If you’re wondering whether or not cryptocurrency is traceable, you’re not alone. With all the talk of anonymity and privacy surrounding crypto, it’s a valid question. Here’s what you need to know.
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Cryptocurrencies are often lauded for their anonymity. But is crypto really anonymous? And if not, how traceable is it?
Before we answer those questions, it’s important to understand the difference between pseudonymity and anonymity. With pseudonymity, you can transact without revealing your identity. But your activity can still be traced back to you if someone knows your pseudonym.
With anonymity, on the other hand, it’s impossible to trace transactions back to you even if someone knows your pseudonym. So, is crypto anonymous or pseudonymous?
The short answer is that it depends. Some cryptocurrencies are designed to be completely anonymous, while others are only pseudonymous. And then there are those that lie somewhere in between.
Let’s take a closer look at the most popular cryptocurrencies and how traceable they are.
What is Crypto?
Cryptocurrency is a digital or virtual currency that uses cryptography to secure its transactions and to control the creation of new units of the currency. Cryptocurrencies are decentralized, meaning they are not subject to government or financial institution control. Bitcoin, the first and most well-known cryptocurrency, was created in 2009. Cryptocurrencies are often traded on decentralized exchanges and can also be used to purchase goods and services.
How is Crypto Traceable?
Cryptocurrency is often lauded for its anonymity and lack of traceability, but the truth is that cryptocurrency is not as anonymous as you might think. In this article, we’ll take a look at how cryptocurrency is traceable and what you can do to keep your transactions private.
When you send or receive cryptocurrency, a unique code called a blockchain is generated. A blockchain is a digital ledger of all cryptocurrency transactions. It’s constantly growing as “completed” blocks are added to it with a new set of recordings. Each block contains a cryptographic hash of the previous block, a timestamp, and transaction data (generally represented as a Merkle tree). By design, a blockchain is resistant to modification of the data. Once recorded, the data in any given block cannot be altered retroactively without modification of all subsequent blocks, which requires consensus of the network majority.
It’s important to know that when you buy or sell cryptocurrency, your transaction is not anonymous. In fact, every transaction made with cryptocurrency is recorded on a digital ledger called a blockchain.
While the identity of the person or persons behind each blockchain transaction is anonymous, the transaction itself is not. This means that if authorities were to investigate a particular blockchain, they could trace back all transactions made on that blockchain and potentially identify the people behind them.
Of course, this only works if authorities are able to access the relevant blockchain in the first place. This is where exchanges come in.
Exchanges are businesses that allow people to buy and sell cryptocurrencies. Most exchanges require users to submit some form of identification before they can start trading, which means that authorities can potentially track down who is behind each exchange account.
Once authorities have access to an exchange’s records, they can use these records to track down who is behind each cryptocurrency transaction. So while cryptocurrency may be pseudo-anonymous, it is not completely anonymous.
Every computer that’s connected to the internet has a unique IP address. When you visit a website, that site’s server records your IP address.
Similarly, every transaction made on the blockchain is associated with a unique IP address. So, if someone wanted to track down a particular transaction, they could look up the IP address associated with it and potentially identify the person who made the transaction.
However, it’s important to note that IP addresses can be easily spoofed. So, just because a transaction is associated with a particular IP address doesn’t necessarily mean that the person who made the transaction actually lives at that address.
The bottom line is that crypto is traceable, but it is not necessarily easy to trace. There are a number of ways to make tracing more difficult, but it is ultimately up to the individual to decide how much effort they want to put into it.