How To Mix Bitcoins: The Ultimate Guide For Cryptocurrency Wallet Users

by Sunny Hoi

What is Bitcoin Mixing/Tumbling?

Bitcoin mixing (tumbling) refers to the process whereby an individual deploys a third-party service to break the connection between a Bitcoin address that is sending coins and the address receiving such coins.

In other words, a genuine functional bitcoin tumbler will break the association between your origin and destination address by dispatching coins from you to other individuals and their coins to you.

In layman’s terms, a mixing service (tumbler) is deployed to conceal and render it challenging to prove where the bitcoins initially came from.

Utilizing Bitcoins is a superb method to remain anonymous while making purchases such as a VPN subscription, donations to a charity or individual that requires money, or peer-to-peer (P2P) payments.

Nevertheless, Bitcoin transactions are never really anonymous.

Significantly, every bitcoin transaction and activity is recorded and saved in a distributed public ledger called a blockchain which is an extensive database that retains a record of bitcoin transactions.

As soon as you mix your bitcoins, you ultimately send your funds to an anonymous service and, in the event that they have good intentions and aren’t compromised by adversaries, they will send you another person’s tainted coins.

The technology of Bitcoin has made anonymous financial transactions feasible outside of the ordinary banking institution, which for its part permitted money to be concealed in the dark web.

Tumblers can render transactions unable to be traced between customers and vendors via the possible utilization of the blockchain.

A bitcoin tumbler manipulates the blockchain by assisting in granting additional anonymity in transactions which ultimately obfuscates the route between a customer’s Bitcoin address and the vendor’s Bitcoin address.

Moreover, a cryptocurrency mixing service randomizes transaction amounts and occasionally includes time delays to the transactions.

A proper working tumbler will likely leave no connection between the initial transactions and the final address of the coins.

Is Using A Cryptocurrency Mixing Service Illegal?

Is Mixing Bitcoins Illegal?

Apart from legislation in some nations where Bitcoin is banned, there is no law that explicitly prohibits individuals from using tumblers to mix their Bitcoins. The origin of the funds is significant in terms of determining whether a law has been violated by a cryptocurrency user.

Funds sent utilizing such techniques and services cannot be perceived as illicit without specific evidence. If the utilization of such methods and the tools that render them feasible are not in themselves illicit, this does not indicate that all the funds sent using this approach derives from legitimate activities. Hence, it depends on the origin of the funds irrespective of the methods deployed to send them. In other words, the source of the funds coming from a user may be illicit, not the deployment of cryptocurrency mixing services.

Note that blackhat hackers and cybercriminals frequently employ numerous tumblers to spin addresses and render it increasingly difficult for investigators to follow the transaction’s path. Hence, the process of mixing Bitcoins has been deployed by blackhat hackers and cybercriminals to either launder real money or to anonymously buy unlawful commodities on Darknet marketplaces. Notably, such practices are evidently illicit.

A law-abiding citizen that wishes not to render a transaction publicly traceable might mix their coins for anonymity reasons. Hence, there are clear distinctions between cybercriminals and law-abiding citizens.

The entire process of mixing Bitcoins is beneficial for helping digital forensic professionals, and law enforcement investigators understand the methods and tools involved that ultimately contribute to successfully catching cybercriminals. When law enforcement agencies successfully strip the anonymity of cybercriminals, the identity of such culprits are revealed, and digital forensic examiners play a critical role in obtaining additional evidence from the suspects’ devices.

According to a study, merely 16% of the funds coming through Bitcoin tumblers come directly from illicit sources, while the rest of the 84% funds derive from legitimate activities.

Requirements

Before proceeding further in this tutorial, you will require the subsequent:

  • The latest stable release of Tor Browser to permits you to anonymously access Clearnet and Darknet. Refrain from using an outdated version of the Tor Browser. Always ensure that the browser software is up-to-date before using it to visit websites. Once you have downloaded the latest version of the Tor Browser, ensure that you verify the software’s signature to make sure it was indeed created by its developers and has not been manipulated with.
  • Bitcoins along with a wallet where you may mix the bitcoins.

