How Blockchain Anonymity Is Maintained?

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How Blockchain Anonymity Is Maintained?

How is Blockchain anonymity maintained?

An assumption persists since long that cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin were a refuge for criminals. This was because of their significant properties of being untraceable and being completely anonymous.

Meanwhile, as businesses and the general public grew more familiar with blockchain technology, it was becoming clear that the public transaction record of Bitcoin was, in reality, a gold mine of information for authorities. However, the issue of how anonymous cryptocurrency remains unanswered.

Difference between anonymity and privacy

To fully grasp the issue we’ll be discussing in this essay; we must first define those two – in reality, quite distinct – ideas. Anonymity “describes circumstances in which the actor’s name is unknown.” There is no mention of concealing the deed itself. In contrast, privacy is described as “the capacity of a person or group to seclude themselves, or information about themselves, and therefore express themselves selectively.”

Anonymity is about concealing the “who,” while privacy is about hiding the “what.” Anonymity in the context of blockchains refers to the capacity for parties to trade data without revealing any off-chain identifying information or previous transactions they have completed. Bitcoin, for example, is partly anonymous (each address is nothing more than a public key hash that seems random) but not private at all (we know all transactions done from/to that address

Blockchain Anonymity

Cryptocurrencies have sparked much interest from people, companies, and hackers, with Bitcoin once worth more than $5,000 per unit. Anonymity is one of the benefits of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. However, there are worries that internet money transactions may not be as private as many would want.

There are many types of cryptocurrencies, the most popular being Bitcoin, Litecoin, and Ethereum. Altcoins are cryptocurrencies that were launched after the popularity of Bitcoin. Bitcoin, the father of all cryptocurrencies, mandates that the ledger, or record of transactions, be open to the public, making all transactions public knowledge. Many people are concerned about their anonymity and privacy as a result of this. In this post, we will look at some of the ways that cryptocurrency anonymity has been handled.

Bitcoin is regarded as pseudonymous

Fortunately, the blockchain doesn’t record everything. This means that the identities of the people involved in the transaction are not recorded. As a result, rather than being anonymous, bitcoin is pseudonymous. In many instances, though, one’s personal identity can be connected to one’s bitcoin address.

Bitcoin transactions with a person knowing that your identity exposes information that may be used for the identification of your past and future blockchain activities. Suppose, you send bitcoins to an online store, an exchange, or any business that collects client identification information. In that case, you allow them to connect that identity to your blockchain pseudonym, possibly exposing previous transactions you are involved in.

As a result, Bitcoin offers the ideal paper trail for law enforcement, tax authorities, and compliance experts. Because of this traceability, bitcoin theft becomes a much less appealing endeavor.

Of course, tools that launder bitcoin such as mixers,’ or tumblers’ have emerged. These services try to sever the paper trail by swapping one set of bitcoins for another, each with distinct addresses and transaction histories. But, these services come with limitations. They do not scale effectively for big quantities, and the laundering process is often traceable on the blockchain.

How can you purchase cryptocurrency anonymously?

Purchase it from a street vendor

This may seem suspicious, and it may even be counterintuitive to reveal your real identity at the time of purchase. However, if you do your homework, it is not as risky as it appears to be actually.

Bitcoin was exchanged in a particular manner in the early days. Bitcoin meetings would be held. Holders of the cryptocurrency would scream out prices. On the other hand, buyers used to come forward. After agreeing upon a particular price, cash would be exchanged for Bitcoin, sent immediately.

You may utilize services like Facebook, Localbitcoins.com, or Meetup.com to locate vendors in your area that you can get in touch with to exchange Bitcoin for cash. Additionally, you should utilize Tor, a VPN, and burner accounts to maintain more anonymity when you are searching and signing up for such events.

Buy cryptocurrencies with cash.

Purchase it at cryptocurrency or Bitcoin ATM

Purchasing Bitcoin at a cryptocurrency ATM isn’t always the greatest financial decision. To buy coins, Bitcoin ATMs mostly utilize APIs directly connected to cryptocurrency exchanges, and the person operating the ATM will surely charge a service fee for making the transaction.

They are, nevertheless, helpful for purchasing bitcoin secretly. However, one should choose their Bitcoin ATM wisely since some demand you to establish an account, thereby, exposing your name. You can go in, put some money in, and receive some bitcoin on a paper wallet for those who don’t. One may then transfer this Bitcoin to their preferred wallet using a mixer service. This will conceal its origin further and protect one’s identity.

Purchasing bitcoin by not disclosing your name is one thing. But, what one does with it may still expose your identity. Therefore, it’s important to be aware of how you’re utilizing your bitcoin at all times.

