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Speed Optimizations in Bitcoin Key Recovery Attacks

Courtois, N; Song, G; Castellucci, R; (2016) Speed Optimizations in Bitcoin Key Recovery Attacks. Tatra Mountains Mathematical Publications - The Journal of Slovak Academy of Sciences , 67 (1) pp. 55-68. 10.1515/tmmp-2016-0030. Green open access

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Abstract

In this paper, we study and give the first detailed benchmarks on existing implementations of the secp256k1 elliptic curve used by at least hundreds of thousands of users in Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. Our implementation improves the state of the art by a factor of 2.5 with a focus on the cases, where side channel attacks are not a concern and a large quantity of RAM is available. As a result, we are able to scan the Bitcoin blockchain for weak keys faster than any previous implementation. We also give some examples of passwords which we have cracked, showing that brain wallets are not secure in practice even for quite complex passwords.

Type: Article
Title: Speed Optimizations in Bitcoin Key Recovery Attacks
Event: Tatracrypt 2016
Location: Piestany, Slovakia
Dates: 22 June 2016 - 24 June 2016
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1515/tmmp-2016-0030
Publisher version: http://doi.org/10.1515/tmmp-2016-0030
Language: English
Additional information: © 2016 Nicolas Courtois et al., published by De Gruyter Open. This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 3.0 License. (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0)
Keywords: Bitcoin; Elliptic Curve Cryptography; Crypto Currency; Brain Wallet
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: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1521412
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