If you are just using the Tor Browser, we recommend that you disable Javascript before visiting any websites. Javascript may be used by an adversary to indirectly identify your browser, identify you, or distribute drive-by downloads comprising malware.

For example, the adversary may set up a man-in-the-middle attack through a counterfeit SSL certificate. They can modify the payload of the page and inject a JavaScript that includes an AJAX call to execute an HTTP request (Phone home) to a rogue server that discloses your real IP address. Thus, Javascript may be utilized as a platform for exploiting the Tor Browser and a technique to render fingerprinting the browser easier.

Click on the onion toolbar menu in the Tor Browser toolbar, select “Security Settings“, then move the slider to the “Safest” setting which is located at the top. Click on the “OK” button to apply the changes.

Keep in mind that some tumblers and web-based wallets need Javascript to function correctly. Note that Javascript is not required for Blockchain.info wallets.

Nevertheless, mitigation to such identification attempts by adversaries via Javascript can be obtained via the use of Whonix or Qubes and Whonix. Whonix makes it more difficult for adversaries, requiring increased effort and skill to discover the cryptocurrency user’s real IP address and effectively deanonymize them.

The latter combination of Qubes and Whonix is only recommended for advanced users. To learn more about such solutions, you may visit the last section of the tutorial called “Additional Useful Tips To Remember“.

Steps To Mixing/Tumbling Bitcoins

Creating Your First Wallet

The first step is to create an ordinary market wallet on the Clearnet. Keep in mind that it is not necessary to use the Tor Browser to access your market wallet since the exchange will precisely already know who you are.

In this early part of the tutorial, you do not need to buy Bitcoins. We will mention this step later on along with the option of mining cryptocurrency if you desire a less traceable approach.

At this stage, you’ll only need an email address to begin, which we will explain the following section.

Create A Brand New Burner Email

It is absolutely necessary to create a burner email address to achieve and maintain strict operational security (OPSEC). This is an essential first step that you will need complete before proceeding to create your wallet that will link to the email address you choose to provide.

A mistake would be to utilize your own personal email address that you use for your everyday activities.

There are many services that provide free burner email addresses. Note that such services typically remove the email accounts within a couple of minutes or hours.

You will require consistent access to your accounts for two-step verification reasons for numerous hours or days. Evidently, this will depend on how long it takes for the mixing process to complete.

For demonstration purposes, we will choose to use Mailinator to create a new email address for our wallet. An advantage of Mailinator is that you can access the service anonymously since you don’t need to provide registration of any kind to deploy it. You may use another service to create your free burner email address if you wish.

Note that Mailnator email addresses are not deleted after a couple of hours, only the emails stored on the service are deleted. Bear in mind that the emails we will receive will not include sensitive account credentials. Hence, Mailinator is adequate.

Creating Your Second Wallet

Tips To Avoid Making Mistakes

Before you create a wallet on the Blockchain.info website, it is vital to understand and memorize some crucial facts to avoid having your system’s security and anonymity compromised by motivated threat actors.

Firstly, we do not recommend visiting the Blockchain.info Clearnet website URL over Tor. It’s simply not a good idea. Why? Because this can provide a potential adversary with a significant benefit as it can lead to the introduction of a feasible vulnerability such as malicious Tor exit nodes. It’s also not a good idea to access your second wallet via the Clearnet without using Tor.

In the past, there have been reports of people with Blockchain.info wallets having their Bitcoins stolen while carrying out transactions on the Tor network. The speculation was that man-in-the-middle (MITM) attackers were targeting Blockchain.info transactions running on compromised Tor exit nodes. Man-in-the-middle attacks work by hijacking communications between two systems through interception of a public key exchange, injecting their public key and rebroadcasting the message without the initial user knowing.

The common man-in-the-middle attack vector involved stripping the SSL from the site, which leads to the user landing on an HTTP page as opposed to an HTTPS page. Newer versions of the Tor Browser will show a yellow exclamation point provided that the browser is no longer showing a valid SSL certificate. Numerous casual Tor users that do not realize the known security defects connected with rogue exit nodes have been subjected to this exploit.

