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Author Topic: Reverse-engineer bitcoin transactions  (Read 1962 times)
frisco2
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April 04, 2012, 04:36:15 AM
 #1

The idea

Project to recover identity of bitcoin users. Scanning web pages for bitcoin addresses, identifying them with people, and also scanning bitcoin transactions to try to reverse engineer which bitcoin address belongs to which person.


Why do it?

The IRS and CRA are gonna develop this inhouse sooner or later. If we do it first, we make money by getting IRS and CRA to pay us for the service, as well as, we will provide a way for Bitcoin users to check how clean are their bitcoins. We will charge BTC to use this service, so we will force CRA and IRS to buy bitcoin as well.


Programming:

I propose to implement the scanning and analyzing in Ruby or Perl.


You are:

Someone who is a good programmer, with time on your hands. Looking to do this in 1 man-month.

Open-Source:
The code will not be open-source, and will be hosted on our server.

What do you think?
Boris

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payb.tc
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April 04, 2012, 04:40:23 AM
 #2

if it can be built in 1 man month, the IRS can build their own version in 14.4 minutes.
Stephen Gornick
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April 04, 2012, 05:25:21 AM
 #3

The idea

Project to recover identity of bitcoin users. Scanning web pages for bitcoin addresses, identifying them with people, and also scanning bitcoin transactions to try to reverse engineer which bitcoin address belongs to which person.

This might work for those who use a static address.   So maybe this will work for those who accept donations or for those who share their data.

But for others who use Bitcoin in the manner it was architected (i.e., new address for each incoming payment), do you think you'll have any clue who they might be?

RaggedMonk
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April 04, 2012, 08:13:15 AM
 #4

The idea

Project to recover identity of bitcoin users. Scanning web pages for bitcoin addresses, identifying them with people, and also scanning bitcoin transactions to try to reverse engineer which bitcoin address belongs to which person.

This might work for those who use a static address.   So maybe those who accept donations or those who share their data.  But for others who use Bitcoin in the manner it was architected (i.e., new address for each incoming payment), do you think you'll have any clue who they might be?
I support building it.  Some people will change their behavior, and some will not.  It is inevitable, and I think its smart to try to get there first.  Will be watching.
frisco2
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April 04, 2012, 04:25:29 PM
 #5

So, of course 1 man-month will give us something that works, and it will have many loose ends.  We will have to add more sources with time. As the graph database becomes more and more complete, more relationships will surface. 

It is true that if someone doesn't publish their wallet, identifying them is a lot harder.  But it is still possible because the receving address is always the sending address.  You can read more about that on the pages that discuss anonimity of Bitcoin.  In a nutshell, if A, Bi are different people:

B1 -> A
B2 -> A
A  -> B3
A  -> B4

It is possible to identify A if either of B's will slip up and expose the identity of A. 

Another example is that many people who have a donation address A, will have to somehow transfer bitcoin to the address from which they indend to spend it.  This transfer is recorded and can be followed. Even if it is another account in their wallet.

The only way to really hide the link is to exchange your bitcoin to someone elses bitcoin (through OTC or bitcoin laundry). However, matching this info with account info of people can link two two bitcoins and continue following the path.

Perhaps our service will prompt changes to bitcoin protocol to make it more anonymous.

Still looking for a partner.  If you can post this thread in a non-newbie forum, please do it, cause I don't have access.

Boris

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gorgo1
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April 04, 2012, 07:20:04 PM
 #6

I want to stay anonymous with my money.I don't want some govt guy to start snooping around. Thats what drew me to bitcoins. Take away the anonymity and you lose some of the client base for bitcoin unless the protocol becomes more anonymous. Is this a community that values anonymity or one that wants to give it up?

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gusti
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April 04, 2012, 07:30:38 PM
 #7

The idea

Project to recover identity of bitcoin users. Scanning web pages for bitcoin addresses, identifying them with people, and also scanning bitcoin transactions to try to reverse engineer which bitcoin address belongs to which person.


Why do it?

The IRS and CRA are gonna develop this inhouse sooner or later. If we do it first, we make money by getting IRS and CRA to pay us for the service, as well as, we will provide a way for Bitcoin users to check how clean are their bitcoins. We will charge BTC to use this service, so we will force CRA and IRS to buy bitcoin as well.


Programming:

I propose to implement the scanning and analyzing in Ruby or Perl.


You are:

Someone who is a good programmer, with time on your hands. Looking to do this in 1 man-month.

Open-Source:
The code will not be open-source, and will be hosted on our server.

What do you think?
Boris

yes, you came with a nice project for the whole community, you may also build a similar app for SR / DEA   Roll Eyes


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bitcoinsarefun
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April 04, 2012, 07:38:42 PM
 #8

what are you paying?
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April 05, 2012, 01:57:33 AM
 #9

How do you plan to get the user information other than occasional slipping or announcements or bribery?

If someone truly wishes to be anonymous, they won't use a real name if you try to bribe them. They won't say what the bitcoin address is. And they won't confirm that an address is theirs.

So are you sure it would really work?

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LoupGaroux
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April 05, 2012, 02:14:10 AM
 #10

One question:

Why?

One observation:

The Government does not pay bounties for tools they feel they need to improve their ability to control the masses, they make their own, then outlaw yours and will punish you for trying to use it.

