In our last blog, we answered the question of what a dVPN is and what this means for the VPN industry. Sentinel, though, is much more than just a consumer-facing VPN. It's an ecosystem of dVPN applications – and a platform for developers to build their own.
Sentinel's vision goes far beyond shaking up the VPN industry. Their ultimate goal is universal access to the Internet in a trustless and provable way. Like all of us at D-Web, they've seen the rapid increase in internet surveillance and data collection and want to do something about it.
The Basics of Sentinel
At its core, Sentinel is a collection of automatically executing “smart contracts” that allow users to securely and anonymously access the internet. Transaction fees are paid to the Sentinel “validators” for the service of using their computing power for supporting the network. Additionally, people can “sell” their unused, excess bandwidth provided by their ISP to Sentinel users.
Unlike the majority of decentralized apps, which are built on the Ethereum network, Sentinel is built on the Cosmos blockchain. Think of Cosmos (and Ethereum) as a “decentralized computer” that executes the Sentinel smart contract “code”, similar to how your computer runs applications like your web browser.
The advantage of using the Cosmos network for this core architecture is that it is built with interoperability as its main principle, meaning blockchains and decentralized apps built on this network can all communicate. For an app like Sentinel, which envisions itself as a hub that allows a variety of dVPN apps to be created and operated, interoperability is key.
Sentinel runs on top of Cosmos with its own protocol and its own token, DVPN. The DVPN token powers the whole Sentinel Network. It is how Sentinel users pay to access the Network, and how Sentinel validators and bandwidth providers are compensated. Basically, DVPN is the medium of exchange that drives the Network and makes it sustainable.
On one side, developers can build public and private applications using the Network's bandwidth, which they buy on the Sentinel marketplace. On the other side, anyone can sell their bandwidth to power the Sentinel Network and get rewarded with tokens for doing so. This model incentivizes everyone to create and maintain Sentinel without a centralized entity collecting and selling private information for a profit (which is how many mainstream VPNs work right now).
Who's Who in the Sentinel Ecosystem?
As we’ve just covered, there are three key stakeholders in the Sentinel ecosystem: End Users, Node Hosts, and Validators.
The End User’s role is straightforward: they use DVPN tokens to anonymously and securely access the Internet. By following one such End User’s journey, we can see how all the stakeholders work together.
Whenever an End User wants to access a dVPN built on Sentinel, they interact with a network of Node Hosts. Spread across the globe, these nodes are powered by community members who monetize (in effect, 'rent out') their unused bandwidth in return for DVPN tokens. Within the Sentinel Network, there are two types of Node Host: Relay Nodes and Exit Nodes, and it’s important to distinguish between the two.
Exit Nodes communicate not only with users but also with web servers on the internet. Relay Nodes, by contrast, only communicate with the user, other Relay Nodes, or the Exit Node – as in the diagram below:
Crucially, this differs from most VPNs. Mainstream VPN applications tend to control the Exit Node and the Relay Nodes, which undermines privacy and anonymity for End Users. Sentinel’s decentralized network prevents this from happening.
In addition, the Sentinel Network is further secured by the Validators. They validate, or confirm, transactions on the underlying Cosmos blockchain, securing the network and participating in the governance of the Sentinel ecosystem. Together, the Validators and Node Hosts enable the End Users to access the dVPN apps built on the Sentinel Network.
It’s worth noting that while we believe Sentinel will revolutionize the VPN industry, the project is still at an early stage. Right now, there are a limited number of nodes and dVPNs, and bandwidth mining is still in development. In the future, though, there's the potential for all kinds of applications – because dVPNs are just the first application of Sentinel's technology.
In the long run, Sentinel offers an entire ecosystem for building secure, decentralized networks, which lays the foundations for a freer, more open Internet – one free from mass data collection and surveillance. At D-Web Technologies, we're excited to be part of making that vision a reality.Join us on the journey at dweb.net