15

What would be the best way, if any, that one could change their address/account in order to make themselves unknown or hard to identify by people they traded with? More specifically, if I send ETH to someone, is there a way to prevent them from knowing exactly how much ETH I own?

Obviously I could create another account and transfer my ETH there, but it wouldn't be too hard for someone to "follow the money", especially if I use it to store ether and that only one transaction leads to it.

I could also create multiple accounts and split my ETH among them, but it doesn't seem efficient, is there anything better?

10

As far as I know the ideas in this article are not implemented yet, but take a look at it. It's an idea developed by Gav and Vlad when they were both on the Ethereum c++ core team.

Basically the idea is to have a smart contract that given two sets of address sources: source and destination, guarantees exactly one of the following two possible outcomes:

  • For each address in source the owner of the address controls an address in destination. The smart contract does some "magic" to ensure there is no way to track who's controlling which address. Thus you have your privacy.

  • If any address tries to tamper with the inner workings of the smart contract the address will be punished and the others rewarded. Thus making it very unappealing to cheat.

Because the credible threat of punishment, very few attempts to cheat are expected and thus normal operation will lead to the first guarantee only.

source.

  • 1
    Please don't post link-only questions. Could you summarize the points in that article at least? – Waqar Lim Mar 2 '16 at 13:13
  • 1
    Sure. I have updated my answer now. – Jacob Czepluch Mar 2 '16 at 13:48
7

All blockchain transactions are public so if you transfer money from one account to multiple accounts it will be clear that these accounts are linked. All someone needs to do is look at the transaction history on a chain explorer. The devs are looking into various options to enhance privacy. Trust-less privacy will arrive sometime in the future but for now probably your best option is to use an exchange as a mixer:

  • Set up several new accounts not linked to your existing ones.
  • Transfer money from your existing accounts to an exchange.
  • Transfer money from the exchange to your new accounts.
  • Never link the accounts.
4

You could use this method described by Peter Todd. Just replace BTC with ETH:

"For me personally shapeshift adds a lot of value to Bitcoin, as it gives me much stronger privacy by using Monero as an anonymous intermediary point. Specifically, I buy Monero on shapeshift, then sell it to xmr.to, which in turn sends bitcoins to the Bitcoin address of my choice."

https://np.reddit.com/r/Bitcoin/comments/3s085o/why_the_altcoin_takeover_scenario_has_become_a/cwt2prf

2

There are two options that I know right now that will lead to a dead end to the casual "follow the money on the blockchain" person.

  1. Use Shapeshift. Say you want to move 100 eth to a new account. Use shapeshift's "send exact amount" functionality and tell it you are going to send it exactly 2 eth. Enter a BTC address (or other altcoin) that you control in case something goes wrong. Enter your new ETH address in the return address field. And send 100 eth to it. If all goes well, shapeshift will take the ETH into its hot wallet, show you an error, and send that 100 eth to your new address from its hot wallet. Anyone following the money will end up in a sea of shapeshift transactions.

  2. The same as above, but using Poloniex or Kraken or another exchange. Deposit to your exchange account. Withdraw to a new eth account. This takes a bit longer and the exchange could still determine who you are but it should be mildly sufficient.

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