Mimblewimble- Price(s) we pay for privacy.

Mimblewimble blockchains offer improved blockchain transaction privacy

Get an envelope, put a seal on it…maybe we can just get a bag and enclose it in zips; we’ve always struggled with keeping things as secret as desired. Privacy keeps climbing the scales in the hierarchy of needs, it still remains a social need however more important than you’ll ever imagine it to be. The fact that McAfee ate his words (on bitcoin price) instead of his D…but still upholds his views about the need for strong privacy in cryptocurrency transaction reiterates the importance of privacy, at least he won’t get to eat his words again this time. I’m convinced he still HODLs a good amount of Monero (XMR), maybe he bought some Deeponions or possibly dumped his bags for his privacy coin Ghost; whichever way he still remains a fan of privacy…just like each one of us.

From bitcoin’s boring lengthy addresses to monero’s Ring signature protocol and the deep send protocol from Deeponion not to forget PIVX’s zerocoin protocol and NIX’s ghost protocol, the correlation between privacy and security have made both terms more precious. Blockchain projects have been on a long search for a perfect way to satisfy both terms with just one move. Way before I got to fully understand how Deeponions works, I already kind of feel in love…I love my onions, as long as they don’t make me cry-lol.

Introducing these clever algorithms, these cryptocurrency projects have at least shown the possibilities of a secured privacy-oriented transaction using blockchains with cryptocurrencies as the store of value and a token of exchange. Monero’s ring signature allows multiple signatures for a single transaction. Several public keys from the network is used to sign a single transaction. Obscure? Just imagine several hands putting down a single signature, that’s harder to imagine, but yeah, that’s just how clever the ring signature protocol is. With several signers for one transaction it becomes harder or somewhat impossible to identify who actually performed the transaction. I mean we are many who did this, so you can’t just point any fingers at me!…

zerocoin PIV cycle Author:Turtle flax

PIVX gives you an option, stay open or stay stealth-you choose. If you choose to stay stealth (private, of course!) you can burn some of your PIVX to produce zerocoin PIVX (ZPIV).zerocoin PIVX works according to this principle of the Zerocoin protocol, the Zerocoin protocol protects the identity of the sender in a transaction. The Zerocoin protocol when used, pioneers a transaction and acts as the final executor of a transaction and appears as the source of the transferred funds. Zerocoin address is however untraceable, the sender of the fund here remains anonymous.
NIX network employs well crafted privacy elements to provide every user with just the sort of privacy option which suits their carve for privacy at any situation by enabling the user to conceal his address or the recipient’s address during the transaction; when both of these options are applied in one transaction, the NIX ghost protocol here keeps the recipient and the sender’s identity anonymous. These privacy elements are the sigma protocol, the commitment key packs and the Tor anonymity network. Deep onion’s privacy protocol also includes a Tor feature which ghosts your Internet Protocol (IP) address instead of keeping your wallet address untraceable, a different way through this. Deep onion privacy solution ‘deep send’ also includes a protocol which mixes transactions, making it hard to sort transactions and trace specific transactions.

Unfortunately, these ‘solutions’ have been found to have very tiny loopholes, but lets not talk about this right now, there’ll be a better time,maybe after McAfee fulfils his promise and eats what he should We continue on our search for that perfect cryptocurrency privacy solution.

A random wizard once fell on the cryptosphere from Harry Potter universe, and yeah he did cast a couple of spells. Most eye catching of these is the MIMBLEWIMBLE (not even sure I pronounced it right). The mimblewimble spell caster keeps you from spilling their secret by making you talk inaudibly and meaningless word just when you want to spill their secrets. Fortunately, the wizard is gone, you can breathe some air, not so soon though , he left behind some clues on how to cast this spell and a couple of clever ones learnt that…I’m not one of them, dumb me!.

Enough kidding! Mimblewimble is a term from the movie ‘Harry Potter’ which has been adopted by cryptocurrency developers to describe a relatively new privacy protocol/concept. Due to how this corresponds with privacy, I’d say it’s a creative way to start, but nonetheless, weird. Very weird, like what if the wizards at Harry Potter universe gets to hear we are copying them?. These brainy cryptographers will surely pay the damages.

