While all this time if you have been thinking about that your information on the decentralized blockchain network is not monitored by any central authority and is completely safe, please think again! As per the latest news out there, the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) has been monitoring the Bitcoin’s blockchain network with an aim to identify users available there,
The Intercept has recently reported some highly classified documents from whistleblower Edward Snowden which proves that the U.S security agency has been keeping a tab on Bitcoin users with closer surveillance of the network. The report also reveals that a top-secret program-code called was primarily initiated to “track down the senders and receivers of bitcoins,” and monitor the possible flow of money between terrorist organizations.
The NSA has been specifically targetting users using an Oakster subprogram called MONKEYROCKET that was advertised back in 2012 as a “non-Western Internet anonymization service.” The MONEYROCKET subprogram is said to have targetted users specifically in Asia, Europe, and the Middle East. One of the memos read: “SSG11 analysts have found value in the MONKEYROCKET access to help track down senders and receivers of bitcoin.”
This program actually worked as a dupe and attracted more users who were thinking that using this they were getting a deeper level of anonymity but in practical reality, things happened the other way round as NSA was able to directly tap in the user data and the browser history.
By gaining access to the user data, the NSA was also able to get its hands on crucial user data like passwords, media access control address and a user session. They also have captured other personal information like the IP address and billing details. The agency is said to have been thoroughly working to find any possible link between their own data and the “bitcoin targets”.
IT is being said that the NSA made use of some sophisticated tools that were made available to the U.S spy agency that could tap into optic-fiber line and other Technical Centres in Europe. Bitcoin was one of the key targets to be monitored in addition to Liberty Reserve, which is now defunct on the charges of money laundering using digital currencies.
Expert’s Reactions to the Report
While reacting to this reports of NSA spying the Bitcoin blockchain network, Matthew Green, assistant professor at the Johns Hopkins University Information Security Institute, said: “[This is] bad news for privacy, because it means that in addition to the really hard problem of making the actual transactions private … you also have to make sure all the network connections [are secure].”
Emin Gun Sirer, associate professor and co-director of the Initiative for Cryptocurrencies and Contracts at Cornell University, told The Intercept that financial privacy is of utmost importance to the Bitcoin community. After learning about the NSA’s operations, it is highly likely that people who are privacy-conscious will certainly consider moving to other privacy-oriented options.