Building Blocks, Building Blockchains: How the Oxen Blockchain Works With Session, Lokinet, and Blink
Disclaimer: At the time of writing, Oxen was known as The Loki Project — this piece has been updated to reflect this name change
Oxen is many things: a project, a foundation, an idea. But first and foremost, Oxen is a blockchain. The Oxen blockchain is the backbone of the Oxen Project’s powerful and versatile suite of privacy tools. Every privacy feature, tool, and solution we’re building is linked to or based on the Oxen blockchain in some way. In this article, we’re breaking down the ways that the Oxen blockchain supports our efforts to help you #StayPrivate.
Session: New kid on the blockchain
As long-time Oxen supporters will remember, Session is a fresh coat of paint on an idea that was floating around practically since the inception of Oxen. Session used to be known as Loki Messenger, but while the name and the branding has changed, the vision — a secure anonymous messaging solution which leverages Oxen’s privacy infrastructure — has not. So how does the Oxen blockchain enable Session?
In a nutshell: it’s all about the Service Nodes, baby.
Service Nodes are the backbone of the Oxen blockchain, but they’re also so much more — they’re Session’s secret sauce, for starters. Session relies on Oxen Service Nodes to power its onion routing technology, which we call onion requests. Session messages are relayed through or temporarily stored by a number of servers before arriving at their destinations. And those servers? Oxen Service Nodes.
The Oxen blockchain will also support Session by storing permanent Session username mappings registered via ONS (Oxen Name System) — the username feature is still in the process of being rolled out, but we’ll have more to share on that front soon. Check out our Oxen Docs for more info on registering an ONS mapping
Lokinet: Onion-as-a-Service (Node)
Oxen’s Service Nodes aren’t just supporting Session — these Swiss Army servers are the engines powering Lokinet, our low-latency onion router. Lokinet is an amazingly powerful onion router: it has high enough speed and low enough latency to support real-time audio communications, streaming HD video, and even playing multiplayer games over an onion-routed connection.
So how did we pull it off? Here’s a clue: the solution rhymes with Surface Roads.
Oxen Service Nodes are incredibly versatile — so versatile that not only do they propagate the Oxen blockchain and route Session messages, but every Oxen Service Node also acts as a router for Lokinet! That’s right, every single one of the Oxen Network’s 1000+ Service Nodes also functions as a Lokinet router. And because Oxen Service Nodes are staked and incentivised, they have good reason to relay Lokinet traffic quickly, reliably, and honestly.
There’s another big upside to leveraging the Service Node Network for Lokinet: Sybil attack resistance. As you may know, sybil attacks are when a malicious actor attempts to gain control of a network by controlling a significant percentage of the servers on the network. Because Oxen Service Nodes have a staking requirement as a gateway to network participation, the Oxen Network gains a high degree of market-based resistance to Sybil attacks. If someone were to attempt to stake a large number of Service Nodes — enough to gain control over the network — the price of Oxen would increase as the available supply decreased, making such an attack prohibitively expensive. And if enough Oxen is locked up in Service Node stakes, a Sybil attack would become even harder.
This market-based Sybil resistance is a key part of the Oxen blockchain, and because Lokinet runs on Oxen Service Nodes, Lokinet gains Sybil resistance by proxy. Neat!
Also, just like for Session, the Oxen blockchain will store Lokinet domain name mappings once that feature is ready for public release — though, unlike Session, Lokinet mappings are not permanent.
Blink: The blockchain’s missing (B)link
So, the Oxen blockchain’s Service Nodes power Session and Lokinet. But how do the Service Nodes take $OXEN itself to the next level? One word: Blink.
Blink is Oxen’s revolutionary instant anonymous payment validation system. With Blink, $OXEN transactions can be instantly verified without compromising on security or anonymity. Blink is the first instant anonymous payments system for a CryptoNote-based privacy coin — it’s a pretty incredible achievement. So how did we pull it off?
You guessed it: Service Nodes.
When you make a Blink transaction, the transaction is checked and verified by two randomly-selected ‘quorums’ (groups) of Oxen Service Nodes. If the transaction is voted as valid by those quorums, the Oxen coins show up instantly in the recipient’s wallet, and the transaction is passed to the mempool where it waits to be added to the blockchain like a normal transaction. The really neat part is that when transactions are Blinked, Service Nodes prevent double spending and guarantee that Blink transactions will make it into a block, enabling near-instant transfers without the threat of double spending — and without any loss of privacy or anonymity. Pretty cool stuff! Check out our blog on Blink for more details.
The future is bright
The Oxen blockchain is at the core of everything we’re building here at Oxen. Using the blockchain’s Service Node infrastructure, we’ve delivered a best-in-class anonymous messenger, a low-latency onion router, and the world’s first instant anonymous payments system for a CryptoNote coin. And we’re just getting started. With the upcoming Pulse upgrade, the Oxen network will be leaving mining behind and going full Proof-of-Stake, making Service Nodes even more central to the Oxen blockchain and our on and off-chain product stacks.
We hope you’re just as excited as we are about our vision of the future of privacy tech — a future running on Service Nodes, powered by blockchain.
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