14 May 2015 Identifying Bitcoin users by transaction behavior
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Abstract
Digital currencies, such as Bitcoin, offer convenience and security to criminals operating in the black marketplace. Some Bitcoin marketplaces, such as Silk Road, even claim anonymity. This claim contradicts the findings in this work, where long term transactional behavior is used to identify and verify account holders. Transaction timestamps and network properties observed over time contribute to this finding. The timestamp of each transaction is the result of many factors: the desire purchase an item, daily schedule and activities, as well as hardware and network latency. Dynamic network properties of the transaction, such as coin flow and the number of edge outputs and inputs, contribute further to reveal account identity. In this paper, we propose a novel methodology for identifying and verifying Bitcoin users based on the observation of Bitcoin transactions over time. The behavior we attempt to quantify roughly occurs in the social band of Newell's time scale. A subset of the Blockchain 230686 is taken, selecting users that initiated between 100 and 1000 unique transactions per month for at least 6 different months. This dataset shows evidence of being nonrandom and nonlinear, thus a dynamical systems approach is taken. Classification and authentication accuracies are obtained under various representations of the monthly Bitcoin samples: outgoing transactions, as well as both outgoing and incoming transactions are considered, along with the timing and dynamic network properties of transaction sequences. The most appropriate representations of monthly Bitcoin samples are proposed. Results show an inherent lack of anonymity by exploiting patterns in long-term transactional behavior.
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John V. Monaco, "Identifying Bitcoin users by transaction behavior", Proc. SPIE 9457, Biometric and Surveillance Technology for Human and Activity Identification XII, 945704 (14 May 2015); doi: 10.1117/12.2177039; https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2177039
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