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Tougher to ­se Bitcoin For Crime?

Representation of a Bitcoin.

A group of researchers says it has identified methods for determining the identities of anonymous Bitcoin users in some transactions.

Credit: Bitcoin Foundation

University of Luxembourg researchers report identifying methods for determining the identity of anonymous Bitcoin users for between 11 and 60 percent of all Bitcoin transactions, "depending on how stealthy [the] attacker wants to be." They say they can deanonymize a Bitcoin user, or tie their pseudonym to the IP address from which they trade the cryptocurrency, with only about $2,000 in equipment.

Moreover, the researchers claim they can thwart users who try to conceal themselves with firewalls or network address translation, and unmask as much as 60 percent of Bitcoin users who utilize the Tor anonymizing network by exploiting Bitcoin countermeasures for blocking distributed-denial-of-service attacks.

University of Surrey professor Alan Woodward says the deanonymizing technique could give law enforcement agencies a tool for linking transactions to an IP address, and perhaps to a criminal's identity. Still, he cautions it is likely with the emergence of Bitcoin-foiling methods that malefactors will adopt new kinds of virtual currency such as Darkcoin, Dark Wallet, and the forthcoming Zerocoin.

Woodward stresses the newest generation of cryptocurrencies "can have no other purpose than just to stay totally anonymous. You look at it and think, now why would anyone want that, except to conduct a criminal activity?"

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Abstracts Copyright © 2015 Information Inc., Bethesda, Maryland, USA


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