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Author Topic: Pros and cons of using new Bitcoin addresses for each transaction?  (Read 34554 times)
ksd5
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July 11, 2010, 11:27:25 PM
 #1

Can someone please give me a list of the pros and cons of using new Bitcoin addresses for each transaction? It seems very inconvenient to use a new address each time.
Make sure you back up your wallet regularly! With Bitcoin-Qt, it needs to be backed up at least as often as every 100 transactions (both sends and receipts) or new addresses.
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llama
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July 11, 2010, 11:52:43 PM
 #2

Pros:

-More anonymous (harder for people to associate it with your other addresses, though not impossible unless other precautions are taken)
-Easier to identify who paid you (since every payer is given their own address)

Cons:

-Doesn't prove that you are the owner of the other address, which can be useful in trust applications
-A little bit more hassle.


Anything I'm forgetting?

SmokeTooMuch
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July 12, 2010, 12:11:01 AM
 #3

basically the advantage of making a new address every time is anonymity.

when you don't want anyone (who knows your old address, typically customers or, if you made it public potentially everyone) to recognize you that is a basic step you have to do.

In my opinion there's no disadvantage except for the minimum raised work for clicking "new address".
The only exception here is if you want to run a static account (like when you post the address to get donations), because afaik you can't reuse an address once you got a new one.

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laszlo
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July 12, 2010, 12:16:20 AM
 #4

The addresses are valid forever unless you lose your wallet.  The only disadvantage is that the address receiving a transaction is visible to all nodes.  It is easy to automatically generate a new address each time a page is refreshed on a donation page using the JSON RPC interface.

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ksd5
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July 12, 2010, 12:37:07 AM
 #5

Is anonymity necessary for everyone? llama has his address in his signature. (I don't know if he changes his address though.) Can someone offer me a scenario where changing addresses would be a good idea?
llama
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July 12, 2010, 01:38:41 AM
 #6

KSD5,

Definitely not.  I, for one, do not care about anonymity! Wink

It would be a good idea if you have lots of people sending you the same amount.  By giving them each a different address to send to, you can tell who paid when.

ksd5
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July 12, 2010, 01:59:30 AM
 #7

Ah, okay. It makes a lot more sense now. Thanks, guys.  Smiley
SmokeTooMuch
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July 12, 2010, 03:56:40 PM
 #8

The addresses are valid forever unless you lose your wallet.
oh, didn't know that.
thanks for the info!

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EricJ2190
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July 13, 2010, 01:00:30 AM
 #9

-More anonymous (harder for people to associate it with your other addresses, though not impossible unless other precautions are taken)

How difficult would to associate one address with your other addresses? What precautions should be taken to protect against this?
llama
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July 13, 2010, 06:09:31 PM
 #10

How difficult would to associate one address with your other addresses? What precautions should be taken to protect against this?

It's not totally easy, but it's possible.  For example, a node could listen on the network and see that you are using the same IP when sending from two of your different addresses, and thus associate those addresses.  To prevent this, you should mask your IP using Tor or similar.

There's also a more fundamental risk in that the chain of ownership of each bitcoin is public knowledge.  So, if you, say, purchased the bitcoin from an exchange and gave your name during that, then the exchange can associate your name with that bitcoin.  There's a really really nice post by Theymos on that here, and the following thread proposes some great solutions (mainly, a "scrambler"):

http://bitcointalk.org/index.php?topic=241.0

Even besides these two things, there are some other things that need to be handled.  For example, you should find a way to encrypt your traffic so your ISP can't read your addresses.  Also, you should send out identical traffic regularly, so that your ISP cant associate your addresses using timing alone.

If all of these things are accounted for, I believe you are very close to 100% safe from technical address association.

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July 27, 2010, 10:04:26 AM
 #11

The addresses are valid forever unless you lose your wallet.

The addresses are valid forever until someone else collides with your address.
This is not considered as a risk here. But that is not impossible.
And the more addresses generated, the less it is impossible Smiley
rodin
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July 27, 2010, 03:28:21 PM
 #12

You could always pregenerate all the keypairs (addresses) you'd ever need and keep them in your wallet. Then you just pull new ones off as needed, reuse old ones as you like, etc. E.g. with every transaction you get to pick the addresses that participate in that transaction. From the network's point of view, this is is indistinguishable from the curent behaviour of generating new addresses every time, but you can backup your wallet once in some really robust fashion and never worry about backups again. You can in fact patch your client to do that right now without affecting anyone else or breaking anything. So, that's a PRO; having to back up after every transaction is silly.

The negative side of pregenerating all the keypairs is that if I steal your wallet, and you don't know about it, I can just sit around for years waiting for a big transaction involving one of your addresses and then burn you. This theft is more insidious than just spending your wallet immediately, because nobody can ever be 100% certain than someone hasn't already done it. It would undermine trust in the network.

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Cdecker
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July 27, 2010, 10:24:38 PM
 #13

I actually stopped thinking of the BitCoin adresses as my Account number, and started considering them a reference number for each transaction Cheesy

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throughput
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July 28, 2010, 01:18:11 PM
 #14

As far as I understand, pregenerating all keypairs does not stop someone from using them
if he generates them too, by accident.
That is perceived as unlikely to happen.
But over time the number of generated keypairs will grow...
Yes, still unlikely, but still possible and nobody knows how to mitigate that.
That is an accepted risk of using the system. Just use to it.  Tongue
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July 29, 2010, 11:31:01 AM
 #15

As far as I understand, pregenerating all keypairs does not stop someone from using them
if he generates them too, by accident.
That is perceived as unlikely to happen.
But over time the number of generated keypairs will grow...
Yes, still unlikely, but still possible and nobody knows how to mitigate that.
That is an accepted risk of using the system. Just use to it.  Tongue


I think the number of addresses is like 33^62 (26+26+10?) that's over 10^94. If a trillion people each have a trillion addresses that's 10^24. The odds of picking a taken addy even after all that is so vanishing it's absurd. And no 10^24/10^94 is not 1/4.

