The Ultimate Bitcoin Privacy Guide
This is the ultimate guide to Bitcoin Privacy.
Learn how to buy bitcoins anonymously and securely!
How to spend it without worrying, and more!
Of course, we’ll show you how to buy the best VPN anonymously, however, the same process can be used to anonymously purchase pretty much any product that accepts Bitcoins. Do note, however, that physical products need to be delivered to a physical address and/or be collected in person.
This is an updated version of a guide I originally published on this website back in 2013. Since then, many things have changed. The value of Bitcoin has shot through the roof, well-known trading websites such as Mt. Gox have closed down, and much more. In some places, you can now even buy Bitcoins from ATM machines!
What Is Bitcoin?
Like traditional money, you can trade Bitcoin for goods or services (such as a VPN subscription) and exchange it for other currencies. Unlike traditional currencies, however, there is no “middleman,” such as a state-controlled bank.
Bitcoins are instead generated using a free computer program, at a predictable rate determined by the amount of processing power dedicated to their generation. This process is known as Bitcoin mining. In theory, anyone can do it.
A Bitcoin is not a physical thing; it is a cryptographic algorithm consisting of a public key and private key. Some vendors do sell physical notes and coins denominated in Bitcoin, but what they are really selling is a private key (usually protected by a seal which you must break) together with a public key that you can use to verify the balance.
In practice, Bitcoin mining requires a large amount of processing power – so much so that mining is impractical for most individuals. However, it is possible to join a Bitcoin mining pool (or similar organization) to help spread the costs (and rewards). The prohibitive cost of Bitcoin mining is in part responsible for the current craze for mining alternative cryptocurrencies such as Ethereum, which has a much lower entry point than mining for Bitcoins.
Bitcoin mining is not the focus of this article, but if you are interested in the subject then there is an excellent article here. You may also be interested in our .
Since the release of Bitcoin in 2009, numerous other virtual cryptocurrencies have been developed. Many of these have features that offer distinct advantages over Bitcoin (including being more anonymous). None of these alternatives, however, have achieved anything near the popularity of Bitcoin. This limits their real-world usefulness when you want to buy things.
Bitcoin And Anonymity
There are two sides to the Bitcoin when it comes to anonymity. The first thing to stress is that Bitcoin is not inherently anonymous. However, it can be made so (at least to a high degree). Please always bear in mind that 100% anonymity can never be guaranteed.
Central to the concept of Bitcoin is the . This is basically a public ledger that records Bitcoin transactions. Transactions in the form payer X sends Y bitcoins to payee Z are broadcast to the Bitcoin network for all the world to see. Thus, from this perspective, Bitcoin is much less anonymous than, say, good old cash. As Sergio Lerner, CEO of Argentinian company Certimix, notes,
It is possible to purchase Bitcoins and hold a Bitcoin address without revealing your true identity. This only provides a form of pseudonymity, though. Interested parties can use advanced data analysis techniques to look for patterns to de-anonymize users. Such wide-scale and sophisticated data analysis is Google and Facebook’s entire business model.
However… You can use Bitcoin mixing techniques to further confuse who did what with Bitcoins. By randomly switching the ownership of Bitcoins, such techniques make de-anonymization via data analysis very hard to achieve. If you purchase and hold them without revealing your identity, and then properly mix them, Bitcoins canafford a high level of anonymity when performing transactions.
I discuss ways to mix Bitcoins later in this guide. To more fully understand how Bitcoin and the blockchain works, The ultimate, 3500-word, plain English guide to blockchain by Mohit Mamoria is a fantastic introduction, as is our own Blockchain Explained guide.
The Bitcoin Cash Hard Fork
Because nothing is ever easy, on 1 August 2017 Bitcoin split into two derivative currencies: Bitcoin Classic (BTC or XBT) and Bitcoin Cash (BCH or BCC). This split is known as the Bitcoin Cash hard fork and the reasons are highly technical.
Bitcoin Classic Vs. Bitcoin Cash
If you had any Bitcoin in your wallet and have possession of the private keys, then you are now also entitled to claim an equal number of Bitcoin Cash coins. Thus, if on 1 August 2017 you had a wallet with one Bitcoin in it, you still have that Bitcoin and can nw also claim one Bitcoin Cash coin (BCH).
If you are just starting with Bitcoins, then you’ll need to decide between purchasing Bitcoin Classic or Bitcoin Cash. Some points to bear in mind are:
- Bitcoin Classic is much better established and far more vendors accept it as a form of payment.
- Most Bitcoin wallets and many exchanges don’t accept Bitcoin Cash.
- However, Bitcoin Cash allows for more transactions per second. This translates to faster payments and lower fees.
- 1,500 more blocks were mined on the Bitcoin Cash chain than on the original one.
- The market price for Bitcoin Cash has fluctuated wildly over the last month, but in general it has seen steady growth.
As already noted, this article was written just one month after the hard fork. It will be interesting to see how the situation develops. For the purpose of this article, I will assume regular Bitcoin Classic is used. However, while there may be big differences between the currencies from an investment viewpoint (on which I am not qualified to comment), there is almost no difference in the front-end of how they are used. Indeed, they are based on the same code. As such, you can expect to see more Bitcoin Cash versions of existing Bitcoin software going forward, as tweaking code for the new currency is almost trivially easy.
You can read the full article on BestVPN.com.