Blockchain Adoption: Nym, Chainsafe Bring Enhanced Privacy to Ethereum Validators

Nym, a network layer privacy provider, has announced a Nym integration with Ethereum validators and even clients “to provide network-level privacy to the entire ecosystem.”

A libp2p module “enables over half a million Ethereum validators worldwide to shield transactions via the Nym mixnet.”

The module will “prevent Ethereum validators from leaking their IP addresses and metadata, protecting them from DDoS attacks.” The first implementation is “being written for the Lighthouse consensus client, in collaboration with Chainsafe, a blockchain development and engineering solutions firm.”

Harry Halpin, CEO of Nym Technologies, said:

“Ethereum is the least private of blockchain networks currently, endangering users who may have their IP address harvested as well as validators themselves. Ethereum’s new proof-of-stake consensus protocol is vulnerable to denial-of-service attacks, as described by Adam Back and others as early as 2001 in the paper Traffic Analysis Attacks and Trade-Offs in Anonymity Providing Systems.”

Ethereum’s transition to a PoS consensus last year “requires increased coordination and traffic between validators, which exposes systems sensitive information, notably giving advanced information on which validator will be the block proposer for a given slot.”

The mixnet integration for Ethereum consensus clients “anonymize this traffic between validators, thereby solving vulnerabilities to DDoS attacks, MEV bots and even helping prevent the censorship of transactions.”

Following the revelations of how user data was being handled by node infrastructure providers and wallets, the issue of privacy in Web3 “became more pressing than ever before.”

At his talk in ETHDenver, Harry Halpin demonstrated “how the Nym mixnet can also be used with Metamask to prevent the harvesting of a user’s IP address.”

Elizabeth Binks, Privacy Engineering Lead at ChainSafe, said:

“We are incredibly proud to be collaborating with Nym to make Ethereum and libp2p more private, enabling a new wave of innovation with mixnet capabilities. This is a massive step towards the vision of a privacy preserving Ethereum.” 

Further work will continue to ensure improved functionality, “including low latency and ease of configuration to ensure scalability as the validator count is predicted to increase exponentially after the impending Shanghai Upgrade.”

Decentralized systems are particularly “prone to network layer vulnerabilities due to the sheer volume of traffic that has to pass between nodes.”

This makes privacy “for key infrastructure operations essential for the overall security of decentralized systems.”

The Nym mixnet, which is chain agnostic, “provides metadata protections for the security of both people as well as nodes.”

As noted in the update, Nym is “an open-source, incentivized, and decentralized platform that protects privacy at the network level of any application, wallet or digital service.”

Nym protects “against traffic pattern analysis and metadata surveillance.”

As mentioned in the announcement, ChainSafe claims it is “a leading blockchain research and development firm specializing in infrastructure solutions for web3.”

Alongside contributions to ecosystems such as Ethereum, Polkadot, Filecoin, and more, ChainSafe creates solutions “for developers and teams across the web3 space utilizing our expertise in gaming, bridging, NFTs, and decentralized storage.”

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