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Author Topic: There needs to be a new bitcoin address format...  (Read 3050 times)
niko
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February 03, 2013, 03:17:05 PM
 #41

I thought last few bytes are the checksum. How easy is it to generate a key pair with the public address ending in 4BpiZ?

Unlike the first characters of a Bitcoin address, the possible last characters (including the checksum) are evenly distributed among the Base58 characters, i.e. the chance of the last character of any address you generate being "Z" is 1 in 58. On average, for every 58 addresses you generate, one will end with "Z", and the average time to find a "Z" will be 58 key generations (a 50% chance).

We only need to scale the probability up; for five characters, the chance is 1 in (58^5) - that's 1 in 656356768. Running my vanitygen at 180Kkey/s, I would have a 50% chance of finding one in 3646 seconds (about an hour). In fact, it took me less time:

vanitygen -r -k BpiZ$

(at result 35, of 58 expected on average):

Address: 17piCjuatkXRi8tPJf43fN2bSNeJi4BpiZ
Privkey: 5KJshpZnAygza2goQNB7gsmyvwEwg8CquLZBPgpHCDU8Dg5xCvP
Thanks for taking time to make it clear. I stand corrected.

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casascius
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February 03, 2013, 05:27:56 PM
 #42

Ironically, the high price serves as a barrier to entry, which itself adds value.  If you represent institution A and want to authenticate a document from institution B, the fact that Joe Blow can't get a similar looking certificate at a negligible cost adds value.  I wish more people understood why "overpriced" stuff derives the price/value it does, there's always more to it than somebody just wanting to overpay for something just because they're gullible or want the satisfaction of having paid too much for something.

Here's your certificate from my root authority, since you've already done the work of verifying your identity to me (you'll have to find that paper wallet though).  People can be sure that's your address (or trust any other addresses you sign, since you are now a second-level certificate authority.

That'll be 50BTC. First one's free if you can write the software to make it work, you'll "just" need Bitcoin to lookup and verify a signed message and the chain of trust from the Namecoin blockchain when someone uses your address. Let it know that I am the root CA, BTW.

Linux:
Code:
./namecoind name_update id/casascius '{"cert": {"address": "16EJyLJevdfUxF8MXDSctMfWaNxk14MXoE", "id": "casascius", "info": "Mike Caldwell", "authority": "deepceleron", "authbtc": "1DCeLERonUTsTERdpUNqxKTVMmnwU6reu5", "authnmc": "N76D6hEHB55cGPk8QiG6ysgMbXb11b3nAH"}, "sig": "HAGiR4/oetIedslegs2G5br+w6UpbeIVxZK8+WcASArSroAIuWDAV9B+5Hgck/Bge+0LYQwYTq1dTgTvBMyXdeQ="}'
Windows:
Code:
namecoind.exe name_update id/casascius "{\"cert\": {\"address\": \"16EJyLJevdfUxF8MXDSctMfWaNxk14MXoE\", \"id\": \"casascius\", \"info\": \"Mike Caldwell\", \"authority\": \"deepceleron\", \"authbtc\": \"1DCeLERonUTsTERdpUNqxKTVMmnwU6reu5\", \"authnmc\": \"N76D6hEHB55cGPk8QiG6ysgMbXb11b3nAH\"}, \"sig\": \"HAGiR4/oetIedslegs2G5br+w6UpbeIVxZK8+WcASArSroAIuWDAV9B+5Hgck/Bge+0LYQwYTq1dTgTvBMyXdeQ=\"}"

This is the data signed with Bitcoin:

{"address": "16EJyLJevdfUxF8MXDSctMfWaNxk14MXoE", "id": "casascius", "info": "Mike Caldwell", "authority": "deepceleron", "authbtc": "1DCeLERonUTsTERdpUNqxKTVMmnwU6reu5", "authnmc": "N76D6hEHB55cGPk8QiG6ysgMbXb11b3nAH"}

My self-signed CA: http://explorer.dot-bit.org/n/74491

edit: looks like I "extended" the proposed spec a bit:
http://dot-bit.org/Namespace:Identity
https://en.bitcoin.it/wiki/BIP_0015#Namecoin_ID

For the most part, this is brilliant (no I'm not about to pay 50BTC though).

What you've done here is created a novel application for an existing technology that in all probability will work exactly the way it's supposed to... something I see as a viable business model, other than for a couple missing things.  If I could describe those couple missing things and you took them seriously (among other things), there is no reason you couldn't actually start a business where you did nothing other than generate cryptographic certificates at negligible cost to you, and charge real money for them.

The first thing is that I have never heard of you being in the business of vouching for people's reputation and identity.  That doesn't mean it's too late to start, by any means.  For your "authority" to have value, people need to know who you are and that you've dedicated yourself and put a serious stake in the business of being one.  The main reason why your offer isn't worth 50 BTC to me is that I can't go somewhere and point to that record and have average folks give me significant extra credibility as a result of its existence.  It's not competitive, because there are numerous other avenues where I can get that for much less.  (Note that GPG isn't a candidate here despite the free price, because most casual computer users don't use it)

The second thing is that I did not offer to purchase these services from you.  This is an important distinction.  Read this little blurb on contract law: http://tutor2u.net/law/notes/contract-elements.html ... what you have proposed is best described as an offer, and I have not accepted it.  Mr. Riley put it perfectly: "It is very important to distinguish an offer from an invitation to treat – that is, an invitation for other people to submit offers. Some everyday situations which we might think are offers are in fact invitations to treat:" (list of examples follows)

On the other hand, be aware that 50 BTC isn't an unreasonable price for cryptographic services when the value has been added.  50 BTC is about $1000, seems to me that's about what I paid to get an Adobe certificate.  The difference is, something I sign with my Adobe certificate gets instant credibility with the uninitiated public (who has never heard of PGP) because their Acrobat Reader will display a soothing blue badge and bar - within the program itself - asserting that I really signed/certified that document when they open it.  There is also a legal system accustomed to using PDF that would likely recognize it as well.  There is nowhere computer-illiterate Joe Blow can go to see the results of what you added to the namecoin database and feel he understands it well enough to be confident about trusting it, and this is what distinguishes the two.

