Blockchain is Watching You: Profiling and Deanonymizing Ethereum Users [article]

Ferenc Béres, István András Seres, András A. Benczúr, Mikerah Quintyne-Collins
2020 arXiv   pre-print
Ethereum is the largest public blockchain by usage. It applies an account-based model, which is inferior to Bitcoin's unspent transaction output model from a privacy perspective. Due to its privacy shortcomings, recently several privacy-enhancing overlays have been deployed on Ethereum, such as non-custodial, trustless coin mixers and confidential transactions. In our privacy analysis of Ethereum's account-based model, we describe several patterns that characterize only a limited set of users
more » ... d successfully apply these quasi-identifiers in address deanonymization tasks. Using Ethereum Name Service identifiers as ground truth information, we quantitatively compare algorithms in recent branch of machine learning, the so-called graph representation learning, as well as time-of-day activity and transaction fee based user profiling techniques. As an application, we rigorously assess the privacy guarantees of the Tornado Cash coin mixer by discovering strong heuristics to link the mixing parties. To the best of our knowledge, we are the first to propose and implement Ethereum user profiling techniques based on quasi-identifiers. Finally, we describe a malicious value-fingerprinting attack, a variant of the Danaan-gift attack, applicable for the confidential transaction overlays on Ethereum. By incorporating user activity statistics from our data set, we estimate the success probability of such an attack.
arXiv:2005.14051v2 fatcat:ui7g3ilqhjdohbwgyjmtzqdaw4