Since our first report surveying user privacy in Bitcoin wallets, not much has changed for wallet providers. Thankfully, we’re seeing newcomers consistently adopt an HD architecture to help users avoid address reuse, but many of the big privacy pushes during 2014 — such as “stealth” addresses and Tor support — stalled out during 2015. Wallets seem to be mostly in a holding pattern, waiting for their competitors to take the lead on innovating.
Improvements are desperately needed to keep Bitcoin independent and safe. If you’re like me, and you want to see more progress in this area in 2016, it’s time to vote with your wallet. Let companies know that you care about privacy, and choose the wallets that respond to this demand.
Although the wallets haven’t changed much, the Open Bitcoin Privacy Project has made a lot of improvements to our privacy analysis. Our threat model has matured to take a more systematic approach, considering the many ways that privacy attackers can work, and the corresponding countermeasures that wallet providers can employ to protect their users. We’ve nearly doubled the number of criteria we look at for each wallet from thirty-eight points to sixty-eight. Also, due to popular demand for more wallets, this edition includes a total of twenty wallet clients, doubled from ten. That’s a 250% increase in the amount of data that we’ve collected this report, made possible thanks to the many volunteers who helped rate wallets.
All wallets were rated by at least two professionally unaffiliated volunteers with cross-checking for consensus to mitigate bias. Along with information solicited from wallet providers, these ratings represent the accumulation of over two thousand data points! …and we have the spreadsheets to prove it. At the end of this report you’ll find acknowledgements for the individuals and companies who generously donated their time and energy to produce the report, as well as instructions on how you can donate bitcoin to the organization; all proceeds go toward the costs of producing the reports and future Bitcoin privacy projects.
We’ll be blogging about our findings to paint a clearer picture of the data in the coming weeks following this report’s release. However, if you have questions about the details, you can find all of our source data on GitHub. We’re always looking for volunteers — amateur enthusiasts, highly skilled coders, and everywhere between — so give us a shout if you can help out.
It’s been just a little over seven years since the first Bitcoin block was mined. Here’s to seven years of the censorship-resistant Bitcoin blockchain, and to many more.