The blockchain has a lot of information about all bitcoin transactions.

I've heard a lot of conjecture about how anonymous bitcoins transactions are, but I haven't seen a scientific study.

Are there any case studies that show how to track a bitcoin transaction to an individual person? I see IP addresses on blockchain.info so that information could be subpoenaed; on the other hand, you could use Tor which also has its documented weaknesses.

up vote 5 down vote accepted

Yes, the most notable one being this one. It illustrates that it is possible to associate transactions and addresses with forum users' identities, as well as connecting them to some organizations (including WikiLeaks, MyBitcoin, Slush's Pool etc).

Tracking users by their IP is a bit harder, although during the work on my master thesis I was able to find an IP address associated with a Bitcoin Address and trace it correctly to the Bitcoin Faucet.

  • thanks for these resources, your master thesis was intriguing. I have previously read about how to disrupt a TOR network, and just imagining doing that to trace the owner of bitcoins made me think I should write a Tom Clancy novel spinoff instead! – CQM Mar 13 '13 at 2:10

Another interesting point of views, by Dorit Ron and Prof Adi Shamir (- The S from the RSA algorithm) :

https://eprint.iacr.org/2012/584.pdf

From the abstract: "...We downloaded the full history of this scheme, and analyzed many statistical properties of its associated transaction graph. In this paper we answer for the first time a variety of interesting questions about the typical behavior of users, how they acquire and how they spend their bitcoins, the balance of bitcoins they keep in their accounts, and how they move bitcoins between their various accounts in order to better protect their privacy. In addition, we isolated all the large transactions in the system, and discovered that almost all of them are closely related to a single large transaction that took place in November 2010, even though the associated users apparently tried to hide this fact with many strange looking long chains and fork-merge structures in the transaction graph."

  • thanks, although this no longer concerns me, there are more sophisticated solutions to bitcoin's pseudonomy – CQM May 17 '14 at 16:50
  • 2
    Hi slouis! You can improve the answer by adding some more information about what the paper says. It's better if people can get at least a basic idea without having to follow the link. – D.H. - bitcoin.se May 18 '14 at 18:25

Your Answer

By clicking "Post Your Answer", you acknowledge that you have read our updated terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy, and that your continued use of the website is subject to these policies.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.