While the transaction malleability bug, DDoS attacks and massive problems at Mt.Gox have snagged many headlines this week, another mystery has been on the minds of Bitcoin experts: What’s with the flood of 1 Satoshi (0.00000001BTC) transactions being sent to random wallets?
Bryan Chaffin at The Mac Observer takes a look at the situation, and presents some thoughts about what could be going on.
The transactions are being sent from vanity Bitcoin addresses beginning with “1Enjoy” and “1Sochi,” and theories behind the transactions range from it being a new kind of spam, to an attempt to bloat the blockchain, to an effort to attack Bitcoin addresses to people, to it merely being a test.”
Chaffin notes that 1 Satoshi deposit (or $0.0000066211) falls well below the threshold used by most of the block chain, and that almost none of these transactions will be confirmed. What’s behind these millions of failed transactions?
Is it simply SPAM?
The first theory is that these transactions are intended as spam. This goes back to some of the earliest reports, where the Bitcoin address used to send the satoshi traced back to one gambling site or another. The thought is that the spammers are counting on some recipients being gamblers who will then follow the trail, discover a gambling site, and deposit Bitcoins on that site.”
Could it be a bloat attack?
Another theory is that this is an attempt to bloat the blockchain and slow down the network. If so, it’s a terrible idea, at least on the scale that it is being done now. The network can handle these transactions, and in fact, it largely ignores them.”
Possibly an attempt to uncover the identities of Bitcoin wallet owners?
A far more intriguing idea is that these transactions are designed to map out who owns what address. Think NSA, CIA, that hacking team run by the Chinese military, or whatever the heck the Russians are doing these days.”
Or, finally, all of this is a test for something much larger.
The theory that I like the most is that we’re seeing some kind of test from either a commercial spamming organization or one of the world’s intelligence organizations. I have no idea what exactly is being tested, but in that no other idea makes any sense, I’ll settle for this one.”
It’s well worth reading the original post for details on each of these ideas, as well as an overall assessment of the threat level underlying this mystery.