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August 02, 2010, 06:37:40 PM
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As far as I understand, pregenerating all keypairs does not stop someone from using them
if he generates them too, by accident.
That is perceived as unlikely to happen.
But over time the number of generated keypairs will grow...
Yes, still unlikely, but still possible and nobody knows how to mitigate that.
That is an accepted risk of using the system. Just use to it.  Tongue


I think the number of addresses is like 33^62 (26+26+10?) that's over 10^94. If a trillion people each have a trillion addresses that's 10^24. The odds of picking a taken addy even after all that is so vanishing it's absurd. And no 10^24/10^94 is not 1/4.
So, here you have accepted that risk.
You have multiplied the value of the potential damage by the probability of the event.
It is acceptable to you, because that is really low risk, since you take no damage at all.
Some may be concerned if their potential loses are larger than yours, and have not only monetary nature,
but for example, reputational damage. Bank may get slashed by a bank run, if it lose some of it's reputation,
that will be the end for the bank.
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August 02, 2010, 08:39:31 PM
 #17

As far as I understand, pregenerating all keypairs does not stop someone from using them
if he generates them too, by accident.
That is perceived as unlikely to happen.
But over time the number of generated keypairs will grow...
Yes, still unlikely, but still possible and nobody knows how to mitigate that.
That is an accepted risk of using the system. Just use to it.  Tongue


I think the number of addresses is like 33^62 (26+26+10?) that's over 10^94. If a trillion people each have a trillion addresses that's 10^24. The odds of picking a taken addy even after all that is so vanishing it's absurd. And no 10^24/10^94 is not 1/4.
So, here you have accepted that risk.
You have multiplied the value of the potential damage by the probability of the event.
It is acceptable to you, because that is really low risk, since you take no damage at all.
Some may be concerned if their potential loses are larger than yours, and have not only monetary nature,
but for example, reputational damage. Bank may get slashed by a bank run, if it lose some of it's reputation,
that will be the end for the bank.

You can think of it like that if you want, but it's not a 'low risk'

Driving around town is a low risk because you have a fatality rate of like 0.0000005. We're talking about a much smaller than .0000000000000000000000000000000000000000001 chance of losing the contents of one wallet. It's seriously dumb to call that a risk. It's on the scale of worrying about passing through your chair.

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ByteCoin
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August 16, 2010, 04:30:56 PM
 #18

I think the number of addresses is like 33^62 (26+26+10?) that's over 10^94. If a trillion people each have a trillion addresses that's 10^24. The odds of picking a taken addy even after all that is so vanishing it's absurd. And no 10^24/10^94 is not 1/4.

I believe that a Bitcoind address is just an encoded RIPEMD160 hash which can take 2^160 values which is about 1.46*10^48. The number of distinct public keys is vastly larger and hence many different public keys have the same address. This isn't as worrying as it sounds though.

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September 26, 2010, 04:20:56 PM
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I think the number of addresses is like 33^62 (26+26+10?) that's over 10^94. If a trillion people each have a trillion addresses that's 10^24. The odds of picking a taken addy even after all that is so vanishing it's absurd. And no 10^24/10^94 is not 1/4.
So, here you have accepted that risk.
You have multiplied the value of the potential damage by the probability of the event.
It is acceptable to you, because that is really low risk, since you take no damage at all.
Some may be concerned if their potential loses are larger than yours, and have not only monetary nature,
but for example, reputational damage. Bank may get slashed by a bank run, if it lose some of it's reputation,
that will be the end for the bank.

You can think of it like that if you want, but it's not a 'low risk'

Driving around town is a low risk because you have a fatality rate of like 0.0000005. We're talking about a much smaller than .0000000000000000000000000000000000000000001 chance of losing the contents of one wallet. It's seriously dumb to call that a risk. It's on the scale of worrying about passing through your chair.


Very funny, some people just can't admit that at some point, small numbers are really virtually zero.

I've read somewhere that the total number of atoms in universe is around 10^80.

10^94 is thousands of billions (10^14) times bigger than that.  So we're talking about odds that are far less likely than picking a specific atom amongst the total number of all atoms in universe.  This is ridiculously small.
eurekafag
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October 09, 2010, 11:12:52 AM
 #20

How fast does wallet.dat size grow with creating new addresses? It would be nice feature to physically remove entries from it if I'm pretty sure no one will send coins to that particular address. For example, if would be useful for shops which create one-time addresses to recieve payments. If it's used once it's not needed anymore so the shop engine sends coins from that address to a certain fixed address and removes keys for that temporary one. It will prevent wallet.dat from growing indefinitely. Also note that invisible address is created each time one sends the sum which isn't equal to the sum of a particular address or sum of several addresses so it's divided by two parts: one goes to the recipient and the other goes to your just transparently generated invisible address (you don't see it in your address book but it's in your wallet.dat). If you often send money you'd already have lots of such addresses and some empty ones. AFAIK no automatic garbage collection is done for now and it's right — there is no way to know which address is temporary and which is constant. Another proposal is to make a special «temporary address» flag which may be set on any of your addresses either on its creation or anytime later. Bitcoin checks this flag on transaction and if this (these) address(es) become empty AND the transaction was confirmed by the network (6 confirmations) then it's removed from the wallet. Hence this flag should be set for all «change» (invisible) addresses because they can't be used to receive payments (they aren't displayed anywhere).
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