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Blockchain is Watching You: Profiling and Deanonymizing Ethereum Users

by   Ferenc Beres, et al.

Ethereum is the largest public blockchain by usage. It applies an account-based model, which is inferior to Bitcoin's unspent transaction output model from a privacy perspective. As the account-based models for blockchains force address reuse, we show how transaction graphs and other quasi-identifiers of users such as time-of-day activity, transaction fees, and transaction graph analysis can be used to reveal some account owners. To the best of our knowledge, we are the first to propose and implement Ethereum user profiling techniques based on user quasi-identifiers. Due to the privacy shortcomings of the account-based model, recently several privacy-enhancing overlays have been deployed on Ethereum, such as non-custodial, trustless coin mixers and confidential transactions. We assess the strengths and weaknesses of the existing privacy-enhancing solutions and quantitatively assess the privacy guarantees of the Etherum blockchain and ENS. We identify several heuristics as well as profiling and deanonymization techniques against some popular and emerging privacy-enhancing tools.


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