InfoSec Seminar: Tracing Transactions Across Cryptocurrency Ledgers

Speaker: Haaroon Yousaf

Date/Time: 08-Aug-2019, 16:00 UTC

Venue: Roberts 309



One  of  the  defining  features  of  a  cryptocurrency  is that its ledger, containing all transactions that have ever taken  place,  is  globally  visible.   As  one  consequence of this degree of transparency, a long line of recent re-search has demonstrated that — even in cryptocurrencies that are specifically designed to improve anonymity —it is often possible to track money as it changes hands,and in some cases to de-anonymize users entirely.  With the  recent  proliferation  of  alternative  cryptocurrencies,however, it becomes relevant to ask not only whether or not money can be traced as it moves within the ledger of a single cryptocurrency, but if it can in fact be traced as it moves across ledgers.  This is especially pertinent given  the  rise  in  popularity  of  automated  trading  plat-forms  such  as  ShapeShift,  which  make  it  effortless  to carry out such cross-currency trades.  In this paper, we use data scraped from ShapeShift over a thirteen-month period and the data from eight different blockchains to explore  this  question.   Beyond  developing  new  heuristics  and  creating  new  types  of  links  across  cryptocurrency ledgers, we also identify various patterns of cross-currency trades and of the general usage of these plat-forms, with the ultimate goal of understanding whether they serve a criminal or a profit-driven agenda.

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