back to article Bitcoin laid bare: Boffins beat anonymity

The cyber-libertarian poster-child Bitcoin, meant to usher in a new age of anonymous transactions, is rubbish at protecting users' IP addresses according to research from the University of Luxembourg. In this Association of Computing Machinery (ACM) conference paper by Alex Biryukov, Dmitry Khovratovich and Ivan Pustogarov of …

  1. bill 36

    Does anyone really care

    about this?

    We have an anonymous system now. It's called cash!

    Sure it can be traced but i'd liked to see a forensic specialist do a traceroute on a fiver over the course of a Friday night in a busy bar. Must be nigh on impossible.

    1. Gotno iShit Wantno iShit

      Re: Does anyone really care

      Yes. Your point about cash being anonymous is exactly why we should care. Given the way western society is moving it doesn't seem at all far fetched that one day good old anonymous cash will be withdrawn. There are many things in the UK that you used to be able to do with cash but now can only be done with traceable payment means. If I ask myself whether the UK govt would like to be able to track and trace all money movements the answer is a resounding hell yes.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Does anyone really care

        Anonymous cash also does not attract transaction fees which the Banks thrive on, which is another reason why we must preserve it.

        1. Colin Miller

          Re: Does anyone really care

          "Anonymous cash also does not attract transaction fees which the Banks thrive on, which is another reason why we must preserve it."

          In the UK personal banking is (mainly) free. Companies, however, are charged when they deposit £10/£20 notes, and also when they withdraw £5 and coins. This is why shops offer cash-back on debit-card withdrawals - there is a fixed fee for each card transaction, so cashback costs the shop nothing, and it saves them on the percentage fee on depositing cash at day's end.

          In most other countries, there are transaction charges for personal banking.

      2. bill 36

        Re: Does anyone really care

        I agree with you entirely and my point is that while we do have cash it will remain, for the most part, anonymous. A good thing in my view. Although it would appear that there are some amongst us who would like each and every financial transaction logged. I wonder why?

        Bitcoin or any of the others for that matter will be traceable eventually which is the point of the article.

        1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

          No need to wonder why : the answer is tax.

          Our ELECTED governments are more and more treating us like the corporations. We are the sheeple, made to be fleeced in order to finance decisions that are less and less made for our well-being.

          Well, as long as we keep voting them in, I don't see why it should change.

          1. phil dude


            And we *pay* for their abuse of power....


  2. akeane

    Can't they...

    ... just use a bitmask

    1. Sir Runcible Spoon

      Re: Can't they...

      You won't find many willing to cross that boundary.

  3. Anonymous Coward

    "Up To 60%"

    I love the use of this phrase "Upto" xxx% Whether is hair dye or fucking toothpaste or bitcoin.

    Covers upto 100% of grey hairs.

    Removes upto 100% of plaque.

    So in other words, the actual figure could be 1% or 59%. So AT LEAST half of all bitcoin transactions are hidden and untraceable.

    Either way, thats a less accurate score than a fucking lie detector and any fule no that that particular piece of "technology" is as accurate as a plumbers estimate...

    Carry on using bitcoin....

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "Up To 60%"

      Moreover, I thought Bitcoin was inherently NOT anonymous... which is the whole point of Dark Wallet and others

      1. TakeTheSkyRoad

        Re: "Up To 60%"

        Yes very true. There is no functionality specifically designed into the protocol to provide anonymity.

        This comes because unlikely a bank account it's not immediately obvious who controls a particular wallet address private key.

        That said if you don't use a bitcoin wallet hosted on your pc then the IP will lead to a web wallet service or possibly to a mobile phone hosted wallet. I would imagine that mobile phone IP's are recycled very frequently and most web wallets are also encrypted.

        Even for the security services determining actual ownership would be allot of effort (until they push through tech to cover the gap of course).

        1. DragonLord

          Re: "Up To 60%"

          Timestamped Mobile phone IP's are very revealing if you're in law enforcement ;)

  4. DrXym Silver badge

    Bitcoin has *never* been anonymous

    Each bitcoin transaction ever is recorded in a signed chain and the entire transaction history of every bitcoin is distributed across P2P. It's not hard to envisage the P2P network being seeded with clients which are logging IPs and making inferences based on the transactional movements of coins over time.

    Unsurprisingly there are various obfuscating services in bitcoin which basically launder money to hide where it came from. e.g. some services will for a fee issue new bitcoins in exchange for the tainted old bitcoins. Some services use "tumblers" which continuously scramble and mix bitcoins around to obfuscate their origins.

    Despite all this I expect the only thing stopping most transactions being traced is the determination and time / money cost the attacker to find the start and end point. The more illegal the use of the money the more likely that law enforcement is going to expend the effort to find out where it came from.

  5. ZSn


    I know I might be missing something, but if you only use TOR for all your communication (something like TAILS for example), then won't this just map to the TOR exit node. Won't that preserve the anonymity of the bitcoin user?

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Hahaha, crookcoin gets busted.

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