Talk @ UL: Deanonymisation of Clients in Bitcoin P2P Network

On Monday 27-October at 10:30 in E112 (campus Kirchberg) Ivan Pustogarov will give a talk on:

Bitcoin is a digital currency which relies on a distributed set of miners
to mint coins and on a peer-to-peer network to broadcast transactions. The
identities of Bitcoin users are hidden behind pseudonyms (public keys)
which are recommended to be changed frequently in order to increase
transaction unlinkability.

We present an efficient method to deanonymize Bitcoin users, which allows
to link user pseudonyms to the IP addresses where the transactions are
generated. Our techniques work for the most common and the most
challenging scenario when users are behind NATs or firewalls of their ISPs.
They allow to link transactions of a user behind a NAT and to distinguish
connections and transactions of different users behind the same NAT. We
also show that a natural countermeasure of using Tor or other anonymity
services can be cut-off by abusing anti-DoS countermeasures of the Bitcoin
network. Our attacks require only a few machines and have been
experimentally verified. The estimated success rate is between 11\% and 60\%
depending on how stealthy the attacker wants to be. We propose several
countermeasures to mitigate these new attacks.

Joint work with Alex Biryukov and Dmitry Khovratovich, to be presented at ACM Conference on Computer and Communications Security (CCS) in November this year.

Presentation at Stanford

For those who happen to be in the area I will be presenting a talk on “Gamifying the Daily Commute” at the Precourt Energy Efficiency Centre (PEEC) at Stanford University on the 14th of November at 2.30pm.  My thanks to the staff at PEEC for inviting me to present at their regular departmental seminar. The event is open to all those with an interest in the topic, so please check out their website if you would like to come along.

The seminar is part of a series of their 2014 Sustainable Transportation Seminars.

NordiCHI 2014

I will be attending NordiCHI 2014 in Helsinki this year along with colleagues from the UK and here in Luxembourg to present  work. First up will be work undertaken by Saeed Afshari an MSc student here at The University of Luxembourg who has been exploring different interaction paradigms (including using a magnetic device) across different mobile game genres.  Saeed is supervised by Andrei Popleteev, Thomas Engel and myself and I am delighted to say we believe that he is the first MSc student to travel to a conference with an accepted publication in our research group (perhaps even the whole centre). I am also involved in paper which explores auditory aspects of autonomous vehicles, this work is being undertaken by David Beattie who is a PhD student at Glasgow Caledonian University. I am one of his co-supervisors. Pre-prints of the papers will be available shortly both here and via my official university publications page.


Spotify Connect, Raumfeld and Luxembourg

After a discussion  some months ago with Teufel who make the Raumfeld streaming systems they have finally made all devices in this range Spotify compatible. What’s more it even works in Luxembourg. This was previously a problem with other services which were on their Connector 2 such as WIMP, Napster and Simfy which while available on other devices remained inaccesible in Luxembourg. Annoyingly, many of the streaming providers only licence their platforms to the hardware vendors on a per territory basis. Sadly though Qobuz which provides CD quality streaming as I believe WIMP does too is still not available in Luxembourg on Raumfeld devices- although there is a rather inconvenient way round this.


Scotland: Will it get Nasty after Independence?

With Scotland edging towards independence and the far right parties gaining in popularity in England, what would any independence settlement look like? The answer is we hope it will be peaceful but in reality we don’t know. Britain’s Marine Le Pen, Nigel Farage for one (a man with a disproportionate level of influence in UK politics) has already indicated he wants a very tough settlement. The sad thing is post 2015 when David Cameron will most likely be forced into some for of coalition (if he is not kicked out by his own party) Scotland will face a tough settlement and if UKIP holds the balance of power (along with some more insane Conservatives) it will get very nasty. Short of switching off the gas and oil supplies Scotland has almost almost no bargaining power. I only hope that if the vote does become a “Yes”  that Mr Salmond and his friends have a few tricks up their sleeves.



The Lack of English Identity and The End of the United Kingdom

 “England does not have an identity”

Berty Wooster aka Boris Johnson probably the next UK PM (Image: Wikipedia)

While the referendum is taking place in Scotland it is worth remembering that this vote is as much about leaving the London-centric UK as it is about leaving the UK itself. Perhaps more importantly though it is about identity fused with a right to determine the future and a sense of responsibility. Indeed if you look across the UK there is little that unites say Newcastle with London, or indeed with much of the South East except perhaps a common language and the same TV channels.  If Scotland receives more autonomy or even Independence then the North of England and perhaps some other regions will start demanding some more powers for themselves.




Many regions across the UK have their own identity, which are as much at odds with the rather bland concept of “Britishness” (or even “Englishness”) as they are with Scotland’s increasingly divergent values relative to the rest of the UK.  Wales for example already has its own (rather weak) assembly and Northern Ireland has a long and bloody history of unionism vs nationalism; something none of us want to see again. Moreover, unlike Scotland, Wales as managed to retain it’s own language much more successfully. However, regardless of whether you like Wales or despise what happened in Northern Ireland each of these “regions” (for now) has a certain feeling and identity. In essence for better or worse something that makes each of them not just British but unique.

