In today\u2019s digital-everything world where so much of our personal and professional lives are online, most people seem to have less of an expectation of data privacy than ever before. They know that companies (and governments) are mining their data, but after all of serious breaches of trust, it\u2019s no wonder that a majority are now becoming wary of both their data\u2019s security and how it is used.\nIn fact, a study by Harris and Finn Partners found that Americans are more concerned with data privacy than they are with job creation. That\u2019s a shocking finding, but maybe it shouldn\u2019t come as that big of a surprise. From the Facebook data scandal, to the horrendous number of retail data breaches to the serious security threats that even come with using public WiFi, nothing seems safe. And now with the repeal of net neutrality, even our internet service providers are free to collect and sell our browsing data.\nThe heightened threat for some groups\nEven though few people take measures to secure themselves, so many have really good reasons to consider protection, which means securing online activity is becoming more essential every day. Imagine for journalists wanting to report news in totalitarian states known to monitor online behavior, the threat couldn\u2019t be more pronounced. Even in the U.S. \u2013 with reports about the Homeland Security Department\u2019s plan to keep a database of journalists and media influencers \u2013 is it that far-fetched to think a pressured ISP who now has the right to collect traffic data wouldn\u2019t turn something over?\nThis fact is none truer than for those operating blockchain nodes, a group notoriously vigilant about security and anonymity. Even in the networks underlying blockchain, there is so much information up for grabs, that many blockchain thought-leaders have expressed concerns. The security threats are everywhere. Even crypto\u2019s hottest trend, staking, has plenty of security risks, especially related to the exposure of metadata.\nThese early realizations have started to take hold in the blockchain community, sparking a hastened pace for research about obscuring data down to the application level, a transparent system that publishes smart contract and transaction data. But, regardless if you\u2019re a blockchain developer or just a concerned consumer who wants to stay anonymous, what can you do?\nVPNs aren\u2019t always secure\nToday, many people know VPNs as a way to protect anonymity online. These services, whether paid or free, route user traffic through an encrypted connection to the VPN provider\u2019s servers to supposedly never reveal a user\u2019s IP address. But, while they\u2019re a well-known privacy solution, they aren\u2019t without their own issues.\nA study by TheBestVPN demonstrated that among the top 115 VPNs, 26 collect personally identifiable information including IP addresses, locations, bandwidth data and connection timestamps. In some cases, VPNs, like many of the free options, sell user data. Then there are absolutely ludicrous instances where VPNs have sold customer bandwidth to third parties, like hacking groups, which will turn unsuspecting users into botnets.\nBlockchain as a networking alternative\nIt\u2019s time to start looking to blockchain to create gateways as an alternative to VPNs. Advances in blockchain applications have made it possible to not only protect against cyber threats, but also obfuscate where a connection originates, ultimately keeping user data encrypted.\nSetting up your own mini-relay network that can proxy traffic on and off multiple servers globally is an option, and open-source and peer-to-peer networking implementations are ongoing. This would not only allow people to manage everything themselves, but also allow for traffic to be routed through an encrypted connection and exited through a different node. For instance, say you have ten nodes, with one behind a firewall (not publicly facing), and the other nine are acting as relay nodes, bouncing traffic from server to server. If your primary server is in Bulgaria, that configuration will come across as if it were broadcasting from that location.\nIf you require even more protection, you can obfuscate even further by using multiple servers and having traffic exiting off of multiple nodes, leaving hardly any ability to trace the server location.\nIt\u2019s similar to using a personal TOR network, but an important distinction is that you control your own nodes. Not to mention, it\u2019ll probably be faster, as TOR networks can be painstakingly slow. Even creating the most complicated obfuscation topologies is a real possibility because of blockchain\u2019s rapidly advancing development, so if leaving zero digital breadcrumbs is essential to your operation, you\u2019re not without hope.\nThe bottom line is that we don\u2019t have to accept privacy in the digital age as a thing of the past, even if data exposure exists in the smallest window of opportunity. There seems to be this assumption that if you want to be part of the connected world, the consequence is that you must leave a piece of you behind. But as we\u2019ve seen time and time again within the blockchain community, we aren\u2019t about \u201caccepting\u201d or \u201cassuming\u201d anything to be a foregone conclusion or impossibility.