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(Business Insider)   The FBI is learning that seizing bitcoins is harder than they thought   (businessinsider.com) divider line 84
    More: Amusing, FBI, private keys  
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7285 clicks; posted to Geek » on 07 Oct 2013 at 5:09 PM (1 year ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2013-10-07 03:08:13 PM  
Actually, they seized them just fine.  They control them.  They just can't open them up.

It's like they have custody of a safe they can't open:  The owner can't access what is inside the safe, but the FBI can't see what's inside.

An impasse, if you would.
 
2013-10-07 03:22:56 PM  
Sounds like some lead pipe cryptanalysis is in order.
 
2013-10-07 03:38:18 PM  
It's "virtually" unpossible.
 
2013-10-07 03:46:51 PM  
For those of us who are uninitiated to Bitcoins: what prevents someone from copying Bitcoin files and doubling their money? I know that there are protections in place that prevent this, but I have no idea what the mechanism is.
 
2013-10-07 03:52:37 PM  
i1.ytimg.com

Seize them!   Yeah, I sees them.
 
2013-10-07 03:55:40 PM  

dittybopper: Actually, they seized them just fine.  They control them.  They just can't open them up.

It's like they have custody of a safe they can't open:  The owner can't access what is inside the safe, but the FBI can't see what's inside.

An impasse, if you would.


I'm not up on the technical details of Bitcoin, but isn't it more that they have a copy of a safe and if there were to exist any other copies they don't control those could still be accessed?
 
2013-10-07 03:58:27 PM  

pizen: dittybopper: Actually, they seized them just fine.  They control them.  They just can't open them up.

It's like they have custody of a safe they can't open:  The owner can't access what is inside the safe, but the FBI can't see what's inside.

An impasse, if you would.

I'm not up on the technical details of Bitcoin, but isn't it more that they have a copy of a safe and if there were to exist any other copies they don't control those could still be accessed?


True.  It's whoever gets there first with the password.  Which would be incredibly amusing in this case.
 
2013-10-07 04:01:30 PM  

Fubini: For those of us who are uninitiated to Bitcoins: what prevents someone from copying Bitcoin files and doubling their money? I know that there are protections in place that prevent this, but I have no idea what the mechanism is.


The mechanism is a very difficult mathematical formula that verifies a string of Bitcoin transactions.  You can make as many copies of your bitcoins as you like.  The moment those bitcoins hit a bitcoin server, however, they're "spent"; their IDs are added onto the transaction chain and communicated to other Bitcoin servers.
 
2013-10-07 04:05:06 PM  

Marcus Aurelius: Fubini: For those of us who are uninitiated to Bitcoins: what prevents someone from copying Bitcoin files and doubling their money? I know that there are protections in place that prevent this, but I have no idea what the mechanism is.

The mechanism is a very difficult mathematical formula that verifies a string of Bitcoin transactions.  You can make as many copies of your bitcoins as you like.  The moment those bitcoins hit a bitcoin server, however, they're "spent"; their IDs are added onto the transaction chain and communicated to other Bitcoin servers.


Interesting. I didn't know they needed a server network to operate.

I assume that this is somehow robust against timing-based attacks? I.e. if I submit a purchase to server A and server B which are both geographically distant then there is no small time window in which I can submit fraudulent purchase orders even though the money is already spent?
 
2013-10-07 04:19:06 PM  

Marcus Aurelius: Fubini: For those of us who are uninitiated to Bitcoins: what prevents someone from copying Bitcoin files and doubling their money? I know that there are protections in place that prevent this, but I have no idea what the mechanism is.

The mechanism is a very difficult mathematical formula that verifies a string of Bitcoin transactions.  You can make as many copies of your bitcoins as you like.  The moment those bitcoins hit a bitcoin server, however, they're "spent"; their IDs are added onto the transaction chain and communicated to other Bitcoin servers.


So couldn't someone seize the transaction servers and simply transfer them to the FBI?
 
2013-10-07 04:25:47 PM  
Bitcoins are not something you just dump into the back of a big Brink's truck.  They go in a series of tubes.
 
