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Satoshi Has No Clothes: Failures in On-Chain Privacy

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Satoshi Has No Clothes: Failures in On-Chain Privacy

Duration: 00:24:20

Speaker: Ian Miers

Type: Talk

Expertise: Beginner

Event: Devcon 4

Date: Oct 2018

Payments in Ethereum and Bitcoin are, by default, transparent. Transactions are conducted between pseudonyms with the sender, recipient and value exposed. While this transparency enhances auditability and decentralization, it is a major privacy issue. A growing volume of research shows that these pseudonymous identities are easily linkable. This is a major issue for privacy, fungibility, and a free market. A variety of techniques have been proposed to alleviate these issues. These include but are not limited to Confidential transactions + Conjoin, RingCT/Cryptnote, Zerocoin, Zerocash,  Hawk, and Solidus. These techniques span a large multidimensional performance envelope in terms of transactions generation and validation time, size, as well as a range of cryptographic assumptions and data retention requirements. At the same time, these protocols offer markedly different levels of privacy against various threat models. Which one should we use? If performance were the sole issue, then systems without such enhancements would likely be preferred. Clearly some amount of privacy is necessary and the cost of getting it acceptable. The question is thus, which approaches provide sufficient privacy, in what contexts, and at what cost?

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Ian Miers

Ian Miers is an Assistant Professor of Computer Science at the University of Maryland. His research focuses on solving real world security issues using cryptography. He is one of the cofounders of Aleo, Bolt Labs, and Zcash, startups commercializing his work on privacy preserving payments and smart contracts. His work has been featured in The Washington Post, The New York Times, Wired, and The Economist. It has also been denounced in at least two op-eds.

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