Previewing RTrade’s Decentralized, Privacy-Focused (dVPN)

This article originally appeared on RTrade Technologies’ Medium page.

RTrade is excited to share a sneak-peek into our truly decentralized anonymous virtual private network (dVPN) that combines both privacy and performance to provide traceless security.

In a digital era that requires privacy more than ever before, VPNs have been relied upon to provide an essential step in digital privacy. By encrypting traffic between a client and the host VPN server, users have been enabled some level of privacy. However, due to the popularity of VPN services, the tracing and blocking of these servers by the government have become commonplace, allowing Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to detect if their customers are using a VPN.

With dVPN RTrade has created a service that enables a powerful missing addition to VPN security, only revealing a “middle hop” between the VPN server and client (This does not reveal information about the provider of the VPN to network monitors and no one can track what exit node a user is on). This can be any one of tens of thousands of devices around the world, none of which are associated with the service. This provides real traceless privacy that outside entities like ISPs will not be able to detect. By hopping through multiple random nodes in a vast network that is always obfuscated, we are able to provide secure data transportation at all times. The client and the server are both capable of controlling the hops on their respective sides, making it impossible for misconfigured or malicious services to degrade the anonymity of the client.

RTrades dVPN service also uses the I2P network to transport communication. By doing so, the network channel inherits the I2P network’s censorship-resistant properties. The communication itself will be obfuscated and “unclassifiable” to known deep-packet inspection devices. The connections made using peers in the I2P network are self-sustaining once bootstrapped, which also helps in protecting users from detection from ISPs and other outside authorities. Every person who uses our VPN is also contributing to the anonymity of the other users and the network itself.

What is I2P?

I2P is an anonymous network, which uses mixing and onion-routing to establish anonymous tunnels between peers on the internal network. Those peers can host any service and make it addressable over I2P. I2P can allow everyone can create any content, they wish to insert and retrieve any available content. I2P has a un-spoofable addressing system; each address corresponds to a unique cryptographic key, making it effectively a pseudonym. It is easy to create a new key and make a new address (called a destination), and it is easy to discard an old address. I2P is also substrate for other applications to communicate anonymously, with API’s and libraries to interact with the I2P network in ways that are very similar to traditional TCP and UDP connections. (Learn more about I2P)

Decentralized Privacy

All modern commercial VPNs require the user to trust the VPN provider, which represents a central point of failure. In order to avoid concerns about VPN providers sharing account information or manipulating users, RTrade has designed a system that anonymously routes all incoming and outgoing user data.

This anonymous routing is enforced from both the client and the server side, with each choosing a single hop from a network within tens-of-thousands of nodes (no one can track what exit node a user is on). Both the client and the server are only addressable by self-authenticating, end-to-end encrypted tunnels, and never by public IP address. This allows for communications that are unclassifiable to deep packet inspection without leaving any record of account information that could be linked to the end-user.

We are proud to offer our daVPN for free as we ourselves use and contribute to free software as well. We have also chosen to license our server components under the GNU Affero General Public License 3.0. in order to require that derivatives of this software also be free to all. While users are also free to clone this software, we will not be contributing to any offshoots of the project.

In exchange for RTrade’s daVPN services we accept multiple cryptocurrencies, including our own RTCoin.

Recommended Software

When it comes to protecting your privacy online, services like daVPN provide robust privacy protection but can ultimately be undone by poor software choices. We can only control the software we write, which means users must make informed decisions regarding the software they choose to use online. In a world full of supercookies and tracking techniques that are capable of following users across multiple websites, browser selection is a critical decision for any user that values their privacy.

Unfortunately, we cannot stop major corporations like Facebook, Microsoft, and Google from attempting to track you. However, we can provide you with the tools to deny their attempts. In light of this, we believe it is important to recommend software that is developed in a responsible, socially-conscious way.

Recommended Web Browsers

We recommend either Firefox, its security-first fork Tor Browser, or the privacy-focused Brave browser which is based on Chromium. Each option has its own drawbacks and benefits, however, all three are browsing options that will maintain your privacy and security across the internet a little bit more then otherss.

Firefox

Firefox is a community web browser developed in the interest of a healthier, respectful web. Firefox should be combined with the “HTTPS Everywhere” extension and an ad-blocker of your choice. Tor, a security-focused version of Firefox, takes privacy protection a step further through its innovative onion routing technology.

Brave Browser

Brave Browser is a new Chromium-based web browser that has integrated privacy enhancements including ad-blocking, auto-play prevention, and Tor functionality. Brave also comes loaded with IPFS compatibility.

Brave recently published a paper regarding the company’s plans to develop its own decentralized VPN network that has the potential to be integrated with Basic Attention Token (BAT) to provide an incentive for users that carry anonymous traffic. While we commend Brave for continuing to contribute to the future of the decentralized and anonymous web, we feel that I2P functions including multi-hop obfuscation provide a superior means of anonymization.

Torrents

RTrade does not intend to provide an official torrent client recommendation, however, we have decided to provide a free plugin for BiglyBT which is capable of detecting our VPN interface in order to use it as its sole connection, adapting Mullvad’s instructions for qBittorrent. Other client users can check with our documentation for additional information regarding configuration.

Similarly, IPFS users can take advantage of our plugin which will detect the VPN and attach itself to the interface only, bootstrapping off of our IPFS nodes within I2P. IPFS connections will only be established with nodes within the shared I2P VPN for IPFS connections. This is why it is necessary to accommodate “gratis” connections for specific applications unrelated to the VPN product in which we charge a premium for units of anonymized bandwidth. This is a different model than our VPN software library, which we use to write other applications without duplicating effort. Our VPN software library is open source and free to use, which helps to anonymize IPFS as a whole.

About RTrade Technologies

Founded in 2017, RTrade has quickly become one of the most advanced peer-to-peer software development companies in Canada. RTrade is working with industry leaders to revolutionize the blockchain space through decentralized technologies. RTrade has shown its continued dedication to helping build the next generation of the internet, with a current focus on private networks, data storage, and data monitoring systems that enable easy integration