2013-10-07 04:28:39 PM  

netweavr: Marcus Aurelius: Fubini: For those of us who are uninitiated to Bitcoins: what prevents someone from copying Bitcoin files and doubling their money? I know that there are protections in place that prevent this, but I have no idea what the mechanism is.

The mechanism is a very difficult mathematical formula that verifies a string of Bitcoin transactions.  You can make as many copies of your bitcoins as you like.  The moment those bitcoins hit a bitcoin server, however, they're "spent"; their IDs are added onto the transaction chain and communicated to other Bitcoin servers.

So couldn't someone seize the transaction servers and simply transfer them to the FBI?


Theoretically, but there are masses of servers, and most of them are outside the FBI's jurisdiction.
 
2013-10-07 04:28:41 PM  

shifty lookin bleeder: Bitcoins are not something you just dump into the back of a big Brink's truck.  They go in a series of tubes.


thumbs2.ebaystatic.com

I thought you weren't supposed to put coins in the tubes.
 
2013-10-07 04:44:00 PM  

Fubini: I assume that this is somehow robust against timing-based attacks? I.e. if I submit a purchase to server A and server B which are both geographically distant then there is no small time window in which I can submit fraudulent purchase orders even though the money is already spent?


In my extremely limited understanding of Bitcoins, there are multiple servers involved with the processing of each transaction, along with time stamps.  When you "spend" a bitcoin, any number of servers will have a race to see who can build the longest transaction chain involving those unique transactions.  Since the vast majority of servers are valid Bitcoin servers, the valid servers will generate the longest "chain", and include in that chain the coins that were "spent".  This "spends" the coins just once, since only one transaction chain can be the longest.
 
2013-10-07 05:18:21 PM  

Marcus Aurelius: Fubini: I assume that this is somehow robust against timing-based attacks? I.e. if I submit a purchase to server A and server B which are both geographically distant then there is no small time window in which I can submit fraudulent purchase orders even though the money is already spent?

In my extremely limited understanding of Bitcoins, there are multiple servers involved with the processing of each transaction, along with time stamps.  When you "spend" a bitcoin, any number of servers will have a race to see who can build the longest transaction chain involving those unique transactions.  Since the vast majority of servers are valid Bitcoin servers, the valid servers will generate the longest "chain", and include in that chain the coins that were "spent".  This "spends" the coins just once, since only one transaction chain can be the longest.


... but, the other guy who did a transaction with the buyer for the same coin gets screwed. Yes, Bitcoin has a latency period of a few minutes to a few hours before the seller in a transaction knows that he got a "valid' coin. So far, that's been mostly fine, as few sellers are engaging in time-critical transactions. But it's yet another way in which Bitcoin isn't a viable substitute for money in all situations.
 
2013-10-07 05:26:23 PM  
they should destroy the wallet... the money isnt theirs. If I'm correct Court case is going to be "People" vs. Silkroad... that money should be given back to the public ... just sayin
 
2013-10-07 05:30:52 PM  
Remembermolliemorrissette.files.wordpress.com
 
2013-10-07 05:39:27 PM  

ToastTheRabbit: they should destroy the wallet... the money isnt theirs. If I'm correct Court case is going to be "People" vs. Silkroad... that money should be given back to the public ... just sayin


But destroying them doesn't give them back to the public. Much like burning a stack of $100s in a fireplace doesn't give it to the people.
 
2013-10-07 05:50:48 PM  

Marcus Aurelius: netweavr: Marcus Aurelius: Fubini: For those of us who are uninitiated to Bitcoins: what prevents someone from copying Bitcoin files and doubling their money? I know that there are protections in place that prevent this, but I have no idea what the mechanism is.

The mechanism is a very difficult mathematical formula that verifies a string of Bitcoin transactions.  You can make as many copies of your bitcoins as you like.  The moment those bitcoins hit a bitcoin server, however, they're "spent"; their IDs are added onto the transaction chain and communicated to other Bitcoin servers.

So couldn't someone seize the transaction servers and simply transfer them to the FBI?

Theoretically, but there are masses of servers, and most of them are outside the FBI's jurisdiction.