Tor web addresses are developed in a comparable approach to Bitcoin addresses over encryption and public keys that produce a random grouping of numbers and letters. Such heightened safeguards render it exceptionally difficult for cybercriminals to steal Bitcoins because every transaction may be carried out from within the Tor network, and no exit relays are required to access Blockchain online wallets.

Blockchain.info now deploys HTTP Strict Transport Security (HSTS) and provides a dedicated Tor onion address to its Tor users.

1. Using the Tor Browser, visit the Blockchain.info Tor onion site address. Proceed by clicking the “Sign Up” button to create your free wallet.

2. Type in your new burner email address under “Email“. Ensure that you use a password that is complex, difficult to guess, and have never been used on any of your other accounts. Check the “I have read the Terms of Service & Privacy Police” box and click “Create My Wallet“.

3. To confirm that you have logged in to your new empty wallet, observe if there is a dashboard present. You’ll see that there is currently 0 BTC ($0.00) in the wallet.

4. In your Tor Browser, open a new tab and visit the Mailinator site (Or another service that you chose). Enter the burner email address handle that you created earlier and check the inbox.

5. In your inbox, you should see a Blockchain.info account verification email for your new wallet. Verify to authorize the log-in.

6. Record your wallet ID which is different from your wallet address by either writing it down on a piece of paper or saving it in a text file on your computer with encryption for that file enabled. We recommend the latter and strongly recommend to delete the note once you are done and the Bitcoin has reached your wallet. Removing the encrypted note is essential since it is not a good idea to leave any traces of activity on your system’s hard drive. It would be a good idea to use a live operating system (OS) such as Tails that typically runs off of a USB drive or a DVD which will permit you to maintain strong OPSEC.

Bear in mind that the wallet ID and the wallet address are two individual strings.

Under no circumstances should you save and reveal passwords in plain text. This also means not to keep them in an encrypted note. We strongly recommend you to memorize your passwords or if your memory is inadequate then at a minimum deploy a password manager.

Funding Your Second Wallet

Now that you have made your second wallet, it cannot be linked to you or your devices in no way. The only exception is that you will be sending the second wallet Bitcoin from your market wallet. Note that you will not use any Bitcoin mixing service/tumbler at this point.

The reason that a second wallet even exists in the first place is to establish believable disavowal. Subsequently, you will use your market wallet to send Bitcoin to the second wallet that you just made. Moreover, you will use your second wallet to send Bitcoin to the third wallet via a third-party mixing service. This method certainly has merit since it decreases the level of distrust. It is unwise to use your market wallet to send Bitcoin directly to a mixing service as it looks fishy. If you send Bitcoin directly from your market wallet to a tumbler, you could trigger an investigation by a law enforcement agency or by the staff of the exchange where you purchased your cryptocurrency.

When you decide to send Bitcoin to the second wallet first, it will appear just like an ordinary transaction where you sent a companion or business some Bitcoins.

Buy Bitcoins For Your First Wallet (Or Mine Cryptocurrency)

1. Proceed to buy Bitcoins for your ordinary market wallet. Alternatively, you may choose to mine cryptocurrency. Bear in mind that buying cryptocurrency is typically more traceable.

2. Send the exact amount of Bitcoins you wish to mix to your market wallet.

This process should be reasonably simple for you:

1. Click the Clipboard icon which is located next to the send and receive buttons in the Blockchain.info wallet. This step will copy your wallet address to the clipboard.

2. With your market wallet, proceed to send the exact amount of Bitcoins you want to mix to your second wallet. Indubitably, to be able to perform a transfer of bitcoins successfully, you have to perceive the private key for an address and perceive the transaction ID of an unexpended transaction sending Bitcoins to that particular address.

Thus, the balance of an address represents the total of the unexpended transactions, and every transaction clearly indicates where the Bitcoins derived from.

Creating Your Third Wallet

As part of this tutorial, your third wallet will serve as the last destination for your newly mixed Bitcoins which will permit you to spend openly without any individual tracing the transactions directly back to you.

