Monday, December 22, 2014

Homomorphicly Encrypted Bitcoin Outputs for Transaction Anonymity

There has been some loosely organized comments regarding the possibility of using Homomorphic Encryption to achieve a new sort of anonymity for Bitcoin.


Is this possible?  I have a hunch it is possible to use some HE techniques to achieve a new level of anonymity for Bitcoin.  But first: what is Homomorphic Encryption?


Homomorphic Encryption


HE is a sort of encryption that allows for operations on data(such as arithmetic) while the data remains encrypted.

ex.  we encrypt two integers X and Y yielding X' and Y'.

X' and Y' are unknowable to anyone but the possessor of a private key.

we can perform an operation X' + Y' yielding Z'.  Z' is unknowable to the entity which performs this operation and that is the key use case.


How Can This Be Used For Bitcoin?


Presumably, we can encrypt the values of bitcoin outputs, making the actual cash flows invisible to the public.  It would be in essence similar to a cash economy where all transactions are conducted using sealed envelopes.  The public would we aware that a transaction took place, but the amount would be invisible.  What is required though is a special sort of Homomorphic Encryption

1) simple arithmetic must be possible on the HE'd outputs (this is at this time strongly supported in theory)

2) the HE'd outputs must be visible to the recipient ie. decryptable with their public key


How Would This Technique Achieve Anonymity?



Using this basic technique it would be impossible for anyone to tell what the balances of accounts may be at any point in the blockchain.  It would be fairly easy to confuse auditors and passive surveillance operations by making many small transactions to feint attempts at detecting fund transfers.


Is this different than Mixers?


Technologies such as Zerocoin achieve similar but qualitatively different results.  These techniques may be used in conjunction with Homomorphicly Encrypted Outputs. 

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Sidechains, One Coin To Rule Them All

So no doubt you've heard the news- Sidechains is the greatest thing since sliced bread.  You've told investors you're a Bitcoin expert so you are eager to blurt out pretty much anything in reference to Sidechains that sounds informed and convincing.  If you're like 95% of the people flooding the Twitterverse about Sidechains, you really have no idea what they are and what they are for.  This article is for you.




TL DR; I'm a business person- can you tell me what Sidechains will do for me?

Sidechains are a way of extending the basic functions of Bitcoin without interfering with the core technology.  In the latest phase of cryptocurrency, Bitcoin had been somewhat overcast by the proliferations of Altchains- alternative block chains that are not directly connected to bitcoin, and the monetary units on these chains float against the price of Bitcoin.  This was a threat to several parties, namely 1) mining interests 2) Bitcoin investors 3) and the promotion/development complexes funded and supported by the first two groups.  So as an normal user, Sidechains wont give you anything Altchains(or Altcoins) can't.  If you are a Bitcoin investor, it comes as an advantage because(hypothetically) a bitcoin can now do all the things Altcoin can do.  Are you excited?  keep reading.


How do Sidechains work?


Bitcoins live on something called a blockchain, which is a record secured by cryptography that says that transactions happened in a certain order.  Bitcoin has a very unique and powerful way to coordinate and validate this order by an unbounded set of peers.  This method is called Proof Of Work and it was invented by Adam Back, one of the authors of the Sidechains paper and a founder of Blockstream - a company who aims to profit from/monopolize on Sidechain methods.

So a block chain, in it's simplist form looks like this:





And what Sidechains does is allows Bitcoins to jump off this ledger onto another ledger, where it lives by completely different and arbitrary set of rules.  That's the exciting part.  So now a Bitcoin can maybe become a Smart Contract with complex logic or other forms of value.  The promises are compelling but the delivery on them is not.

So a side chain lives next to the block chain and coins move onto this chain.




I must confess, I lied.  A block chain doesn't look like the first image, it really looks like this:




Which is the basis for one of the major problems with Sidechains.  As indicated in the paper, the technical challenge lies in the prospect of a reorder event, where competing consensus peers rewrite the order of transactions.  This is neither an extremely rare nor damaging event in standard Bitcoin.  The problem is when you introduce Sidechains, the side chain must refer to a durable moment in block chain time.  If the Sidechain refers to a moment that is rewritten(reorg) then the side chain becomes invalid.  This would result in very bad things.  Peter Todd, a person who tweets a lot about Bitcoin, says this is a big problem and with all fairness Peter does have a good grasp of these subjects in addition to having a relatively unbiased point of view.



