Bitcoin News

Does NSA know that you’re a Bitcoin trader?


A report published by the Intercept suggests that the USA’s National Security Agency (NSA) might have been spying on Bitcoin users from at least 2013. Internal NSA documents obtained by Edward Snowden and passed on to the adversarial publication revealed that the NSA has a covert program to establish the identity of Bitcoin users.

Using Bitcoin? The government might be spying on you.

Codenamed ‘Oakstar’, the program scours through raw data transmissions across the Internet. The NSA documents reference secret tie ups with network management corporations. This referencing enables the agency to access data carried by fibre optic cables (fibre optic cables connect servers all over the world and this network is called the international network or internet).

The program seems to be capable of identifying Bitcoin users, unique identifiers linked to them (MAC address and IP address), passwords and also their browser history. These details can be used to establish a person’s identity. This has given credence to fears that the government might be spying on crypto investors.

The documents also mention a subprogram under OAKSTAR codenamed MONEYROCKET. Though the exact nature of this tool is unclear, based on the leaked document references, it is believed that MONEYROCKET is a spyware software camouflaged as a VPN (Virtual Private Network) provider (A VPN is an anonymising tool that masks your real identity on the internet). The document lays out plans to make terrorist organisations like Al Qaeda use this spyware.

The leaked NSA documents are dated March 2013 while the report by Intercept has come out this month (March 2018). While the NSA hasn’t commented on the document leak, the Bitcoin foundation is yet to respond to the revelations. It is expected this development might unsettle the crypto community, which values privacy and anonymity as integral features that differentiate cryptocurrencies from fiat money.

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