Reported Cointelegraph, a mysterious entity may be collecting the IP addresses of Bitcoin users and linking them to their BTC addresses, potentially violating their privacy, according to a blog post by Bitcoin app developer 0xB10C. The entity has reportedly been active since March 2018 and has used a range of 812 different IP addresses to obscure its identity while collecting data.
0xB10C, the developer of several Bitcoin analytics websites, including Mempool.observer and Transactionfee.info, refers to the entity as “LinkingLion” because its IP addresses pass through LionLink network's colocation data centre.
The entity opens connections with Bitcoin full nodes that are visible on the network and asks the node which version of the Bitcoin software it is using. About 85% of the time, the entity closes its connection without responding. However, 0xB10C states that the entity behaves differently in 15% of cases, either listening for inventory messages that contain transactions or sending a request for an address and listening for both inventory and address messages. It then closes the connection within 10 minutes.
The behaviour indicates that the entity may be recording the timing of transactions to determine which node first received a transaction. This information can then be used to determine the IP address associated with a particular Bitcoin address. According to 0xB10C, the entity can use that information to link broadcast transactions to IP addresses.
To help protect the community from this privacy threat, 0xB10C has produced an open-source ban list that nodes can use to ban LinkingLion from connecting to them. However, the entity could circumvent this ban list by changing the IP addresses it uses to connect. In 0xB10C’s view, the only permanent solution to the problem is to change the transaction logic within Bitcoin Core, which developers have so far been unable to do.
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