 

Demurrage


As soon as I saw a reference to the Cult of Demurrage, my expectations for this paper took a precipitous drop.  Demurrage, like most cultic things looks very promising at first glance, however it is rarely if ever taken seriously by real economists - because it does not function differently than something we use all the time, inflation.  The idea can be traced back to a so-called economist by the name of Silvio Gessell, who supposedly conducted an experiment using Demurrage that resulted in huge gains.  Since then the cult has expanded and even includes a myth starring Hitler where Demurrage could have- if only we lived without economic sin, saved the world from the holocaust.  Today, Demurrage is used as a device to ascribe magical properties to an economic scheme.  It has a following mostly in Western Europe with groups who wish to use financial tools but cannot overtly acknowledge or admit to using them.  It may be analagous to 'Red Mercury'.  It is popular in some pockets of academia and social activism.  It is not altogether a malicious thing, but it tends to be used as a distraction for more pestilent programs and such.  Demurrage has never been successfully used for an extended period including it's latest incarnation, Freicoin.  Would you use a money system where your balance decreases over time?  Demurrage, is like most utopian ideas, concerned with how one believes the world should be, not how it actually is in reality.  Freicoin was founded by Jorge Timon, who is also a member of Adam Back's company Blockstream.



OK so who wins with Sidechains?


The paper's publication was obviously heralded as a great event in the cryptocurrency space.  The people who were excited were mainly those with significant investments specifically in Bitcoin(miners, long speculators).  The paper does describe some advantages,

 1) unifies development efforts


    This may be a plus or a minus.  Some view Bitcoin as being too 'Cathedral' style and view the organization as a minus.  Granted, most Altcoin projects greatly underestimate the efforts that go into making a secure p2p money system and I do recognize that scale of efforts put into this.

 2) translation of monetary value


    This means that my Bitcoin can now do anything I wish(hypothetically).  The paper seems to illustrate a scenario where happy Bitcoin users can now do a variety of things with their bitcoin and don't have to involve exchanges to move that value between chains.  In a sense, Sidechains does impact the cryptocoin exchanges like Bittrex and Bter who specialize in Altcoin exchange.


Why Sidechains again?


What the paper doesn't spell out is one important thing.  Sidechains says plainly that other forms of block chains are not only possible- but valuable.  If that is true, then Bitcoin itself has questionable intrinsic value.

Secondly we have the problem of block chain scaling.  If everything is going to be on ONE block chain, how will we store all this information in every p2p node?  So this contributes to the problem of an ongoing theme in the Bitcion world, that of Centralization.  This theme has many sub-motifs such as mass surveillance, monetary dominance, market rigging, and other factors to which average users are averse.  It seems this theme is rather virulent and some forces have a lot invested in maintaining programs to progress this goal and hide their agenda from the public.  The problem of moving value between different chain types was already solved by Cryptocoin exchanges, however Sidechains privileges a new group- the group that traces and tracks coin usage ie. surveillance interests.  In an cryptocoin exchange scenario, ownership qualities are destroyed the moment coins enter into an exchange.


Conclusion.


Sidechains are a technology to maintain Bitcoin Monetary Dominance and may contribute to centralization or other negative factors.  There are few pluses mainly consolidating development efforts.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

NXTautoDAC, jl777, stolen NXT

You've heard the slanderous accusations no doubt.

The story they don't allow you to hear is rather complex, but I'll give it a go.

jl777 is an anonymous web financier who lives on the internet and sells people millions of dollars in ponzi investment products.  He is 100% anonymous and goes to great lengths to keep it that way.

Arrival at NXT

I arrived at NXT with virtually no knowledge of the project.  I was curious about some of their claims.  I got to know some of the people there and some suggested that I make a proposal to improve the currency.  I proposed a feature called Virtual Corporations, which allow for complex internal asset and money management in a p2p environment.  We went through a community process and the community agreed to fund roughly 33,000 NXT(about $1000) for what I estimated to be about 1-2 months of full time work.  The project gained a lot of interest.

jl777 approached me soon afterwards with a vague 'business' proposition.  I was completely unclear as to what his intentions where.  I did not even know he was anonymous at the time, he claimed his name as James Lee and he was a Korean citizen who lived in Argentina.  Next thing I know, there is money in my NXT wallet, some new assets, and lots of activity on the forums.  I had no idea what was happening.


jl777 issues the NXTautoDAC asset


I would in the following days discover for instance an asset with a descriptor that I did not understand.  In forum posts on a completely different project, I inquire as to what the meaning of the word DAC is.  I also complained to several people that I didn't understand the asset descriptor and generally had no idea what was going on.  He had told me that he wanted to help 'monetize' the project.  Not soon after this, he attempted to form another business partnership with me, this time requesting that I open bank accounts in my name.