Nigel Farage Leader of UKIP. (Image: Wikipedia)

I had a chat with an English friend recently and of course the subject of Scottish Independence came up; as did the often thorny subject of national identity. While Scotland has a somewhat stereotyped identity in the eyes of others; it does have a certain unique feeling (something which many visitors have subsequently told me – and this is when they were visiting without me). In essence politically, socially and not just Tartan-wise there is a feeling of difference. However, as my friend from England said, “England does not have an identity”, I felt this was somewhat negative and perhaps too honest. If you travel around England you do feel strong regional identities but what is the overall English identity?

English vs British Identity?

Morris Dancing (Image: Wikipedia)

Her statement got me thinking what exactly differentiates English from British Identity? As she said the two are so linked it is really difficult to think of what the differences are. I have heard the term “fair play” used many times but that seems to me to be more of a British trait rather than perhaps a purely English one. Also the days of conquering or unifying parts of the same island (or distant lands) are over and I am sure if that was the identity being advocated as “being English” it would rightfully be shot down as irrelevant now and unfair. Ok, there is always Morris Dancing, but that is like saying Scotland is just a place full of bagpipes. So in essence the three rather stereo-typed views are either British or unfair.

The Problem of Lack of Identity

In my view it is this lack of identity which I think is further causing problems for the concept of Britishness and indeed Englishness which has left a rather large black hole at the heart of the Union. Worse still though, it is this  black hole that is increasingly resulting in the rise of right-wing Conservatives or worse still the detestable and “formerly” BNP friendly UKIP. I suspect this rise in popularity has driven many people to support independence in Scotland. Indeed the identity put forward by the flag waving right-wing Conservative and UKIP supporters seems to be one defined by an increasing fear of foreigners, the EU and change – which is somewhat at odds with my own experience of people from England and the time I spent living there. Therefore, as the likes of Farage, Berty Wooster (Boris Johnson) and their other chums get increased air time it only serves to remind Scotland of exactly what it does not want to be! 

The Past or the Future?

So as Scotland seeks an identity of progress and moving forward (even if it is based on a historical border), sadly the English identity being defined by our politicians seems to be one of the remnants of Britain fused with Eton/The Bullingdon Club, the Famous Five novels (with plenty of nice biscuits, lemonade and suitably fashionable braces) and worryingly a fear of the future. Something I am sure many people in England do not want, agree with or even see as their world view. It is also the difference in the two visions of our shared island which is increasingly driving people (perhaps heart rules over head) to now narrowly support Scottish Independence. This may sound silly but as far as I can see incoming Wooster-Farage administration is increasingly defining an identity for Britain which is largely carved out of some perverted view of English identity. Something I am sure most people across the British Isles would rather avoid and people in Scotland live in fear of.

Come on England you deserve better than letting the likes of Farage and Wooster define your identity!

The author is a major fan of England, in particular beers from the Midlands and the Stunning Scenery and Excellent Pubs in the South West!

I-GEAR Game Study To Take Place Soon

After months of development and some considerable challenges we now have the first  I-GEAR game ready for use after Apple finally approved it. For those not familiar with I-GEAR it is an FNR funded project which consists of two main parts, firstly an exploration of how to use gamification to reduce traffic congestion and related to this user interfaces for use in cars.

For this first game use will initially be restricted to certain groups of staff at the University of Luxembourg but we hope to make a public version of a more advanced game available later.

As ever credit where credit is due and I thank the other IGEAR project members in particular those who slaved away on the development of this game: Sasan, Hossein, Tigran and Tomas.

Tiree Tech Wave

Being from Scotland although not from quite as far North (which makes it probably a whole lot less windy) the following event appears to my sense of IT adventures in the wild… Alan Dix is to say the least well known the human-computer interaction community so I am sure his blend of fun and knowledge (along with the able assistance of his fellow conspirators) will make the event well worth going to.

Eighth Tiree Tech Wave (TTW-8)
23-27 October 2014, Isle of Tiree, Scotland, UK

A hands-on making and meeting event exploring the edges of technology on the wild edge of Scotland


Following seven previous Tech Waves, we will be meeting again in October 2014.

The Atlantic fringe was the haven of scholarship through the Dark Ages and is the haunt of wind-surfers today. The Tech Wave tries to capture a little of the spirit of each; from mashups to breadboards, Arduino to RDF, we will consider the social and philosophical challenges of technology by engaging directly with it. Come to take time to explore ideas that keep being put on the backburner, to be stimulated by others, or simply to be intellectually refreshed.

New faces and old are all welcome.

As always there is no fixed agenda, the issues and activities depend on you! This time there will be some new toys to play with as well as the normal mix of making and talking …

Tiree Tech Wave offers a time to step out, albeit momentarily, from a target-driven world, to experiment and play with hardware and software, to discuss the issues of our new digital maker culture, what we know and what we seek to understand, and above all to make things together.

This is all about technology and people: the physical device that sits in our hands, the mashup that tells us about local crime, the new challenges to personal privacy and society and the nation state.

Anything can happen at a Tech Wave.

Registration open at

Early bird rate till 22 September 2014.

Tech Wave starts 23 October 2014.

For more information contact

or visit

Twitter: @tireetechwave
Facebook:  TTW8 event  —  general TTW page