Mixers. Computational data layers. Zero-knowledge proofs: these are just a few of the technologies being leveraged to enhance privacy on the ethereum blockchain.
Privacy for a public blockchain network is a bit of an oxymoron, given that, by nature of the technology’s design, data must be shared and widely distributed on the network in order to be considered valid. What’s more, for a high-profile public blockchain network like ethereum, several blockchain analytics websites and data scraping services exist to proliferate this data beyond just the users of the network.
Facebook announced Tuesday that its highly anticipated cryptocurrency, Libra, will run on a blockchain network secured at launch by 100 distributed computer servers, or nodes. Twenty-eight node-running members are currently on board.
The Libra blockchain will go live in 2020, with the Libra Association – a Switzerland-based non-profit – tasked with leading the cryptocurrency’s ongoing development. In a white paper released Tuesday, the organization detailed how the Libra blockchain will be Byzantine fault-tolerant, meaning faulty behavior by some of the actors in the network will not compromise the security of the broader network.
Data privacy startup Enigma is officially launching its second test network for ethereum developers.
While the code for the second testnet developer release has been up on GitHub since last week, the Enigma team announced today new developer guidelines and walk-through documentation to supplement the release.
In interview with CoinDesk, Tor Bair – head of growth and marketing for Enigma – positioned the launch as a way for more developers than before to build specialized smart contracts called “secret contracts.
The mobile bitcoin wallet project Samourai Wallet is partnering with the French hardware retailer Nodl to create a bitcoin node device that syncs with Samourai’s privacy-centric mobile wallet.
Revealed exclusively to CoinDesk, Nodl co-founder Michel Luczak said this new product will be a “full, self-validating, bitcoin and lightning node” that allows people to use the mobile wallet app without relying on Samouri Wallet’s servers. This has long been a point of contention, as critics argue the wallet’s privacy features are insufficient if users’ transaction data is stored on a centralized server anyway.
Albeit these are rather interesting times for the Bitcoin industry, not all developments make people happy. Bitcoin Blender, one of the top mixing services still available today, has decided to call it quits. More specifically, the company does so on its own terms, which is rather unusual.
Curtain Call for Bitcoin Blender
On the surface, Bitcoin mixing services are completely legal. While they do enable transaction privacy for Bitcoin users, the core business model is perfectly fine.
The team behind the privacy-obsessed bitcoin app, Samourai Wallet, has gotten its first round of venture funding.
Founded by two former developers at Blockchain.info, Keonne Rodriguez and William Hill, the wallet’s maintainer, Katana Cryptographic, has received a $100,000 investment from Cypherpunk Holdings.
Samourai Wallet has been built for Android users, specifically designed to enhance privacy while using bitcoin.
One of the world’s largest consultancy firms has released a new set of protocols for enabling private transactions atop the ethereum blockchain.
The project, dubbed “Nightfall,” by Ernst & Young (EY) was released on GitHub Friday.
The goal, according to the code’s description on GitHub, is to provide a means for transacting on ethereum with “complete privacy.” As it states:
“Nightfall integrates a set of smart contracts and microservices, and the ZoKrates zk-snark toolkit, to enable standard ERC-20 and ERC-721 tokens to be transacted on the Ethereum blockchain with complete privacy.
“We need a first step toward more privacy,” Vitalik Buterin, founder of the ethereum blockchain network, said Wendesday.
In a new HackMD post, Buterin detailed a design to help obscure ethereum user activity on the blockchain. More specifically, Buterin proposed a “minimal mixer design” aimed at obfuscating user addresses when sending fixed quantities of ether (ETH).
According to Buterin, users can transact in one of two ways.
A privacy-centric startup has turned to a private token sale to raise $2.5 million.
The seed round in Nym Technologies involved NEO Global Capital, Lemniscap, Edenblock and others. Binance Labs, where Nym completed a 10-week incubation program late last year, is also an investor.
The privacy-minded network Tor helps users to leapfrog one of the trickier aspects of setting up a bitcoin and lightning node, according to bitcoin startup Casa.
Casa CTO Jameson Lopp addressed this point during a talk at CoinDesk’s Consensus 2019 conference, where he discussed what Casa has learned about its product – a plug-and-play bitcoin and lightning node that aims to make it easier for users to run the software.
People often funnel their node network traffic through the Tor network to improve privacy, as the network shields the IP address of the node (which can show where it is located).
QEDIT, a developer of privacy technology for enterprise blockchains, has closed a $10 million Series A round from investors including Ant Financial, the payments affiliate of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba.
