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Author Topic: Reverse-engineer bitcoin transactions  (Read 1961 times)
fergalish
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April 05, 2012, 08:32:58 PM
 #21

I have to say, I disagree.  Bitcoin can be anonymous *if used correctly*, otherwise it is not.  If this guy wants just to trawl public webpages and categorize publicly available information, then he's not doing anything unlawful.  Of course, if he decides to hack MtGox to get the user<->userid database, well, that'd be different.  And in that sense, he'll be at a disadvantage compared to LE.

All it takes is for just one of the people you trade with to reveal their identity, and that will lead straight to you.  Now if you've passed your received coins through a mixer after *every single transaction*, then maybe they won't be able to associate any one of your transactions with any other.  Otherwise, you're on the hook.  And I'd be willing to bet that unless a majority of users take pains to hide their identity, then just about everyone will be visible to data mining.

I agree with OP - better that something like this be done in the open, so everyone can see how anonymous they are; otherwise everyone is just falling for the usual internet=anonymous delusion.  In fact, perhaps it would be good to offer a bounty to whoever can do the work, and present it as a navigable flow of interconnected and joined addresses and users (where known).  And then - yeah, see what could be done to the protocol to improve anonymity.  Like each block includes a built-in mixer, say.

IIRC there are several requirements for you to remain anonymous:

1. Never mix money from different receiving addresses - i.e. each wallet must have only one receiving address
2. Pass all received money through a mixer
3. Connect to bitcoin (and pools, exchanges etc) only through tor, and give them no personally identifying information.
4. Never publish your bitcoin address
5. Anything else?

Of course, you gotta hope that the mixer op doesn't sell you out. Or else do multiple passes through multiple mixers... losing x% each time.


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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April 05, 2012, 09:34:46 PM
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Why do you think a programmer would partner with you if this idea is all you have to offer? I mean, what you are proposing isn't exactly ground-breaking or unique and you haven't demonstrated what you would bring to the project. 
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April 05, 2012, 10:56:29 PM
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I offer programming chops.  My background is math, computer science and 15 years experience coding for $ in scripting languages such as perl and JavaScript.

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April 06, 2012, 04:00:01 AM
 #24

Fed would have an issue trying to get info from Mt Gox, it is based in Japan. Perhaps I read your OP incorrectly, this did not seem like a service to stress test anonymity, but rather a wholesale outing service that would link identities to bitcoins.

I would still choose not to use, participate or endorse this kind of activity, it doesn't benefit my anonymous use of bitcoin. It will give rise to a lot more laundering schema, and a lot more overhead as people shift coins around to randomize and defeat tracking. A lot of that overhead can be detrimental to the size and velocity of the blockchain.

A opt-in anonymity test? Sure, why not, decent enough idea if folks want to test themselves. A tool that can be used to link user identities and bitcoins without their permission or desire to be linked? No such a desirable thing. I believe a fair number of bitcoin users would prefer that their specific transactional habits remain their own private business.

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fergalish
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April 06, 2012, 09:44:08 AM
 #25

Fed would have an issue trying to get info from Mt Gox, it is based in Japan. Perhaps I read your OP incorrectly, this did not seem like a service to stress test anonymity, but rather a wholesale outing service that would link identities to bitcoins.
Ah,  I see your point.  Yes, I read OP's intent more as an anonymity testing tool.

Still, LE will be very interested in linking identities to bitcoin addresses already and I wouldn't be surprised if some entity is already working on it.  If that is the case, then your bitcoin transactional habits will eventually be known to LE (or advertisement agencies etc) whether you like it or not.  OP, I think, wants to build a service which will show you how non-anonymous you are (and me, and everyone) so that you can pre-emptively adjust your behaviour to achieve your desired anonymity.  Or so the devs can improve the algorithm, if possible.  Unfortunately the only way for *me* to know how anonymous I am is to know how anonymous *everyone else* is.

How about this: OP trawls the public web (and onionland maybe) and links bitcoin addresses with people, with forum usernames, with PGP keys, etc.  Then trawls the blockchain to build up a map of transactions between addresses, between wallets and between people.  Puts the data on a tor hidden server and you can interrogate the data base for your own bitcoins by signing some appropriate query string with the private key for those bitcoins.  The data returned will simply tell you your ID, if known, addresses/wallets traced to you, and if your transaction partners' IDs are known (but not who they are).
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