Linking Addresses to Identities

Published by Mario Oettler on

In this topic, we learn how a certain address (cluster) can be linked to a real-world identity.

Exchanges and Shops

Users who buy or sell coins on an exchange usually have to undergo a KYC (know your customer) process. With this information, the exchange can link the person to the sending or receiving address.

With shops it is similar. If the user orders something, he needs to provide a postal address that can be linked to the payment address.

Also, centralized mixing services (also called tumblers) might have information about the user’s identity. When accessing their website, they can record the IP address and browser properties and might collect other data.


If you use wallets that are either a browser extension like MetaMask or Wallets that have built-in browsers, websites can request the accounts managed by the wallet. Usually, those wallets ask users to agree on revealing the accounts. But once you have done that, the website can link data from the browser, input fields, cookies, etc., with the account. This can reveal the identity or parts of the user’s identity.

Fake Nodes

Another way to identify the source device of a transaction is to connect to many wallets or nodes in the network. If such a client is connected directly to a wallet, it can link the IP address to the transaction. But also, with a step in between, the area or even the name of the wallet can be narrowed down.