Beam privacy coin was the first to officially employ the mimblewimble protocol despite Grin coin being the first to tease the development of a coin which employs the mimblewimble protocol to improve privacy and safety of transactions. Beam and Grin remains the two most popular projects using this protocol to offer privacy. Maybe Craig Wright should consider employing this to finally achieve the satoshi vison and/or prove he is Satoshi Nakamoto (the letter M is silent here), whatever he decides to do, we’ll be here to applaud.

keep grinning! Source

Privacy coins utilize several different walk-arounds to make transactions secure and as private as possible, some of these we have described way back in the beginning. For mimblewimble a different approach is used. Mimblewimble gets its privacy by gathering huge amount of transactions into a single incomprehensive package. The bulky and unarranged stacks of transactions is extremely difficult to parse. A snooper will have a very hard time sorting this package to trace transactions, it is hence considered a reliable privacy solution as the eavesdropper is unable to decipher single transactions.
I guess you’re having a hard time understanding this, just imagine the mimblewimble spell from Potter’s universe. The spell mixes the words in ones thought such that by the time of speech, the speaker produces meaningless sentences and phrases such that the audience is unable to actually understand the whole report. Cryptocurrency mimblewimble protocol works in a similar fashion.

Giulia Fanti’s presentation of the Dandelion source

An additional component known as Dandelion is used by beam privacy coin and grin to ensure that this aggregation occurs before transactions are broadcast to other nodes. The dandelion is hence a major working component of the mimblewimble privacy protocol. not sure if its called dandelion on Potter’s universe, but it should exist.

Déjà vu? Deep onion’s ‘Deep send’ privacy solution also employs a similar concept-packaging and mixing large amounts of transactions to render them inscrutable. Mimblewimble mixes multiple transactions and broadcasts them as a package, monero signs a transaction with multiple keys; a good similarity between these two solutions. Cryptocurrency keeps getting better with each new solution.

Apart from offering a ‘strong’ privacy of transaction, mimblewimble offers a faster transaction and scalability. Gathering lots of transaction into a single package allows for the blockchain to have a more compact history which is easier and faster to download, verify and synchronize. Unlike the bitcoin blockchain which keeps a detailed record of every transaction, mimblewimble blockchains only keeps essential information about a transaction hence reducing the blockchain size and offering more scalability. A lighter block is easier and faster to download, hence mimblewimble are faster. Speed, scalability and privacy, match made in heaven!? tastes great-like taco bells. But…

Mimblewimble technology have been found to fail when using quantum computers as such computers relies on the digital signature of the transaction. Unlike monero, mimblewimble blockchin transactions are signed by the performer of the transaction only. Quantum computers will hence decipher origins of transactions in a mimblewimble blockchain. We are still some years ahead of a potent quantum computer, so the mimblewimble protocol is okay as regards this…for now (for now). But that’s not even the spoiler…

In sending a large amount of transactions at once, mimblewimble blockchains sacrifice efficiency in transaction processing. This is common in most privacy-oriented blockchains as confidential transactions tend to reduce the transaction throughput. Despite mimblewimble boasting several features which tends to speed up transactions on the blockchain and make transactions faster, it still falls short of super speed non-privacy oriented blockchains.

That brings us back to the initial question, ‘what price do we pay for privacy’. Regardless of the fact that these privacy protocols have been found to have numerous loopholes and fails to function as normal in certain instances, we still face the issue of a reduced transaction throughput and consequences of failure of these protocols. Even in real life instances the process of privacy improvement processes tend to affect not only speed but also the efficiency of such activities. At the end of the day, we are left to make a choice amidst the dilemma. You might choose privacy most times, but certainly not at all time. Where you need speed and privacy, you’re left with no choice but to battle a dilemma. It’s the price we pay for privacy. Maybe we should just hope on McAfee’s Ghost coin, it may be worth the wait…probably, just probably.



Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store