Theoretically you're correct. In practice though the US government not having jurisdiction in foreign countries doesn't seem to impede them much...
 
2013-10-07 05:51:35 PM  

MadMattressMack: ToastTheRabbit: they should destroy the wallet... the money isnt theirs. If I'm correct Court case is going to be "People" vs. Silkroad... that money should be given back to the public ... just sayin

But destroying them doesn't give them back to the public. Much like burning a stack of $100s in a fireplace doesn't give it to the people.


Actually, it does. Removing the token that entitles someone to a specific amount of goods or services means everybody else with such a token now has a greater proportional share of those goods or services.
 
2013-10-07 05:53:32 PM  
I used a 3d printer to print out my bitcoins....
 
2013-10-07 06:06:55 PM  
I might be missing something but couldn't the FBI simply get a court order to force the guy cough up the code needed to access the wallet?

The guy could refuse to comply of course but he would be held in contempt of court and face lock up for an indefinite period  until he complied.

Destroying the Wallet file is a viable option I suppose, one has to wonder if he has a back up copy of it someplace, assuming the wallet file can be copied.
 
2013-10-07 06:11:15 PM  
You can make as many backups of the files you want. It is pretty much encouraged to back them up. I am sure he has several back up files located all around.
 
2013-10-07 06:14:25 PM  

grimlock1972: I might be missing something but couldn't the FBI simply get a court order to force the guy cough up the code needed to access the wallet?

The guy could refuse to comply of course but he would be held in contempt of court and face lock up for an indefinite period  until he complied.

Destroying the Wallet file is a viable option I suppose, one has to wonder if he has a back up copy of it someplace, assuming the wallet file can be copied.


"I forgot" should work for him.  Not sure how long a judge could keep him for that.
 
2013-10-07 06:17:19 PM  

MadMattressMack: ToastTheRabbit: they should destroy the wallet... the money isnt theirs. If I'm correct Court case is going to be "People" vs. Silkroad... that money should be given back to the public ... just sayin

But destroying them doesn't give them back to the public. Much like burning a stack of $100s in a fireplace doesn't give it to the people.


With a straight face.... can you honestly say "my government has honest intentions and will return this to the public without pocketing it for their off the books budget funding more NSA programs"
 
2013-10-07 06:18:49 PM  
The idea of bitcoins is neat but the whole backend of managing, mining, and getting bitcoins is an asshole of a process. Anyone with an actual job and priorities in life has no time to deal with that shiat.
 
2013-10-07 06:28:45 PM  

Cyclonic Cooking Action: grimlock1972: I might be missing something but couldn't the FBI simply get a court order to force the guy cough up the code needed to access the wallet?

The guy could refuse to comply of course but he would be held in contempt of court and face lock up for an indefinite period  until he complied.

Destroying the Wallet file is a viable option I suppose, one has to wonder if he has a back up copy of it someplace, assuming the wallet file can be copied.

"I forgot" should work for him.  Not sure how long a judge could keep him for that.


Assuming a judge would buy that weakness in the first place, its a little too convenient given how much money is at stake given the current value of said bit coins.

That said i am not up on the legal issues in regards to claiming to forgotten the access info when you been ordered by the court to turn it over,

I do realize its nearly impossible to prove the defendant is lying with out risking violating his civil rights.
 
2013-10-07 06:28:55 PM  
ITT: A bunch of people who don't know how bitcoin works

There are no "servers". It is a bunch of miners constructing a new log in the ledger (blockchain) and the first one to do so with a public key that is below a certain number (defined by the difficulty) gets to write it to the ledger and also add 25 BTC to his wallet address in that log (as well as transaction fees).
 
2013-10-07 06:33:34 PM  

mongbiohazard: Marcus Aurelius: netweavr: Marcus Aurelius: Fubini: For those of us who are uninitiated to Bitcoins: what prevents someone from copying Bitcoin files and doubling their money? I know that there are protections in place that prevent this, but I have no idea what the mechanism is.

