[Bitcoin-development] Proposal: Encrypt bitcoin messages

Mike Hearn mike at plan99.net
Wed Aug 20 14:37:24 UTC 2014


I would be very happy if we upgraded the P2P protocol with MAC keys and a
simple home grown encryption layer, because:

   1. It's practically guaranteed that 5-eyes intelligence agencies are
   either systematically deanonymising Bitcoin users already (linking
   transactions to real world identities) or close to succeeding. Peter is
   correct. Given the way their infrastructure works, encrypting link level
   traffic would significantly raise the bar to such attacks. Quite possibly
   to the level where it's deemed unprofitable to continue.

   2. Tor is not a complete solution. The most interesting links to monitor
   are those from SPV clients connecting to Core nodes. Whilst Java SPV
   clients have the nice option of an easy bundled Tor client (er, once we fix
   the last bugs) clients that are not based on bitcoinj would have to use the
   full-blown Tor client, which is not only a PITA to bundle as Tor is not at
   all library-fied, but is a giant pile of C which is almost certainly
   exploitable. Even if it runs in a separate address space, for many
   platforms this is insufficient as a compromised Tor client could then go
   ahead and compromise your wallet app too.

Implementing a full Tor client is not a reasonable thing to ask of a wallet
developer, but doing HMAC checks and a simple ECDH exchange + AES would be
quite realistic.
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