CANCELLED Tracing Stolen Bitcoin (DLS in Cybersecurity)

12.07.2018, 16:15 – 17:15

2018/07/12 16:15-17:15

Speaker: Ross Anderson, University of Cambridge Computer Laboratory | Location: Hochschulstraße 10 (S2|02), Piloty Building, Room C110

DLS talk is cancelled due to illness

Organizer: CROSSING / GRK Privacy & Trust / CRISP


We've been exploring how to track stolen bitcoin. Previous attempts to do this had got entangled in the problem of dealing with transactions that split bitcoin into change, or that consolidate smaller sums into larger ones, and with mining fees. One answer comes from an unexpected direction: a legal precedent in 1816….

The High Court had to tackle a similar problem in Clayton’s case, which involved the assets and liabilities of a bank that had gone bust. The court ruled that money must be tracked through accounts on the basis of first-in, first out (FIFO); the first penny into an account goes to satisfy the first withdrawal, and so on. We therefore coded up FIFO taint tracking and found that it works very much better than the methods used to date. But this is not the end of the story, but the beginning. Given a new telescope, you point it at the heavens to see what new wonders you can see. Once we start looking seriously at the blockchain, and trying to trace real stolen bitcoin, we find that things are not at all as described either in the academic literature, or in the marketing material of the cryptocurrency industry.

Distinguished Lectures Series in Cybersecurity

With the Distinguished Lectures Series in Cybersecurity, every semester, we invite outstanding experts from science and industry to Darmstadt to discuss the multifaceted prospects and challenges of IT Security. In the lectures, the speakers present the results of trendsetting research from a variety of disciplines, give overviews of complex topics or show the current state of knowledge in their field of research. The lectures are free and open for everybody without prior registration.

After the lecture there is the possibility to get together.

See past Distinguished Lectures in Cybersecurity in pictures.