What Is Kovri?

Not too long ago, we had to clarify some misconceptions regarding the recent Monero node IP leaks. It was mentioned that this would become a non-issue in the future thanks to the development of the Kovri protocol. Now is a good time to explore what this project entails exactly and how it will affect the Monero ecosystem in the future. More anonymity technology can only be considered a good thing in this day and age of censorship and mass surveillance.

A Closer Look at Kovri

As one would expect from any project related to Monero, the main focus of Kovri is anonymity and privacy. Up to this point, no cryptocurrency has come even close to providing complete anonymity or privacy, even though Monero has made a strong case for itself in this regard. However, there is always room for improvement, which is part of the reason Kovri was created in the first place. This new free and decentralized anonymity technology will shake things up quite a bit, to say the least.

In its current state, Kovri is based on the I2P open specification. That makes a lot of sense, as open source tools are often great resources for building other solutions. It is also part of the reason why Kovri itself is open source, as it will not just be of great value to Monero users. In fact, anyone in the world will be able to use this protocol, regardless of their affinity with XMR or cryptocurrencies in general.

Under the hood, Kovri will make use of garlic encryption and garlic routing. Most readers will have heard of onion routing already, but garlic routing takes things one step further. Garlic routing is used to create a message-based anonymous overlay network of internet peers. This concept has been around since 2000, although it was only put into actual code recently. Garlic encryption is used to encrypt Messages in layers and route them through different proxies without exposing the content to any “stops” along the way.

What all this means for Monero – and for internet users in general – is that this overlay network allows people to properly hide their geographic locations and IP addresses. Some people may claim the same can be achieved with Tor or a VPN, which is correct. However, we have seen some VPN providers keep logs of users’ original IPs. Moreover, the recent discovery of some malicious Tor exit nodes has also caused some concern in this regard.

As its website explains, Kovri covers the internet traffic of any application to make it anonymous. This has major consequences for Monero as a cryptocurrency, as well as any other type of software or money being used with this protocol. More importantly, Kovri is fully compatible with the I2P network, and an alpha version of this protocol is expected to be released in the coming months. There are nightly releases for all major operating systems right now, although they may still see some bugs along the way.

At some point after Kovri reaches a stable stage, it will be integrated with Monero. For now, there is no timeline for this development, although the GitHub repo seems pretty active as of late. New solutions such as these can’t be half-assed either. Kovri is a very exciting project for anyone who takes privacy and anonymity seriously. The fact that it can be used with any application makes it even more impressive. It will be interesting to see how this will affect the future of Monero itself moving forward.