The mechanism is a very difficult mathematical formula that verifies a string of Bitcoin transactions.  You can make as many copies of your bitcoins as you like.  The moment those bitcoins hit a bitcoin server, however, they're "spent"; their IDs are added onto the transaction chain and communicated to other Bitcoin servers.

So couldn't someone seize the transaction servers and simply transfer them to the FBI?

Theoretically, but there are masses of servers, and most of them are outside the FBI's jurisdiction.

Theoretically you're correct. In practice though the US government not having jurisdiction in foreign countries doesn't seem to impede them much...


Anyone that is mining Bitcoins is helping verify. There are many many Bitcoin miners around the world.
 
2013-10-07 06:36:59 PM  

Uzzah: MadMattressMack: ToastTheRabbit: they should destroy the wallet... the money isnt theirs. If I'm correct Court case is going to be "People" vs. Silkroad... that money should be given back to the public ... just sayin

But destroying them doesn't give them back to the public. Much like burning a stack of $100s in a fireplace doesn't give it to the people.

Actually, it does. Removing the token that entitles someone to a specific amount of goods or services means everybody else with such a token now has a greater proportional share of those goods or services.


Actually, if the government can seize and destroy bitcoins, and makes a habit of it, that reduces the value of the currency, due to that risk.  The same is true of any other currency.
 
2013-10-07 06:41:42 PM  
I could be wrong, but having possession of a bitcoin wallet with no password, doesn't mean the possessor controls the currency therein, assuming another copy exists.  Someone with more knowledge could verify.
 
2013-10-07 06:49:17 PM  

kahnzo: I could be wrong, but having possession of a bitcoin wallet with no password, doesn't mean the possessor controls the currency therein, assuming another copy exists.  Someone with more knowledge could verify.


That is correct.

It's like they found a portal to a room filled with money. The portal is locked, and they don't have the key. However, there could be portals anywhere else in the world if the owner of the room made them.... if someone else finds another portal first, and has the key, the money can be taken.

That's why the analogy in the article, comparing to a safe (and saying this will prevent the coins from being spent) is actually totally inaccurate.
 
2013-10-07 06:54:51 PM  

styckx: The idea of bitcoins is neat but the whole backend of managing, mining, and getting bitcoins is an asshole of a process. Anyone with an actual job and priorities in life has no time to deal with that shiat.



Well you pro wrestling lovers arent exactly known for your intelligence arent you? While you sat around and pound your keyboard, a bunch of stoned high school kids adopted it easier than thumb wrestling and play drug mail order on the internet all day.

It isnt rocket science by any means. It involves downloading a very small IP routing program and understanding a pretty simple cash to coin system. Silk Road is gone but Black Market Reloaded is thriving more than ever (which is even raunchier/more illegal than Silk Road) and a new place called Sheep Market or something is trying to take hold.

Cops arent ever getting a hold of that password, unless they can prevent Ulbricht from opening it ever again, its still his for all intents and purposes. Good for him. Id much rather that 60$m go down as a martyr for net freedom than tucked into some crooked piggies accounts.
 
2013-10-07 07:01:16 PM  

styckx: The idea of bitcoins is neat but the whole backend of managing, mining, and getting bitcoins is an asshole of a process. Anyone with an actual job and priorities in life has no time to deal with that shiat.


Why do you think libertarians love them so much?
 
2013-10-07 07:05:39 PM  
I assume that this is somehow robust against timing-based attacks? I.e. if I submit a purchase to server A and server B which are both geographically distant then there is no small time window in which I can submit fraudulent purchase orders even though the money is already spent?


Peter Gibbons: Well, how does it work?
Michael Bolton: It's pretty brilliant. What it does is every time there's a bank transaction where interest is computed, you know, thousands a day, the computer ends up with these fractions of a cent, which it usually rounds off. What this does is it takes those remainders and puts it into an account.
Peter Gibbons: This sounds familiar.
Michael Bolton: Yeah. They did it in Superman III.
Peter Gibbons: Right
 
2013-10-07 07:27:26 PM  

serial_crusher: Sounds like some lead pipe cryptanalysis is in order.


imgs.xkcd.com
 
2013-10-07 07:38:39 PM  
They have got a good grip on beating up elves and stealing their magical potions and Ju-ju bags, though, so you should continue to sleep soundly, America.
 