One suggestion:

Study up on the core concept here before suggesting something as antithetical as this. I cannot conceive that more than a token smattering of the community would care to even consider something so fundamentally evil and contrary to the very existence of bitcoin as an automated system for researching personal ownership and transactional information regarding an anonymous token of value.

One caution:

Boris- you smell like a Fed Troll, you sound like a Fed Troll, and I suspect your walk is pretty Fed Trollish... as such you have just painted a really, really huge target on yourself to have abuse heaped upon you. P'raps a little lurking and studying before dropping a turd in the punchbowl is in order? Otherwise get thee from hence, Foul Troll, your wicked kind is not welcome in this community of good souls.

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frisco2
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April 05, 2012, 04:24:17 PM
 #11

If I was a fed troll, do you think I would ever admit it ? And if I wasn't , do you think I could convince you otherwise ? If it helps, I am the creator of online-tip jar.com which accepts bitcoin, and I can put any file or text under that domain -- would that convince you ?

I'm not paying -- I am looking for a programmer partner so that I wouldn't work solo.

Bitcoin is not anonymous:

https://en.bitcoin.it/wiki/Anonymity
http://anonymity-in-bitcoin.blogspot.ca/2011/07/bitcoin-is-not-anonymous.html


More over mtgox requires an ID to wire money, and they will expose it to the Fed if they request it.  If your bitcoin activity passes through mtgox, then it will could potentially identify a path in the overall bitcoin graph.

As I see it, to improve anonymity either the bitcoin protocol has to be changed, although I have no idea how, since the problem lies in the core of the design.

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

Would bitcoin mixing help ? (Exchanging some bitcoins to others) it will but today it is expensive -- 5 percent. If I am going to keep my money in the bitcoin "offshore", I'd want to do it for large amounts, which makes 5 percent crazy amount. Imagine paying $10,000 to for $200,000.

So I would like to be able to check on some website -- how anonymous am I?

Now it is of course possible that IRS will develop their own software to do this, and they will eventually.  We don't want to have anonymity by obscurity. That's like saying that security by obscurity is ok, and we don't need RSA crypto system. I want to know that my money is 100 percent safe.

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sylkyx
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April 05, 2012, 04:29:13 PM
 #12

Most people who use bitcoins use TOR, making your idea pretty impossible. Plus, if it was programmable by 1 guy in a very shot amount of time, im sure the IRS would have done it already, or at least wont be paying a 3rd party to do it for them.

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frisco2
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April 05, 2012, 05:01:06 PM
 #13

TOR has nothing to do with it. People publish their donation addresses, and share with others their addresses for payment, and that info is recorded. You have to read the articles I linked if you want more clarification.

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Red Emerald
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April 05, 2012, 05:06:53 PM
 #14

Open-Source:
The code will not be open-source, and will be hosted on our server.
I don't think the community is going to put much effort in supporting a closed source project that is used to monitor them...

frisco2
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April 05, 2012, 05:31:53 PM
 #15

It's gonna be a website like bitcoinica or mtgox -- you don't see their code, right ? But you use it, and pay commissions.

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Red Emerald
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April 05, 2012, 05:59:45 PM
 #16

It's gonna be a website like bitcoinica or mtgox -- you don't see their code, right ? But you use it, and pay commissions.
I think those sites will only survive until someone figures out a decentralized and open way of doing trades.  This is a difficult problem, but people are working on it.

frisco2
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April 05, 2012, 07:03:26 PM
 #17

Well, even if the source code will be available to which others can contribute, it is the graph database that will become more full with time that will be of value.  Who ever will build the database using their hardware will own it and/or sell it.  So if I do it, I could provide a download of the database for BTC, for those who don't want to use a hosted service.

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April 05, 2012, 07:06:21 PM
 #18

couldn't someone unload their coins to an unpublished wallet to cover their tracks?

LoupGaroux
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April 05, 2012, 07:10:59 PM
 #19

Frisco- no offense mate, but hugely bad idea in my book. And I will take the signal honor of being the first to opt out of your monitoring or reverse engineering any data whatsoever on any transaction of mine, and if you are found to be doing so, I will pursue remedies available to those who have been illegally wiretapped. Gathering this kind of data and making it available for others to consume without a warrant violates all kinds of interesting laws in a variety of countries and will open you and whatever business model you want to release it under to a staggering amount of liability.

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frisco2
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April 05, 2012, 07:58:00 PM
 #20

You can say that it is a bad idea, and I take no offence.  However, the convining argument for me would be that people wouldn't use the service. Are you saying that people will not want to find out how anymous their activity on the bitcoin network is ? I think you haven't said that.

But how is it illegal to build such a system ?  I don't think that you can opt out legally by saying,  "I don't want this bitcoin address to be analyzed". The privacy act does not protect you because I didn't collect any information from you in private.  (The privacy laws will also not protect a person if the Fed decides to find out the name of his mtgox account.)

Are you saying that it is illegal to use public information to determine a person's identity from a purely logical argument?

It is the same as saying that it is illegal to make a crawler bot that scans pages. Google and hundreds of smaller bots do it nightly. More over, the bitcoin data is already on my computer, downloaded by the bitcoin client. Even without web data, by only using bitcoin data, I could make a conclusion that a certain bitcoin address is suspicious.




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