“The Privacy Layer of the New Internet” – Interview with Claudia Diaz, Chief Scientist of New York City

We recently had the opportunity to speak with Claudia Diaz, Chief Scientist at Nym, a project that is creating the next generation of privacy infrastructure for the internet. Dr. Diaz is also an Associate Professor in the COSIC research group at the Department of Electrical Engineering (ESAT) at KU Leuven, where she leads the Privacy Technologies team: Metadata Protection against Surveillance, Traffic Analysis, Tracking, Localization and Analysis.

Before we start our interview, we would like to thank Dr. Diaz for taking the time to answer our questions about Nym.

1. What is your elevator pitch for Nym? In other words, how would you describe the benefits of Nym to the average internet user?

Nym is the privacy layer of the new internet. We are building tools that provide privacy by default to everyone who uses Crypto communications, whether they are human rights activists, members of civil society, or everyday web users.

Nym achieves this through our hybrid network and advanced encryption, and we are building simple and frictionless integrations to ensure privacy is available to everyone, regardless of their technical ability or knowledge. We want to see an internet free from surveillance and coercion by states or corporations.

2. From your perspective, is Nym’s main innovation the economic incentive for users to maintain the network, or the privacy technology itself?

Nym’s function is to protect Internet users. Our utility token, NYM, is a tool that helps us achieve this by ensuring the sustainability and scalability of the network.

3. Is the Nym network scalable enough to meet a wide range of needs? How many users can Nym support?

Nym can scale to meet demand because it provides a market for private bandwidth: the increased demand funds the additional hybrid nodes needed to provide the additional bandwidth, which is achieved by selecting more hybrid nodes to participate in routing packets. This is in stark contrast to volunteer-run services, where an increase in demand does not necessarily translate into an increase in network resources and capacity to meet that demand.

4. Is running a Nym node accessible to regular users, or does it require significant capital or technical knowledge?

Running a hybrid node currently requires some technical know-how, but the barriers to entry are low and we are working to make it more accessible. Our Shipyard grants program is actively funding people who want to run hybrid nodes or build PEApps – any interested parties are strongly encouraged to apply, and funding is delivered quickly.

5. How can users interested in Nym participate in the network?

You can now get involved in a number of key ways. We’re specifically looking for someone to run a gateway and network supplicant pair so we can support more applications through NymConnect, and our one-click interface can be used for privacy-enhancing applications. It is currently available for Electrum and Keybase, followed by Telegram. Again, check the shipyard for financing opportunities.

6. In a hypothetical scenario where a malicious party controls most of the nodes in the network, would user privacy be compromised?

In this case, the privacy properties will be weakened. Such a malicious party would be able to learn which gateways have users connecting to which services, and when those connections occurred. Note, however, that client IP addresses will still be protected because hybrid nodes do not interact directly with clients, clients only connect to the hybrid network through a gateway of their choice. Additionally, all information content is still protected by end-to-end encryption.

Nym’s staking is designed to make it difficult for malicious parties to control the large number of hybrid nodes active in a hybrid network. Mixnet nodes are elected as part of a mixed network proportional to their stake, so a malicious party wanting to populate a mixnet would need to buy a large amount of nym stake (which is expensive), or convince a large number of delegates to support a large number of malicious nodes (which is difficult because Many legitimate nodes are also vying for this delegated stake).

7. According to Nym’s website, Nym can provide network-level privacy for blockchains such as Bitcoin. Can you quickly elaborate on how to achieve this in practice?

Routing a blockchain transaction through the Nym mixnet protects its metadata, so there is no way to connect a user’s IP address to a user’s blockchain transaction. If this communication metadata is unprotected and available to network adversaries, it can be leveraged to identify users and link them to their transactions.

8. As the chief scientist of the Nym project, what is your current priority?

My current primary research focus is to figure out the details of the mechanism we design for fully decentralized hybrid node performance measurement.

Source of information: Compiled from COINCODEX by 0x information.The copyright belongs to the author and may not be reproduced without permission

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