ZAZ [TotalFark]
2013-10-07 07:40:04 PM  
The Bureau is in a position equivalent to having seized a safe belonging to a suspect with no idea of the combination - and no hope of forcing it open any other way.

The NSA and DOE can mine a few billion dollars worth in the time it would take the FBI to get approval to start waterboarding.
 
2013-10-07 07:41:12 PM  
They probably just don't know how to spend them.
 
2013-10-07 07:51:33 PM  
Wait a tic... blimey, this redistribution of wealth is trickier than I thought.
 
2013-10-07 08:00:38 PM  

Marcus Aurelius: pizen: dittybopper: Actually, they seized them just fine.  They control them.  They just can't open them up.

It's like they have custody of a safe they can't open:  The owner can't access what is inside the safe, but the FBI can't see what's inside.

An impasse, if you would.

I'm not up on the technical details of Bitcoin, but isn't it more that they have a copy of a safe and if there were to exist any other copies they don't control those could still be accessed?

True.  It's whoever gets there first with the password.  Which would be incredibly amusing in this case.


I've been assuming that he has one or more backups of the wallet somewhere. If I had $80 million in one, I sure would.
 
2013-10-07 08:03:25 PM  

grimlock1972: I might be missing something but couldn't the FBI simply get a court order to force the guy cough up the code needed to access the wallet?

The guy could refuse to comply of course but he would be held in contempt of court and face lock up for an indefinite period  until he complied.


IIRC, courts have ruled that unlike being forced to give up a physical object like a key or a letter, people can't be forced to disclose something that exists solely in their minds like a password.
 
2013-10-07 08:07:20 PM  

jjorsett: grimlock1972: I might be missing something but couldn't the FBI simply get a court order to force the guy cough up the code needed to access the wallet?

The guy could refuse to comply of course but he would be held in contempt of court and face lock up for an indefinite period  until he complied.

IIRC, courts have ruled that unlike being forced to give up a physical object like a key or a letter, people can't be forced to disclose something that exists solely in their minds like a password.


There's some cases involving encrypted hard drives and your fifth amendment rights.
 
2013-10-07 08:07:56 PM  
He probably wrote down the password somewhere. Check his desk-area for Post Its.
 
2013-10-07 08:27:49 PM  

shifty lookin bleeder: Bitcoins are not something you just dump into the back of a big Brink's truck.  They go in a series of tubes.


Proving once again that that particular metaphor isn't nearly as stupid as many people seem to think.
 
2013-10-07 08:41:48 PM  
I'm as dumb as the next guy with these things, but does the bit coin wallets implement something like TrueCrypt hidden volumes?  One password for the 80M bit coins and another for the 867 bit coins he's squirreled away there?
 
2013-10-07 08:44:32 PM  
I am really dumb, so I will talk slowly.

Lets say that Ross had a childhood buddy growing up, but they haven't talked in 40 years.  He set up an email account with a deadman switch (if he doesn't log in every x days it automatically sends an email) that will email a copy of his wallet, the password, and a brief explanation of wtf was going on.

Could the buddy extract the money from the wallet without the FBI knowing that the money was gone?
 
2013-10-07 08:47:03 PM  

SpdrJay: I used a 3d printer to print out my bitcoins....


I pay for dinner, but don't tip, with my bitcoins.
 
2013-10-07 08:47:06 PM  

ToastTheRabbit: they should destroy the wallet... the money isnt theirs. If I'm correct Court case is going to be "People" vs. Silkroad... that money should be given back to the public ... just sayin


...get Waggs to explain it to you, he ought to have a basic understanding of how it works.
 
2013-10-07 09:07:58 PM  
I think that some people are in for a rude awakening when they stop glossing over the term 'decentralized'  and finally realize that it does have a real meaning. And while you couldn't expect to do very much with a 'typical' computer in the way of mining, potentially ANY computer on the internet can be part of the system.

/what they have is less like a safe and more like an ender chest
 
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