Is Blockchain Anonymous?

By Rushali Shome

A lot of you have probably wondered to yourselves: is blockchain anonymous? If you subscribe to one of the myths about blockchain that we busted, you possibly think the answer to that question is “yes”. However, that answer is really not even half as simple as you would imagine it to be.

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Blockchain is frequently termed to be completely anonymous. While that is not entirely untrue, making such a blanket statement would be akin to doing a great disservice to what the blockchain technology really is. Besides being a decentralized, scalable solution, blockchain also frequently offers the benefits of anonymity and privacy. But does it always do so?

The Truth About Blockchain’s Anonymity

Blockchain networks, because of encryption based on complex and robust cryptographic principles, can frequently be obfuscated quite effectively in a way that your transactions and data cannot be traced back to you.

Moreover, if the concept of zero knowledge proofs is used in a certain blockchain network, then it becomes possible to execute commands and blockchain smart contracts without having to explicitly hand over data in way of proof.

Therefore, it is indeed highly possible to make blockchain completely anonymous and private in nature, and this largely depends on what kind of cryptographic algorithm has been used for setting up a certain network. For blockchain networks underlying privacy coins like Monero and DASH, anonymity is key.

However, in certain other cases, blockchain can be pseudonymous rather than anonymous, which is the case with the Bitcoin blockchain.

Here, your public key is a clearly visible string of alphanumeric characters that can show a certain wallet that has had a specific transaction.

However, for a blockchain network such as the Bitcoin blockchain, if you do not make use of specific measures to maintain a disconnect between that public key and your real identity, there is a possibility of a certain transaction being traced back to you.

Even so, there are certain measures you can undertake in order to maintain a certain element of anonymity and privacy, one of them being the frequent change of wallet address. If you do so, it becomes harder and harder for hackers to intercept your transactions or necessarily trace them back to you.

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Moreover, if a private blockchain is being used by a certain company or a consortium, then the ones running the blockchain can decide to keep it either anonymous or not, based on what objective they are trying to achieve via the establishment of an enterprise blockchain.

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Rushali Shome

Rushali Shome is a history undergraduate with a keen interest in puns, politics and beyond. When not typing away furiously in the “Notes” section of her phone, she can be found trying to catch the eye of servers at restaurants or weddings for a second helping.

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