It turned out that jl777 was manipulating the market and inflating the price of this asset(he has done this several times since with other NXT assest) with my name on it, and convincing others that I was responsible for their investment without my knowledge.  Upon learning this, I decided that I wanted to have nothing further to do with jl777.  Coming out strong against him at that time would result in an immediate and total collapse of the share value in NXTautoDAC.  I gave him several opportunities and hints that he needed to fix things.  He refused to respond in a positive way.  His only interest was bringing in lots of money from mostly clueless investors.

I began to seriously question the entire nature of the NXT project.  I would find out that mostly everyone of any consequence was entirely anonymous(they still are).  I also found out that there is virtually no theory behind their chain algorithm(there still isn't).  In addition I would witness several thefts transpire on the nxtforum.org and the administrators and other so-called "community leaders" didn't seem to care.  There was some indication that they were in on these thefts.  People emerged on the forums such as Tuck Fheman warning us of the ominous implications of Cointropolis' presence and the damage they had done to Feathercoin.  At this point I became extremely averse to everything about NXT, I posted on Bitcointalk.org what I thought about what was going on there.

Sodom is Provoked

Within hours jl777 had mobilized the entire NXT media machine against me- the phrase "bluemeanie stole 1 million nxt" is just one of many attempts and that was the one that stuck, because there was a corresponding transaction that would appear would implicate me in what they call a "theft", however no money was ever coerced from anyone.  As matter of fact I have never had any dealings with any of these people who are bringing charges up against me.  I have never sold them anything, never sold them assets, nothing.  This fairly sophisticated media machine is how NXT keeps their price afloat.  The project has no real talent or technical merit and most people know this, but their targets are the clueless and hapless.

jl777 has access to millions of dollars US in dark money.  It's not hard for him to buy influence on places like bitcointalk.org, or other promotion channels to get his story told the way he wants.  jl777 has a lot at risk, just judging by the Erik Voorhees case, he may be liable for millions of dollars, even jail time.

Antonis, a Greek who runs NXTBLOCKS.INFO, asked if I would refund the money.  I did it within minutes of his request.  This was confirmed by Pouncer.  The harrassment and such went on for several days, caused me major problems, duress.  They issued death threats, they continue to harass me online and it's not over some disputed money- it's over the fact that I know everything about their software and I can articulate the very severe problems it has.  As a professional in this area it is my responsibility to inform the public about projects like this.  Jl777 severely abused my name without my permission, posed very serious hazards to my well being, and cost me significantly out of pocket.  As A Matter Of Fact, during this period after NXTautoDAC was issued, well known and visible community members were trying to get me to fix these core NXT problems, which are entirely known to them.  They just don't have a solution.

All of this, from my arrival to the provocation was roughly 4 weeks.

Edward DeLeon Hickman Writes an Article For Cointelegraph

Things quieted down a bit for a few months.  The shady sketchy things going on at NXT continued.  There was a huge controversy over 2 separate hacking incidents, one of which Cointelegraph appeared to help NXT cover for(the Bter.com incident).  Then someone by the name of Edward DeLeon Hickman of Honolulu, HI approaches me pretending to be interested in my story.  I could tell within minutes that he had no interest whatsoever in my account.  There were other questionable aspects about Edward(multiple LinkedIn profiles, etc.).  His interest was getting incriminating quotes(none of which he managed to get as he doesnt even quote me in the article).  Later we would find out that Edward is a long term promoter for jl777, even a shareholder in one of his ponzi assets.


Threats, Extortion and Worse

At this point I was to learn a lot about how some of these altcoin projects work.  Most of the participants are petty criminals, people who I never really even liked to read on the forums, didn't interact with at all, and had no relation to whatsoever suddenly were coming after me extorting me for money.  Dave Pearce of Amsterdam(Pearce Motorcycle Services) who goes by the name EvilDave is one such character.  It appears his job is to either pump up the coin(probably has a number of accounts) or extort people and do general dirty work for the project 'whales'(which jl777 is).  Once I began to identify him and expose his real world identity, his extortions seem to die down, unfortunately it continues on bitcointalk.org with anonymous accounts(who may be operated by EvilDave).




Lessons Learned

These altcoin projects are mostly scams run by petty(or not so petty criminals).  They use people like me to build up the profile and credibility of the project to convince people like you to invest..  They begged me to write a whitepaper about NXT with my name on it.

take aways,

1) Do not get involved in this project if you value your safety and sanity.