Techniques for preserving blockchain anonymity

Decentralized: Not under the control of governments

One of the most significant advantages of blockchain technology is its decentralized nature. Nobody has complete control over it. The blockchain of Bitcoin, for example, is maintained by hundreds of thousands of nodes. Hacking one percent, or even half, of the computer nodes, will not give you control over bitcoin.

To get power, you must launch a 51 percent assault on the whole blockchain. According to studies, a successful assault would cost $1.4 billion and months of effort. But, in exchange, you would have momentary control over the network and nothing to show for it monetarily since the coins would lose value immediately.

Blockchain communities rule themselves because they have such a high degree of security and no centralized authority. After all, self-rule was the original aim of bitcoin, and the policy was successfully handed down to all subsequent blockchain initiatives.

VPNs and Tor

VPN and Tor services are both intended to protect the user and may be used to preserve anonymity. These technologies are utilized for both safety and privacy by researchers, journalists, businesses, governments, and others. Many bitcoin users with comparable worries utilize them as well. For example, many ransomware decryption tools are hosted on Tor as secret services.

VPNs are often used to conceal personal information while requesting bitcoin transactions. Both VPN and Tor can conceal a user’s personal information during a transaction by utilizing an alternative IP address or geolocation, which is occasionally customizable by the user. These technologies make it impossible for an attacker or analyst to observe traffic by correlating IP addresses and transactions. It may also be used to communicate with others, such as merchants while concealing your address from them.

VPNs are often used to conceal personal information while requesting bitcoin transactions. Both VPN and Tor can conceal a user’s personal information during a transaction by utilizing an alternative IP address or geolocation, which is occasionally customizable by the user. These technologies make it impossible for an attacker or analyst to observe traffic by correlating IP addresses and transactions. It may also be used to communicate with others, such as merchants while concealing your address from them.

CoinJoin

Typically, the back-end technology of decentralized mixers is the most frequently utilized technology. Gregory Maxwell proposed the CoinJoin protocol in 2013. The fundamental idea is that a group of payers combine their money and make a collective payment, obscuring the connection between payer and payee. 

CoinJoin is made feasible because not every input in a transaction must originate from the same wallet or user. Because the signatures needed to verify a transaction are independent for each input, many users may agree to execute a single transaction to numerous unconnected payees. As a result, the information regarding which input paid which payee is not part of the blockchain and can be avoided.

CoinJoin is a critical tool for preserving anonymity since it serves as the foundation for numerous methods and implementations. SharedCoins, Darkwallet, CoinShuffle, PrivateSend, and JoinMarket are a few examples of implementations.

Ecosystems of Blockchain

Secure blockchain ecosystems can reduce many of the security risks associated with blockchain technology. However, using bitcoins to purchase items on Amazon does not provide much privacy. Amazon already has your name and address.

However, blockchain ecosystems that prioritize user privacy can remove all such risks. Blockchains may create secure chains that enable transparent, anonymous transactions ranging from product descriptions to purchasing and selling.

In the e-commerce industry, merchants post their products on the blockchain and enable customers to evaluate and verify the components used in their production. The transit of products from the shop to the delivery destination may be monitored safely without revealing any unnecessary addresses. Payments are made possible by digital currencies, and internet reviews help consumers discover the finest purchasing sites.

CryptoNote

A ring signature is a digital signature that enables one member in a group to sign on their behalf. This phase adds security by making it computationally difficult to identify which group members’ keys were used to generate the signature. 

Conclusion

Bitcoin is a decentralized payment system that offers a method for obtaining numerous anonymous credentials, bitcoin addresses that may be used to conduct and receive payments. However, the previous study has shown that the system that utilizes such addresses may provide information about their owners. Furthermore, because all transactions conducted by the system are publicly accessible for study in the blockchain, it is possible to cluster various addresses belonging to the same user and classify certain usage.

Furthermore, if one of the cluster’s addresses can be linked to a real person, the payment history of the whole cluster may provide important information about that user. Although interesting research has been conducted in this area, the dynamism of the bitcoin ecosystem, which constantly modifies and improves bitcoin usage, implies that some of the hypotheses assumed for those blockchain analyses may not hold completely. Thus blockchain analysis still presents interesting open questions.

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By |2021-08-11T16:58:28+05:30August 9th, 2021|Blockchain|Comments Off on How Blockchain Anonymity Is Maintained?

About the Author:

Sonal Mehta is a Content Lead at Solulab, USA based leading Blockchain Technology, mobile apps and software development agency, started by Ex vice president of Goldman Sachs, USA and Ex iOS lead engineer of Citrix. Solulab help build startups - we are a no-sweat technical partner for early stage entrepreneurs to launch ideas from scratch and for later stage startups to build more quickly and affordably.

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