The chances are you haven’t heard of Orchid before. But this revolutionary company could be about to turn the VPN market on its head.
They have just announced the launch of a new decentralized peer-to-peer VPN network which could change the way we use VPNs forever if it takes off.
What is Orchid?
Orchid bills itself as an incentivized, peer-to-peer privacy network. It has developed a new technology, built on blockchain, which it claims will enable users to connect to the internet completely anonymously.
Orchid was founded in 2017 and quickly raised $48 million through two SAFT token sales. Its stated mission at the time was to “build open-source software that keeps the Internet open and accessible—a natural resource for everyone, everywhere.”
Fast forward two years and Orchid has officially arrived. It has been announced that their app, network, and native OXT token will launch in the first week of December.
So how exactly will it work?
A regular VPN provides semi-anonymity by redirecting all your internet data through an external server. This masks your IP Address and effectively makes you partly-anonymous online. The only weakness in the system is that it depends on trusting your VPN provider.
All of our recommended VPNs are trustworthy and many have independent verification of the fact that they do not log any user internet data. But there are some unscrupulous VPNs out there, especially free ones, which cannot be trusted.
VPNs also typically operate within a range of IP Addresses and people will usually pay using a credit card. This means that even if you can’t see someone’s data, you can see that they are using a VPN.
Orchid’s new system takes a different approach.
How Orchid’s decentralised VPN will work
Orchid’s new network will employ a new custom VPN protocol which will run over WebRTC. They claim that this protocol will make Orchid users’ traffic appear very similar to regular internet traffic and therefore make it far harder for unscrupulous governments and hackers to identify it.
They are also ripping up the model of rerouting data through a single VPN server. Instead, their new service will let users route traffic between different VPN servers in a network or choose between multiple VPN servers.
According to Orchid, this will allow them to offer a much more flexible service as well as bring extra security and privacy.
Anyone who signs up to use Orchid will have the option of becoming a VPN provider themselves. They can allow other Orchid users to access their bandwidth and be paid for providing a service. This will allow Orchid to offer a more decentralised service as more and more users sign up.
Then there is the payment method. Some VPNs already accept payments in cryptocurrency as they know privacy-conscious users prefer to use it. Orchid will only accept payment using their own Ethereum-based OXT token
A focus on privacy
It is an intriguing prospect and one which could be revolutionary if it takes off. But that is a big if at the moment.
The current VPN market is a crowded and competitive one. Lots of VPNs are marketing themselves to potential new customers in a range of ways. Privacy is one selling point among many and, for a lot of users, it might not be at the top of their priority list.
If you want a VPN to unblock geo-restricted content around the world, to watch Netflix overseas, or to access censored content, a regular VPN is still probably going to be your best bet.
If you want a VPN that is simple to use and requires no manual set up or technical understanding, but can be connected with a single click, a regular VPN is still your best option.
If privacy is your top priority, a recommend VPN will offer you a lot of protection, but Orchid promise to take things even further.
If you are an opposition politician in Russia, a journalist in Communist China, or a human rights campaigner in Iran, the enhanced privacy provision offered by Orchid might really appeal. Assuming their service delivers on its promises.
Decentralisation is likely to play a big part in the future of the internet and of VPNs especially. Orchid could be a trailblazer for this. But it is early days and Orchid will do well to attract many regular VPN users away from their current providers in the short term.
But progress depends on innovation and there is no doubt that Orchid’s new technology is innovative. Whether it can translate to the mainstream remains to be seen.