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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

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Ian Miers is a postdoctoral researcher at Cornell Tech working on computer security and applied cryptography. His work focuses on improving the security and privacy of emerging technologies. This includes Zerocoin and Zerocash, the first systems to provide strongly private payments on top of public blockchains, and work improving mobile messaging including attacks on iMessage and new techniques for puncturable forward secure encryption. His work has been featured in The Washington Post, The New York Times, The Economist, and denounced in at least two op-eds. He is one of the co-founders of Zcash, a privacy preserving cryptocurrency based on his Ph.D. thesis.

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