If you had a proposition where your services were widely deemed to be worth 50 BTC, unfortunately that wouldn't just be "free money" to stuff your pocket.  You'd get to that position of authority by spending a lot of money on reputation building, advertising, and PR, and that 50 BTC would hopefully be a return on investment representing a profit after all of your expenses.  But of course it might not be, that's your risk to take.

Finally, some bit of personal reputation goes into your ability to operate trust-related services.  Having a clean criminal background, good credit history are musts, having a somewhat related career or degree, as well as connections to those with capital and other resources are a huge help as well.  Someone who started a business like this but who had, for example, a check forgery conviction in their past, could reasonably expect to see their business collapse when people started doing their due diligence.

If you ever become known in the community as operating a business like this though... I'd probably subscribe if the rate was a reasonable reflection of what I deemed its value to be in the marketplace.

Companies claiming they got hacked and lost your coins sounds like fraud so perfect it could be called fashionable.  I never believe them.  If I ever experience the misfortune of a real intrusion, I declare I have been honest about the way I have managed the keys in Casascius Coins.  I maintain no ability to recover or reproduce the keys, not even under limitless duress or total intrusion.  Remember that trusting strangers with your coins without any recourse is, as a matter of principle, not a best practice.  Don't keep coins online. Use paper or hardware wallets instead.
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February 03, 2013, 06:01:12 PM
 #43


Here's your certificate from my root authority,
...

For the most part, this is brilliant (no I'm not about to pay 50BTC though).
....

I was offering my "services" tongue in cheek, if you didn't catch that - I've made no great effort to establish a reputation or reveal my identity to more than members I've bought stuff from. A company like MtGox would be a likely root CA issuer - they've got your ID and bank info already, so they have already verified "trust" for many bitcoiners, and scammers might be put off going through MtGox and paying money to get a counterfeit look-alike alias.

You or any other person could offer such service though, in the spirit of "decentralized". With a "signed alias", one could simply use their own main identity to self-register other addresses (like auto-sign pregenerated one-time pay addresses), or you could "vouch" for others by signing their address and require real verification or only verifying that they've proved to you it's their address. As an issuer, you can scan for and reject any name that might be confused for an already-issued trust. A fully implemented client could not only look up the name when you put in an address, but let you "view certificate" to see who issued the trust. Like you say, charge $50 and do some checks, and your issued certificates are more trustworthy.

The work would be putting it in Bitcoin; you'd have to make a bastard-child client that accessed both blockchains (main client, very low chance of that happening), or get a BIP through that added the namecoin-like registration to Bitcoin (devs have already said Bitcoin isn't for data). That's the part that's worth 50BTC.

casascius
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February 03, 2013, 08:38:00 PM
 #44

There is a bit of irony in CA services for bitcoiners.

True blue bitcoiners already have and understand PGP and thus probably wouldn't feel the need to pay for such services.

If and when PGP-like functions make their way into Bitcoin clients (not an outrageous proposition), that will be even more true.  After all, if you're already trusting in cryptography for your money, trusting in the same software to provide cryptography for your communications is a totally reasonable stretch that would make sense even to average computer users.

At that rate, the real value won't necessarily be in one guy being the "trust authority".  Instead, I see Bitcoin conferences having key-signing parties as standard fare, given that Bitcoiners put a premium on decentralized trust mechanisms.  That way, the conferences themselves will add the value... not so much that somebody will be making the money, but rather, people will be paying to attend the conference in order to receive that value among other things.  The more people who can make a business case to come to the conference, the more revenue comes in, which directly translates to a lower admission price per person, or a nicer venue, for future conferences.

Companies claiming they got hacked and lost your coins sounds like fraud so perfect it could be called fashionable.  I never believe them.  If I ever experience the misfortune of a real intrusion, I declare I have been honest about the way I have managed the keys in Casascius Coins.  I maintain no ability to recover or reproduce the keys, not even under limitless duress or total intrusion.  Remember that trusting strangers with your coins without any recourse is, as a matter of principle, not a best practice.  Don't keep coins online. Use paper or hardware wallets instead.
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February 03, 2013, 09:20:03 PM
 #45

I have an Adobe signing key and I paid for the key, there is no per-document charge for my key.  

That's probably because you always sign with the same certificate. The company I work for has to sign in the name of other people actually, so, after authentication, they generate a "minute-certificate", used only to sign the document (it expires quickly). That certificate carries the name of the client. And to generate that certificate, you gotta pay 15 cents of euro IIRC.

But even if there was one, there is nothing inherently wrong with that,

As there's nothing inherently wrong with charging a 4% fee for conducting a payment either. Yet, here are we trying to make something better. Wink

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killerstorm
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February 03, 2013, 10:54:00 PM
 #46

I proposed a solution in other thread... It is possible to use blockchain as an address book without namecoinesque complexities.

To reference a public key you can reference certain transaction input. Transaction input can be identified using triple <block_index, transaction_index, output_index>.

Applying certain optimizations and trade-offs you can encode this tripple in a 32-bit (or even 24-bit) number.

PGP word list can encode 8 bits in one English word. So to encode a 32-bit ID you need four words.

So, basically, we can make public key IDs like "absurd replica cranky decadance".

And this is, like, also a name of a company...

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