Namecoin and Anonymity

domob
Posts: 1124
Joined: Mon Jun 24, 2013 11:27 am
Contact:

Re: Namecoin and Anonymity

Post by domob » Tue Sep 23, 2014 7:14 am

mightbemike wrote:Respectfully disagree. Sometimes overly simplified statements are useful, like when complicated topics need to be explained in a quick and easy way and there is nothing important to be lost by avoiding a more accurate, detailed answer. Strict accuracy can be compromised a little to make things easy. But "Namecoin is anonymous" is just not a useful statement. It is misleading and vague. The Namecoin team should avoid making these statements.

Some topics are very important to certain people. Anonymity is one of those topics. To some small group of users, getting a strictly accurate statement is extremely important. A little hedging to make things nice and easy is often useful, but is inappropriate in the case of anonymity.

To say N is A, where A is poorly defined needs to mean that N is always A, or at least N is A by default.

You can make a statement with a long string of IFs and BUTs if you're careful to be precise and give details. Or you can make the strictly accurate and most appropriate comment "Namecoin is not anonymous."
Exactly this.
BTC: 1domobKsPZ5cWk2kXssD8p8ES1qffGUCm | NMC: NCdomobcmcmVdxC5yxMitojQ4tvAtv99pY
BM-GtQnWM3vcdorfqpKXsmfHQ4rVYPG5pKS
Use your Namecoin identity as OpenID: https://nameid.org/

sudoquai
Posts: 166
Joined: Fri Dec 20, 2013 2:48 am
os: linux
Contact:

Re: Namecoin and Anonymity

Post by sudoquai » Tue Sep 23, 2014 7:58 am

mightbemike wrote: You can make a statement with a long string of IFs and BUTs if you're careful to be precise and give details.
I assume in this case Namecoin would be anonymous. It's even possible to say Namecoins are physical coins, which can be worn as a necklace and produced manually without the help of computers > http://namecoins.com
domob wrote:it can be used quite anonymously
Details are already posted here by domob with an Ack from cassini.

It is mentionable, that the step with buying a domain can be simplified by buying Namecoin with fiat cash from your local personal exchanger on the street. Additionally i would use a netbook with wifi connected to a open city wifi network. The usage of Tor, anonymous exchanger accounts or mixing services are not required at all in this case. It's would be usefull to buy the netbook as well with cash.
mightbemike wrote: Or you can make the strictly accurate and most appropriate comment "Namecoin is not anonymous."
This is not necessary - enough details are already posted here with additional references from Coindesk and Trend Micro. If there is an error somewhere, would be nice to be pointed to it.

If statement A can't be proved this doesn't mean that statement B as a contrary argument must be correct in terms of a strong mathematical proof. In this case both statements could be right or to be more accurate "not defined".

Nevertheless we have the freedom to talk about everything, as long as common laws are respected and neither a natural or juristical person is affected. This is not appropriate for Namecoin to be most accurate, because it is not a registered company neither a natural person.
NameID: id/sudo.wonder >>> Namecoin @ Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/namecoin.org

domob
Posts: 1124
Joined: Mon Jun 24, 2013 11:27 am
Contact:

Re: Namecoin and Anonymity

Post by domob » Tue Sep 23, 2014 9:44 am

sudoquai wrote:
domob wrote:it can be used quite anonymously
Details are already posted here by domob with an Ack from cassini.

It is mentionable, that the step with buying a domain can be simplified by buying Namecoin with fiat cash from your local personal exchanger on the street. Additionally i would use a netbook with wifi connected to a open city wifi network. The usage of Tor, anonymous exchanger accounts or mixing services are not required at all in this case. It's would be usefull to buy the netbook as well with cash.
This quote seems taken out of context. My full post clearly states (in emphasised text) that while Namecoin can indeed be used quite anonymously, I wouldn't market it as such since it is hard to do that. I agree with mightbemike here that you should either provide full details (as in my full post) or call Namecoin "not anonymous" if you want a simple statement.
BTC: 1domobKsPZ5cWk2kXssD8p8ES1qffGUCm | NMC: NCdomobcmcmVdxC5yxMitojQ4tvAtv99pY
BM-GtQnWM3vcdorfqpKXsmfHQ4rVYPG5pKS
Use your Namecoin identity as OpenID: https://nameid.org/

phelix
Posts: 1631
Joined: Thu Aug 18, 2011 6:59 am

Re: Namecoin and Anonymity

Post by phelix » Tue Sep 23, 2014 12:01 pm

For the reason Sudoquai stated above that it could lure illicit use it is probably a good idea not to advertise Namecoin as "anonymous".

