Tag Archives: mix networks

Bitmessage address mixing

Riffle shuffle

This post introduces the concept of address mixing in Bitmessage - what it is, why it is useful, and how it could be done.

This post does not contain a complete algorithm nor claim to know the best solution to the problem, but is rather intended to start a debate on the best way to achieve the goals described in the following section:

What is address mixing?

Address mixing is when a group of people who knows the Bitmessage addresses of each other, works together to create a list of alternate addresses owned by the same group of people, but without knowing who owns which address.

In other words, everybody creates a new address and shares it with the others in such a way that no member of the group (or anybody outside of the group) can deduce which of the new addresses belong to a specific person of the group.

The idea is that of a trustless mix network - i.e. one that doesn't require anyone to trust anyone else for the process to work.

For this purpose, we assume that any adversary has knowledge of the people in the group, as well as any CMLs or DMLs used by the group.

Why is address mixing useful?

Address mixing potentially has a lot of use cases, but the most obvious is the case where a group of people wants to anonymously send messages to each other without revealing who is the sender, while still convincing everybody that the sender is a member of the group.

One could easily imagine a scenario where this group of people wants to conduct a completely anonymous survey (or maybe an election) while ensuring that only the responses of group members are regarded as valid.

Messages in Bitmessage only provide pseudonymity; if you know the identity of the person behind the sender address, he or she is not anonymous at all. This is undesirable in certain scenarios where the senders of messages wish to be completely anonymous to the group.

Of course, decentralized mailing lists (DMLs or chans) already provides the functionality of sending anonymous messages to a group (and, in fact, the address mixing schemes proposed here will make use of chans), but receiving a message anonymously in a chan only proves that the sender knows of the chan, and not that the sender is an accepted member of the group of people using the chan.

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Bitcoin and related concepts

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This post contains my notes in my attempt to describe the ecosystem surrounding Bitcoin and cryptocurrency in general as well as some other concepts that I have researched for my thesis in Computer Science.

The reader is assumed to have a basic understanding of how Bitcoin works.

If you are interested, the referenced papers are collected in BibTeX format here.

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