battle for online privacy, offering a decentralized, open-source, and permissionless solution to the growing threats of surveillance and data exploitation. By combining state-of-the-art cryptography with the incentive mechanisms of blockchain technology, Nym is building a robust and sustainable ecosystem for privacy-preserving applications.

As the demand for privacy and data sovereignty continues to grow, projects like Nym will play an increasingly crucial role in shaping the future of the internet. By empowering developers, users, and organizations with the tools to protect their metadata and maintain their anonymity, Nym is paving the way for a more secure, transparent, and equitable digital world.

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