Free Resource Knows if Blockchain's Big Brothers are Spying on Your Accounts
Bitcoin, contrary to some assumptions, is NOT a private means of value exchange. It's supposed to be transparent. But somehow there's a misconception that the blockchain hides everything.
Just ask the hackers from the recent Twitter debacle. Gov't agencies are already tracking their transactions.
We can also turn to one of the most embarrassing examples of privacy delusion, occurring during the 2016 U.S. elections. Assuming their activities would remain unseen by prying eyes, a group of 12 Russian hackers used bitcoin to finance a portion of their shady operation.
Hacking aside, what about 'Average Joe' or, as crypto explainer videos will show you, 'Bob and Alice?'
Bitcoin is intended as an alternative to what some consider a broken financial system. And privacy is an integral part of it all.
We know that Coinbase and Gemini are now working alongside the U.S. tax machine, the IRS. So, if you, dear reader, are buying, selling, trading or HODLing BTC on either exchange, you may be wondering if your account is on a special watchlist. I did!
Well, now there's a way to find out. Even better, the site contains useful resources for what you can do to protect yourself, along with how to proceed if it turns out one or more of your BTC addresses is under surveillance.
Or, as the site explains, sousveillance. What's that mean? Here, I'll explain ...
Have You Been Known?
Checking whether or not some of the Big Bros of Blockchain are watching, simply paste a BTC address into the search bar at Have I Been Known.
And no, ETH addresses don't work. Not sure why but I was compelled to try.
Where does the site's filter pull blockchain data from? Knowing that exact question would come up, it's listed in the FAQ section:
Now, let's say you run your address through the filter and discover a privacy-infringing 'gotcha.' Then what?
First of all, sorry for the inconvenience! And second, HIBK has some options for you ...
Stirring the Pot
A couple of different tactics are available if you've reason to look over your digital shoulder: Blenders and chain-hopping.
In a nutshell, sending your BTC through a mixer will group the transaction with other addresses.
Here's how the CoinJoin service describes a spend:
"The transaction is constructed such that it is not possible for someone analyzing the blockchain to determine which output belongs to which user."
Think of mixers like throwing your coins in with other coins to make a transactional smoothie. HIBK will teach you exactly how to do just that.
One way to keep yourself off the radar is to use P2P (decentralized) exchanges. Cross-chain atomic swaps—trading from one personal (non-exchange) wallet to another—are now a reality.
Moving assets into privacy coins is yet another option. Privacy coins seem to be gaining steam, and projects like Veil intend to create private, trustless, end-to-end financial ecosystems.
So, which organizations are in the business of snooping around the blockchain? There are quite a few of them, actually.
Essentially, whichever outfit holds a government contract to snoop.
Here are a few big names in the business:
Blockchain Intel, BlockSeer, Chainalysis, CipherTrace, Comply Advantage, Coinfirm, Crystal Blockchain, Elliptic, Neutrino, and Scorechain.
Notably, this list of companies billing themselves as 'intelligence solutions' is far from all-inclusive.
Have any further questions?
The intention of watchdog agencies is to prevent fraudsters from making unauthorized crypto withdrawals. But history has shown us that those with the power to prod into private matters often overstep their bounds.
Yes, there's a need here. The blockchain is a murky swap full of scammers. Crooks prefer to target BTC because of its universal liquidity. The original crypto is by far the easiest to trade and spend.
But when privacy is a concern, you do have options. And if you think you're being watched, now you know how to find out!