2) Do not in invest in this project if you value your money.

3) Do not even interact with jl777 if you value your life.

Legal Scholar Preston Byrne Throws Down the Gauntlet on Bitshares

Bitshares is a somewhat confusing cryptocurrency project that emerged a few years ago on Bitcointalk.org.

Recently prolific legal scholar Preston Byrne came out with a scathing criticism of this project, which claims to have garnered over $5 million in crypto investment.




Preston writes:
BitShares – which I’d thought for the longest time was vapourware, but which inexplicably has been developed and even had the cojones to launch a $5 million Bitcoin IPO – was brought back into frame today with the news that they’re having a chat with a certain other “2.0” ledger about collaborating.



Links for your perusal:

BitShares: Don’t walk away. Run

 

BitSharesX: Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence

 





Preston's spirit animal is a marmot, and we're not entirely sure if Marmots and Blue Jays can coexist peacefully.  Stay tuned.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Why Coinapult is a Threat To Your Privacy

Coinapult is a Bitcoin service that allows you to send BTC to any email or SMS address.


sounds wunderbar doesn't it?

The problem with this service is they are a private organization(Panama based) that has a massive database of email/SMS addresses to bitcoin addresses.

What can someone do with this information?

Graph Analysis


Using graph analysis, it's possible to correlate real world identities to bitcoin transactions.  If this database is cross referenced to larger databases such as Google or Yahoo, accuracy of identification is multiplied a thousand-fold.

In this paper "Bitcoin Transaction Graph Analysis" by Michael Fleder, Michael S. Kester, and Sudeep Pillai, is described the basic techniques for information extration from the public bitcoin transaction record.



I have also built a graph database loader for the bitcoin blockchain.




Coinapult does not ensure, nor even respect your privacy.  What say you Erik Voorhees?



Friday, October 17, 2014

What is Neoliberalism? a few notes on Bitcoin ideology.

"Neo-liberalism" is a set of economic policies that have become widespread during the last 25 years or so. Although the word is rarely heard in the United States, you can clearly see the effects of neo-liberalism here as the rich grow richer and the poor grow poorer.

Just about to sign off for the day... seems that many in the bitcoin space have their wires crossed concerning ideology.  Neoliberalism, which is the best fit for a term for the ideology of most bitcoin people, is typically thought to be the religion for multinational corporations, which most bitcoiners claim to be against.



from the link above:

The main points of neo-liberalism include:
  1. THE RULE OF THE MARKET. Liberating "free" enterprise or private enterprise from any bonds imposed by the government (the state) no matter how much social damage this causes. Greater openness to international trade and investment, as in NAFTA. Reduce wages by de-unionizing workers and eliminating workers' rights that had been won over many years of struggle. No more price controls. All in all, total freedom of movement for capital, goods and services. To convince us this is good for us, they say "an unregulated market is the best way to increase economic growth, which will ultimately benefit everyone." It's like Reagan's "supply-side" and "trickle-down" economics -- but somehow the wealth didn't trickle down very much.
  2. CUTTING PUBLIC EXPENDITURE FOR SOCIAL SERVICES like education and health care. REDUCING THE SAFETY-NET FOR THE POOR, and even maintenance of roads, bridges, water supply -- again in the name of reducing government's role. Of course, they don't oppose government subsidies and tax benefits for business.
  3. DEREGULATION. Reduce government regulation of everything that could diminsh profits, including protecting the environmentand safety on the job.
  4. PRIVATIZATION. Sell state-owned enterprises, goods and services to private investors. This includes banks, key industries, railroads, toll highways, electricity, schools, hospitals and even fresh water. Although usually done in the name of greater efficiency, which is often needed, privatization has mainly had the effect of concentrating wealth even more in a few hands and making the public pay even more for its needs.
  5. ELIMINATING THE CONCEPT OF "THE PUBLIC GOOD" or "COMMUNITY" and replacing it with "individual responsibility." Pressuring the poorest people in a society to find solutions to their lack of health care, education and social security all by themselves -- then blaming them, if they fail, as "lazy."


In particular 'thought leader' Erik Voorhees appears to adhere perfectly to Neoliberal philosophy.

More content and discussion here.

Three Cannabis Coins listed on Bittrex- DOPE, SativaCoin, and THC

currently there are 3 cryptocoins that are backed by Cannabis.

DOPE, STV(SativaCoin), THC.

will we have Cannabis commodity speculators in the near future?  

 

All these coins have different prices.  Arbitrage opportunities!


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