Ant Financial will also be incorporating QEDIT’s zero-knowledge proof (ZKP) tech into its blockchain projects, the companies announced Tuesday. Other high-profile partnerships applying QEDIT’s ZKPs include software giant VMWare and RGAX, a subsidiary of Reinsurance Group of America.
Prolific bitcoin developer Pieter Wuille unveiled two Bitcoin Improvement Proposals (BIP) today that offer plans that could prove foundational to a possible upgrade to the cryptocurrency.
The two proposals, announced on the bitcoin developer email list, describe Taproot, a code change designed to increase bitcoin’s privacy. Taproot is expected to be bundled together with an upgrade called Schnorr in a soft fork that developers have been looking into for some time, paving the way for privacy and scalability improvements to bitcoin.
According to a study released by Longhash on April 29, 2019, the relative usage of CoinJoin out of all bitcoin transactions has tripled in one year, currently sitting at 4.09 percent.
CoinJoin was first proposed in mid-2013 as part of many solutions to solve the issue that bitcoin transactions are not genuinely anonymous.
Academic researcher Dr. Ayo Akinyele is working on a cryptographic solution to boost privacy across second-layer blockchain solutions like the lightning network for bitcoin.
Akinyele just announced the formation of Bolt Labs, named after the BOLT protocol that aims to give lightning hubs shielded addresses for anonymous payment channels. The startup is launching with a $1.
Samourai Wallet announced this month that its latest update supports Tor integration, offering additional privacy for users.
What Does Tor Integration Enable?
In a conversation with Bitcoin Magazine, Samourai’s lead developer, who is known simply as “TD,” gave a rundown of the Tor integration.
Yet another tool is being added to Bitcoin’s growing number of privacy solutions.
Thought up at a brainstorming event attended by Bitcoin developers and privacy researchers last summer, Pay to Endpoint (P2EP) is a relatively new trick that utilizes the well-known CoinJoin mixing technique to make blockchain analysis much harder.
In a bid to lower the barriers to mainstream adoption of blockchain technology, professional services giant Ernst & Young (EY) has launched a solution that it claims will allow companies to transact privately on Ethereum’s blockchain using zero-knowledge proof (ZKP).
Dubbed the EY Ops Chain Public Edition (PE), the solution will reportedly allow enterprises to issue and sell product tokens on a “public blockchain with private access to their transaction records.
Wasabi Wallet 1.0 went live today, October 31, 2018. The release, which Wasabi’s creator Ádám Ficsór humbly called “nothing revolutionary,” cleans up the software and makes it compatible with macOS.
“The 1.0 release is a download and run that works properly on all platforms (Windows, Linux, OSX.) We made the wallet load time faster, caught some memory leaks, [and] rewrote the OSX backend of the UI library we used,” Ficsór told Bitcoin Magazine.
The Bitcoin network appears to be under attack once again. No malicious miners are colluding to take over the network, albeit a new flood of transactions might cause some concerns. Samourai Wallet dubs this as a “dusting attack”, which can have troublesome consequences for those masking their tracks through extra privacy features and services.
The Latest “Dusting Attack” on Bitcoin
It has been well documented how Bitcoin natively lacks both privacy and anonymity in this day and age.
After the recent hard fork upgrade of its protocol, Monero has seen its transaction fees shrink by approximately 97 percent, dropping from 60 cents to just 2 cents. Crypto analytics firm Coinmetrics shared a tweet confirming the drop in fees and their corresponding reduction in transaction size, falling from 18.5kb pre-fork to 3kb — an 80 percent change.
The upgrade, called “Monero 0.
The Electrum Personal Server promises a resource-efficient, secure and private way to use bitcoin with hardware and software wallets, connected to full nodes. Developed by open-source programmer Christian Belcher, best known for his contributions to JoinMarket, the Electrum Personal Server directly addresses vulnerabilities with the popular Electrum Bitcoin wallet, while sparing users the significant resource usage of an Electrum server.
In December 2017, an interesting rumor surfaced: According to “sources familiar with the matter,” the messaging app Telegram, very popular among crypto-enthusiasts for its strong encryption and privacy features, would launch its own blockchain platform and cryptocurrency.
Bulletproofs, presented in a paper titled “Bulletproofs: Short Proofs for Confidential Transactions and More,” describe a new zero-knowledge proof system. The proposal uses on-chain scaling for privacy and suggests a new, faster and more compact way to verify privacy-enhancing Confidential Transactions (CTs).
Bitcoin is usually not considered the blockchain best suited for self-executing conditional payments, better known as smart contracts. While it does support basic programmability to enable features like time locks and multi-signature (multisig) schemes, competing projects like Ethereum, Ethereum Classic or Qtum are often expected to better support more advanced applications.
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