Can Blockchain Be Traced?

April 25th, 2018

Blockchain technology is an innovative concept that is slowly garnering the attention of major businesses and companies around the world. This technology is known for its anonymity, but it is still a matter of concern, whether blockchain transactions can be traced or not. The answer may surprise many blockchain technology users, but it can be traced. This is not because of loopholes in the system, but because web merchants routinely leak data about all of your purchases or expenses. Such data leaks can easily be linked back to the individual.

The number of online merchants accepting blockchain payments is increasing, individuals are making the most out of this opportunity. Blockchain promises anonymity, where transactions are recorded but it is linked only to the electronic address. According to this blockchain technology, whatever you purchase can’t be traced specifically to the user. This is proving to be handy for many, but you need to understand anonymity is still not perfect here. Privacy can be preserved as long as the transaction is not linked to you, but soon someone can make this data leak and everything will be revealed. Now, this is an increasing concern among individuals, who are hoping to use Blockchain technology to make anonymous purchases.

How Can It Be Traced?

The way that information is leaked during simple purchases makes it easy to link blockchain users with the transaction, even though they may be using additional privacy protections. So who is the culprit here? Web trackers and cookies spoil the fun and are to blame. Small pieces of codes are deliberately implanted on to the websites, which send out information to third parties about how people use the site. In most cases, web trackers send this information to Facebook, Google, and other popular sites to track purchase amounts, page usage, and other details. Some web trackers even send out personally identifiable information like as email, address, and username.

This is how all personal information is leaked onto the internet and the buyer can be traced easily by law enforcement agencies, governments, and various other malicious programmers.

How Easily Can You Be Traced?

Now that you know blockchain transactions can be traced, it’s important to know how easily this data or information can be connected to other people. To trace the blockchain user personally identifiable information such as an email, address and name are necessary. It is surprising to know that major merchants around the world that allow blockchain payments leak information. It was found that 53 out of 130 merchants leak payment information to around 40 different third parties. Such information is usually leaked from shopping cart pages.

All this information leakages are intentional for analytics and advertising. Some researchers are also claiming that extra information is also sent to third parties. Details like the exact transaction amount, your browsing habits, and various other serious details are sent to trackers. This is a serious problem, especially for individuals who are blinding trusting this blockchain technology for its anonymity. The technology itself is secure enough and none of your details are leaked, but it’s the merchants who are spoiling all the fun.

What Do You Do Now?

There are few ways that can help you hide blockchain transactions. Many online services are available, which help you to hide this type of information. CoinJoin is one that makes it identify to trace. Blockchain users can now protect themselves being traced using tools such as uBlock Origin, AdBlock Plus, and Ghostery. These tools are undoubtedly helpful, but at times can miss trackers or at times prevent your purchase completely. All these defenses can be effective, but you need to realize that it’s far from being perfect.

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