Tracking Bitcoins in Criminal Operations

Danny Y. Huang


Bitcoin enables peer-to-peer payments in a way that is partially anonymous and which requires no central authorities. These features are attractive to many criminals, as it is difficult to track and shut down Bitcoin payments - difficult, but not impossible. In this talk, I present novel approaches to trace the flow of bitcoins in two types of criminal operations: (i) botnets that monetized CPU cycles through mining [NDSS '14]; and (ii) ransomware, which encrypts files and demands bitcoins in exchange for decryption keys [IEEE S&P '18]. In tracking bitcoin flows, I show how to estimate the revenue of criminal operations and measure the impact on victims.


Danny Y. Huang is currently a postdoc at Princeton's Center for Information Technology Policy, working with Nick Feamster and Arvind Narayanan. He is broadly interested in the economics of security/privacy issues. He recently obtained his PhD in Computer Science from UC San Diego. For details, see

Time and Place

Thursday, April 5, 4:15pm
Gates 415