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A Fistful of Bitcoins: Characterizing Payments among Men with No Names

Meiklejohn, S; Pomarole, M; Jordan, G; Levchenko, K; Mccoy, D; Voelker, GM; Savage, S; (2016) A Fistful of Bitcoins: Characterizing Payments among Men with No Names. Communications of the ACM , 59 (4) pp. 86-93. 10.1145/2896384. Green open access

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Abstract

Bitcoin is a purely online virtual currency, unbacked by either physical commodities or sovereign obligation; instead, it relies on a combination of cryptographic protection and a peer-to-peer protocol for witnessing settlements. Consequently, Bitcoin has the unintuitive property that while the ownership of money is implicitly anonymous, its flow is globally visible. In this paper we explore this unique characteristic further, using heuristic clustering to group Bitcoin wallets based on evidence of shared authority, and then using re-identification attacks (i.e., empirical purchasing of goods and services) to classify the operators of those clusters. From this analysis, we consider the challenges for those seeking to use Bitcoin for criminal or fraudulent purposes at scale.

Type: Article
Title: A Fistful of Bitcoins: Characterizing Payments among Men with No Names
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1145/2896384
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1145/2896384
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © held by authors. Publication rights licensed to ACM. The definitive Version of Record is available in the ACM Digital Library at http://dx.doi.org/10.1145/2896384
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Engineering Science
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Engineering Science > Dept of Computer Science
URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1490261
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