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­sing Bitcoin to Prevent Identify Theft

By MIT News

May 24, 2017

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Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have developed a system that uses bitcoin's security mechanisms to foil online identify thieves.

Unlike earlier systems that use such protocols to prevent equivocation while requiring a full blockchain download for verification, MIT's Catena system requires a much smaller amount of data, which enables it to operate on a smartphone.

MIT professor Srini Devadas and graduate student Alin Tomescu say Catenas adds the requirement that each bitcoin transaction logging a public assertion must entail an actual bitcoin transfer. Users may transfer the bitcoin to themselves, but that obviates the possibility of transferring the bitcoin to any other party in the same block of the blockchain, which means it also precludes equivocation within the block.

"If you can eliminate the possibility of equivocation, it becomes easier to secure many algorithms," says Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne professor Bryan Ford.

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