BitcoinZH Introduction: No controversy, just intrigue from the Quora-like Zhihu.com, as the CEO of 8btc.com explains in great detail how Satoshi Nakamoto retained their anonymity
###How did Satoshi Nakamoto manage to conceal their identity on the all-seeing, all-knowing internet?
In terms of cryptography, algorithms, economics and sociology, they were extremely high-level. There aren’t many people could invent the Bitcoin protocol and code its client implentation. How could they, in the midst of a community, invent and develop Bitcoin and keep their identity hidden?
The internet has developed into something so vast, it should be easy to find one person’s identity. Perhaps when posting articles online, registering domain names, releasing software, etc. they kept their IP address well hidden, but in an everyday setting, there’s no way something didn’t slip. They just never interacted with other people nearby? Wouldn’t the people nearby notice? After they noticed, wouldn’t word start to spread?
###巴比特 CEO at 8btc.com:
###About Satoshi Nakamoto
Among the members of the Cypherpunks mailing list, Satoshi was/were part of the younger generation (perhaps 30 when they first appeared). But they were conspicuous even on a mailing list that included Phil Zimmerman (PGP’s developer), John Gilmore (star employee at Sun Microsystems), Steven Bellovin (worked at Bell Labs, then Professor at Columbia’s Computer Science department), Bram Cohen (Creator of BitTorrent), Timothy C. May (Assistant Chief Scientist at Intel) and Julian Assange (Wikileaks founder). Although these big fish of crypto haven’t mentioned them explicitly, we can see from a few details in what esteem Satoshi was/were held.
Hal Finney (an inventor of PGP) was Satoshi’s earliest ally. He had the affectionate nickname of Watson to Satoshi’s Alexander Graham Bell.
In 2011, Wikileaks began accepting donations in bitcoin, to the great acclaim of the community. But Satoshi made a statement to say this was not a good development and suggested to Assange that Wikileaks not do it. Although Wikileaks later played down the incident, it remains Satoshi’s last appearance and hints at the influence they had over Assange.
Satoshi’s status was even higher than their forerunner in digital currency, David Chaum. You can see the kind of person David Chaum was very vividly in the 20-year old Out of Control by Kevin Kelly, a star engineer biography like that of Steve Jobs. The difference between Satoshi and Chaum was that although Chaum didn’t succeed, Satoshi drew on the lessons learned. It’s perhaps for this reason that Kelly holds a negative view of Bitcoin, related to technical issues and anonymous marketplaces. Kelly was much grieved at Chaum’s failure, considering his great affection, so he never quite trusted Satoshi’s abilities could reverse that fate.
Satoshi Nakamoto weren’t the type to be in awe of the failed senior generation of cryptocurrency masters, on the contrary he took exception to the idea that ‘most people nowadays are more interested in the 90s’ and in an email exchange with a researcher (the recently published Trammell/Nakamoto emails) emphasized Bitcoin’s self-sufficiency and teased the failures of systems that depend on third parties (like e-cash). I hope people can see the difference, and that people believe ‘I was the first person to realise what we’re trying to build is a trustless system with no third parties’. Satoshi’s self-confidence was evident at a glance.
Satoshi’s reflection on the failure of Beenz, Flooz, e-cash, B-money and other digital currencies was that the primary reason was the centralization of their architecture. This was because once a digital currency was backed by a single company which closed down, or its transactions processed by a centralized server that was hacked, it risked a crisis of confidence that would cause it to implode. In February 2009, Satoshi wrote on an IRC channel:
“Governments are good at cutting off the heads of a centrally controlled networks like Napster, but pure P2P networks like Gnutella and Tor seem to be holding their own.”
Nakamoto’s achievements in cryptography were exquisite. He showed many errors once taken to be extraneous were in fact by design, such as the the hidden back door in the Koblitz curve, used by the NSA in cryptographic standards. Or that if the Elliptic Curve Digital Signature Algorithm were applied a further two times, it would resist even a quantum attack.
When publishing Bitcoin projects online, Satoshi would use meticulously prepared identities and domains. As early as 18 August, 2009, he had registered the bitcoin.org domain and bitcoin.net as a protective measure. The whois information has no value, pointing to a small ISP in Helsinki. The registrar info is for a small company named anonymousspeech.com. Why this choice? Because they claim to maintain client anonymity in domain name registration, guaranteed not to be found online or by government. Researchers have pursued this company but their efforts were fruitless. Because Nakamoto used Tor when sending emails, and because the rights to bitcoin.org have been handed over, which also explains how it ended up in Helsinki. But bitcoin.net definitely remains in Nakamoto’s hands. Once the domains had been set up, on 11 February, 2009 Satoshi published his Bitcoin project on http://p2pfoundation.ning.com.
Significantly, on the Bitcoin genesis block, Satoshi recorded the inalterable message, “The Times 03/Jan/2009 Chancellor on brink of second bailout for banks”. This was that day’s headline from the London Times. This showed both the time of the first block’s creation, and mocked the weak systems of the crisis-stricken banks. It may just be a smokescreen regarding their true identity. Whose is the black hand behind bitcoin? People may have misunderstood the significance of the creation of Bitcoin. In the white paper, A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System, Nakamoto barely uses the word currency. Yet its timestamp was hinted at in that genesis block. It took a few years for developers to begin to understand the far-reaching significance of the blockchain.
Satoshi Nakamoto’s actions were meticulously careful. In regular email correspondence he would use PGP and Tor. Gavin Andressen, Chief Scientist at the Bitcoin Foundation, once told a reporter, a lot of people claim to have received emails from Satoshi, but you can easily see through them because they haven’t used his PGP signature. Nakamoto encrypted all communications even with his closest collaborators and never revealed any personal details. Gavin, Nick Szabo, Hal Finney and others all know very little about him.
Handing the project over to Gavin involved just a quick series of emails. Given the FBI placed undercover agents to work on the Silk Road case, Satoshi was clearly far-sighted. He even planted a few false characteristics for people to follow up on. Errors such as English mistakes but GMT-based schedule, his Japanese name, using ‘we’ in the white paper, unfamiliar technical vocabulary, mimicking the style of his fellow cryptographers, repeatedly using ‘of course’ without a comma in different ways (the problem of course is), using the word ‘preclude’, which appears in less than 1.5% of cryptographic literature. These smokescreens met with some success, with many researchers and private investigators having searched for their true identity. There are tens of candidates including talented mathematicians, big fish the tech pool, the possibility of a team, but not one checks out.
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