+1 to the wiki entry

IMHO both sentences "Namecoin is anonymous" and "Namecoin is not anonymous" are wrong. I would say: "In theory Namecoin can be used anonymously but in practice it is usually not."
nx.bit - some namecoin stats
nf.bit - shortcut to this forum

virtual_master
Posts: 541
Joined: Mon May 20, 2013 12:03 pm
Contact:

Re: Namecoin and Anonymity

Post by virtual_master » Tue Sep 23, 2014 7:37 pm

I don't want to bring more arguments because some people could be in emotionalized state and logical arguments don't help. :)
But let us ask Khal what is his opinion in this issue because he is the oldest known Namecoiner and his opinion will be more likely accepted by all.
http://namecoinia.org/
Calendars for free to print: 2014 Calendar in JPG | 2014 Calendar in PDF Protect the Environment with Namecoin: 2014 Calendar in JPG | 2014 Calendar in PDF
BTC: 15KXVQv7UGtUoTe5VNWXT1bMz46MXuePba | NMC: NABFA31b3x7CvhKMxcipUqA3TnKsNfCC7S

biolizard89
Posts: 1993
Joined: Tue Jun 05, 2012 6:25 am
os: linux

Re: Namecoin and Anonymity

Post by biolizard89 » Wed Sep 24, 2014 12:05 am

I have several project checkpoints due in class in the next 2 days, and I don't think I'm saying anything that changes the conclusions by Mike, John, Daniel, etc. However, a few quick points:

Namecoin is by definition not anonymous, because in the field of privacy research, the word "anonymous" means that there is zero information linking any of your transactions to reference points, within a larger anonymity set (which in this case would be the group of Namecoin users). In Namecoin, there is information linking your transactions to reference points, i.e. I can say with certainty that user X (identified by a Namecoin address that I sent NMC to) made a transaction to user Y using the funds that I provided. Whether user X can be traced to an IP is not relevant to the fact that this disqualifies Namecoin as anonymous.

A better question to ask would be, is Namecoin pseudonymous? (Note that this is not the same word as "pseudo-anonymous", which to my knowledge is only used by people who don't understand the terminology.) Pseudonymous means that transactions within the system made by a user X can be linked to each other via some reference point, but not to a reference point outside the network such as an IP address or real name. (In other words, you are operating under an identity which is a pseudonym). An example of pseudonymity would be OnionCat; you are assigned an IPv6 address which is routed via Tor, but all of your traffic goes through that single IPv6 address and is therefore linkable. When used very, very carefully, Namecoin can be pseudonymous. To do this, among other things, you would need to use separate wallets for each pseudonym, always connect to the network via Whonix (not vanilla Tor), mine your own NMC (or obtain them via a very large CoinJoin mix, which does not exist for Namecoin), not reveal anything about shared ownership in the structure of your name values, not reveal anything about shared ownership in the timing of your transactions, make sure that your .bit domains only point to .onion or .b32.i2p addresses, etc. I'm probably forgetting to list a lot of stuff there, but even so, it goes without saying that very very few users will be able to follow those instructions. It would certainly be extremely dangerous to advertise Namecoin as pseudonymous without listing all of those prerequisites for such functionality.

So another question would be, is Namecoin location-anonymous? Location-anonymous means that your identity is public knowledge, but your physical location and IP address are hidden. This is getting closer to realistic. If you run Namecoin via Whonix (not vanilla Tor), and you either mine your own NMC or obtain them from an exchanger who doesn't blacklist Tor, then there is a good chance that you are location-anonymous. It's still not entirely realistic, because most major exchanges blacklist Tor for AML reasons, and if you trade OTC, then you risk getting scammed since there's no support for multisig in Namecoin yet. And it's certainly still dangerous to advertise it as location-anonymous unless you mention these caveats.

Namecoin as typically used, even if you use vanilla Tor, is definitely not anonymous, pseudonymous, or location-anonymous. A proxy leak was fixed in Namecoin-Qt very recently, which would have caused your IP to be visible even if you were using Tor. (Whonix would have saved you from that.) There may very well be additional leaks there; to my knowledge no one has checked for them with Wireshark.

There are certain systems where it is legitimate to say that they are anonymous/pseudonymous/location-anonymous without qualifiers. An example would be Zerocash, since the transactions aren't linked to a pseudonym, and they're planning to include an anonymous router built-in (it will probably not be Tor; it will most likely be closer to MixMinion in design). Darkcoin is not a good example, because right now your anonymity set is of size 3, which is not sufficient to deter attackers. And Bitcoin/Namecoin is certainly not a good example.

For the record, I believe the official bit.namecoin.info website mentions that you can use Namecoin with location-anonymity, but it is still not anonymous. (I don't have time to check the site right now, but if that's what it says, then I think it's accurate, although I want to expand that paragraph with a link to more information for people who are interested in doing that.) Location-anonymity is still better privacy-wise than some other systems (credit cards aren't location-anonymous because most credit card processors blacklist Tor exits). But it is definitely not equivalent to either pseudonymity or anonymity.

This stuff is complex, and it is standard policy to err on the side of caution rather than on the side of fraud when making simplifications. It is better for everyone (including Namecoin's long-term success) for high-risk users to not use Namecoin at all, than for them to use Namecoin in an unsafe way which may cause them to be arrested, blackmailed, tortured, or killed. (And yes, that really does happen quite frequently... look at Syria.)

The correct way to address this question in 3 sentences is as follows: "Namecoin is not anonymous, although you *may* be able to hide your IP and physical location (but not your identity) if you use Whonix for all of your interactions with it. For more information on Namecoin and privacy, see the longer explanation at (link). Be aware that using Namecoin in situations where privacy leaks could be dangerous is strongly discouraged." If you want it to be shorter than that, a good approximation is simply "Namecoin is not anonymous."

