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Those transactions were very, very vulnerable.’ Those privacy flaws were especially acute before a change to Monero‘s code in February of 2017, the researchers note. But transactions before that time remain dangerously identifiable, and even payments after that change may be easier to identify than Monero‘s privacy-sensitive users might think.

Monero is designed to mix up any given Monero “coin” with other payments, so that anyone scouring Monero‘s blockchain can’t link it to any particular identity or previous transaction from the same source.

Both problems relate to how Monero hides the source of a payment, essentially by mixing the coin someone spends with a sampling of other coins used as decoys known as “mixins.” The researchers first note that simple tricks allow an observer to identify some of the decoy mixins used to cover for a real coin being spent.

As a result, the online underground has increasingly switched to Monero. But researchers now point to two distinct cracks in Monero‘s untraceability, one of which was fixed in its early 2017 revamp, and one that still lingers today, even as Monero coders have taken steps to fix it.
Monero is a decentralized cryptocurrency, meaning it is secure digital cash operated by a network of users. Transactions are confirmed by distributed consensus and then immutably recorded on the blockchain.
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