Cryptocurrencies & Anonymity: The Good, The Bad & The Future presented at Hackmiami 2017

by Benjamin Brown,

Summary : Cryptocurrencies are seeing an enormous uptick in use. While much of that use shows through the media as illicit or crime oriented, cryptocurrencies are seeing widespread legitimate use for transfers without the wiring fees, gifts, remittances, basic retail transactions, and as an alternative to an unstable fiat currency (think Argentina, South Africa, Brazil, Myanmar, Malaysia, and Indonesia). So much business is being done via cryptocurrency that the United States IRS just served a "John Doe" summons to Coinbase (currently the largest cryptocurrency exchange) requesting the identities of United States Coinbase customers who transferred any convertible virtual currency from 2013 to 2015 to ensure proper reporting and compliance under U.S. tax law. In this talk I will explain what cryptocurrencies are and what related blockchains are. I’ll then give an overview of the current markets and valuations as well as the up and comers. With that foundation we can look at the erroneous claims of cryptocurrency “anonymity” and reveal how open transaction ledgers work. I will continue with current research, tools, and techniques for forensic cryptocurrency transaction analysis. We’ll then turn to techniques transactors use to further obfuscate their transaction trail and what the weaknesses of those techniques are. Finally, we’ll look at the current innovations targeting cryptocurrency privacy concerns, how they work, and what challenges they face.