Do I like the fact that Namecoin isn't anonymous? Of course not; I love anonymity technology and I think we should be aiming to improve on this front. I have advocated for a serious look at implementing the Zerocash protocol extensions, which if implemented would make Namecoin actually anonymous (with the caveat that you can still fuck things up, e.g. if you renew two different Zerocoin-funded names in the exact same block 10 times in a row, then you reveal that those two names are probably linked, which reverts you to pseudonymity). The fact is that Zerocash isn't released yet, it will probably take a while to implement it in Namecoin after it comes out, and we will want to let Zerocash run on its own for a while before we conclude that it's actually safe as advertised. (Yes, Matt Green has a stellar reputation, but he can make mistakes.) My opinion is that we shouldn't even try to implement Zerocash for at least 6 months after Zerocash's public release. Until this pipe dream happens, it has no relevance in how we advertise Namecoin.
Jeremy Rand, Lead Namecoin Application Engineer
NameID: id/jeremy
DyName: Dynamic DNS update client for .bit domains.

Donations: BTC 1EcUWRa9H6ZuWPkF3BDj6k4k1vCgv41ab8 ; NMC NFqbaS7ReiQ9MBmsowwcDSmp4iDznjmEh5

John Kenney
Posts: 94
Joined: Sat Mar 29, 2014 2:20 pm
os: linux
Location: Sheffield, England
Contact:

Re: Namecoin and Anonymity

Post by John Kenney » Sun Sep 28, 2014 2:17 pm

domob wrote:It has basically "the same" level of anonymity/pseudonymity that Bitcoin has - if done correctly and with a lot of diligence, it can be used quite anonymously. But this involves things like mining coins yourself, buying them with anonymous exchange accounts for mixed bitcoins or at least having a couple of exchange accounts and sending coins through all of them before buying a name with them. And of course not using the same wallet to register "anonymous" and "not anonymous" names, as well as not leaking any information in the names themselves (IP address of your hosting provider?) and using Tor to connect to the Namecoin network. Given how Silkroad and DPR were identified (by quite heavy mistakes), I believe that if DPR had used Namecoin and really known what he was doing (not sure about that in his case), then Namecoin itself wouldn't have been the weakest link.

That being said, I think that Namecoin shouldn't considered even close to anonymous for average users. And thus, also not advertised as it. Those who know enough to use it "somewhat anonymously" will already know about the exact properties in detail. Those who learn about it in social media channels will instead make mistakes and compromise their anonymity.
There are more services for Bitcoin, it has a larger network & it's still extremely hard to use anonymously. Mixing services seem even more impractical on Namecoin due to the smaller network. Bitcoin also have a number of pages on their website that state it isn't anonymous (unless you jump through lots of hoops & then only maybe).
Bitcoin is not anonymous
https://bitcoin.org/en/you-need-to-know

https://bitcoin.org/en/protect-your-privacy

Apparently DPR/SR got busted due to using recaptcha & not sending their connections to the recaptcha servers through tor, exposing their server's real IP address. Maybe that was just a cover story though. Just because there are easier ways to bust people doesn't prove the security of Bitcoin (or tor, or namecoin).

jonasbits
Posts: 36
Joined: Tue Mar 04, 2014 4:47 pm
os: linux

Re: Namecoin and Anonymity

Post by jonasbits » Sun Sep 28, 2014 5:45 pm

biolizard89 wrote:I have several project checkpoints due in class in the next 2 days, and I don't think I'm saying anything that changes the conclusions by Mike, John, Daniel, etc. However, a few quick points:
Thank you for this excellent explanation!
My Namecoin address: NC3HGHk527xuWZBgMdGJ2GxjpRSw8D4oA6

phelix
Posts: 1631
Joined: Thu Aug 18, 2011 6:59 am

Re: Namecoin and Anonymity

Post by phelix » Tue Sep 30, 2014 6:03 pm

Note this on https://bitcoin.org/en/you-need-to-know:

Bitcoin is not anonymous

Pretty explicit.


Should we create a wiki entry or even a special page on the homepage?
nx.bit - some namecoin stats
nf.bit - shortcut to this forum

biolizard89
Posts: 1993
Joined: Tue Jun 05, 2012 6:25 am
os: linux

Re: Namecoin and Anonymity

Post by biolizard89 » Tue Sep 30, 2014 6:07 pm

phelix wrote:Note this on https://bitcoin.org/en/you-need-to-know:

Bitcoin is not anonymous

Pretty explicit.


Should we create a wiki entry or even a special page on the homepage?
Last I checked there's already something on bit.namecoin.info, but I agree something should go on www.namecoin.info as well.
Jeremy Rand, Lead Namecoin Application Engineer
NameID: id/jeremy
DyName: Dynamic DNS update client for .bit domains.

Donations: BTC 1EcUWRa9H6ZuWPkF3BDj6k4k1vCgv41ab8 ; NMC NFqbaS7ReiQ9MBmsowwcDSmp4iDznjmEh5

Post Reply