Clearly, you may continue to create additional wallets over Tor contingent on how far you wish to go with obfuscation.

To make another anonymous Bitcoin wallet using the Tor Browser, go back to the “Creating Your Second Wallet” section in the tutorial and use a different separate burner email address and password.

If you want higher anonymity and to continue to weaken the connection between you and your mixer wallet, you’ll have to make several addresses. First-rate cryptocurrency users tend to make many addresses to address their anonymity concerns. With increased anonymity and less traceability, inconvenience is a price that you ought to pay for such benefits.

Utilizing more than one address will undoubtedly disperse the new coins across the addresses with randomized quantities and delays to render blockchain analysis increasingly arduous.

Making numerous addresses in your Blockchain.info wallet is relatively straightforward:

1. Make sure you are in the dashboard of the wallet and click on “Settings” & “Addresses“.

2. You can see that the default wallet is labelled “My Bitcoin Wallet“. Click “Manage” next to your default wallet to continue.

3. To add more addresses, click “Add Next Address“. Note that mixing services may have distinct limits in terms of addresses accepted. For this tutorial, we’ll stick with three.

To gain maximum benefits, you’ll likely want to employ completely separate wallets. For the moment, we’ll solely utilize different addresses within a single wallet.

Once you log out of your second wallet, we suggest establishing the backup phrase in the “Security Center“. In the event that you lose access to your wallet, the backup phrase will permit you to recover any Bitcoins locked up on the account. The very same applies to your tumbler account.

How To Mix Your Bitcoins

Think Before

When searching for a mixing service, there are a couple of questions that you should have:

  1. Do I utilize a Darknet or Clearnet mixing service?
  2. How do I figure out who to trust?
  3. May I employ a do-it-yourself (DIY) approach?

Contingent on what your objectives are, you may either deploy a Darknet or Clearnet tumbler solution. Generally, Darknet service providers adhere to brief data retention policies. Such Darknet providers frequently do not retain your data for any longer than seven days, and they are considerably less likely to supply your information to a third-party upon request, particularly considering they are not usually subject to being subpoenaed. In contrast, Clearnet providers hold comparable data retention policies, though they are far more inclined to comply with third-parties, for example, law enforcement.

It is difficult to figure out who to trust your cryptocurrency with, particularly on the Darknet. The answer to this trust issue is to seek a publicly respectable service provider with a favorable, clean track record of mixing cryptocurrency. An experienced cryptocurrency user will always be careful of potential one-stop-shops that engage in active marketing and deceiving their customers, having to vanish the following day. Spotting Bitcoin scams is essential for cryptocurrency wallet users. Therefore, it is ideal to search around on the internet, ask when needed, and seek for the finest solution based upon your own research.

We strongly do not recommend that you utilize a DIY mixing approach, particularly if you lack a profound technical understanding of cryptocurrency and blockchain analysis.

Tumbling Bitcoins

Here comes the part you’ve been eagerly waiting for.

For this tutorial, you will deploy a third-party Darknet mixing service. Note that there are various options available. For illustration purposes, you’ll see the utilization of a defunct tumbler.

Keep in mind when using a Darknet mixing service, you’ll want to open up the Tor Browser and type in the relevant onion web URL

It is imperative to verify that you are using the correct .onion URLs. There are scammers everywhere on the internet, including the Darknet. Hence, you shouldn’t trust easily. Always check to make sure the .onion URLs are genuine and not fake. It may be challenging to verify onion addresses since numerous Tor hidden services lack HTTPS addresses and SSL certificates.

1. Proceed by opening a new tab in your Tor Browser and visit the onion site of the Darknet tumbler you will be using.

For our example, an account may be created if desired, but the website’s unique Quick Mix feature may be deployed. Pay attention to the box where the user may type in their “Quick Mix ID“. The user making use of this feature will not already possess one yet, though the ID can be useful for monitoring the tumbling status.

2. Type in the addresses of your third tumbler wallet that you created earlier from the section “Creating Your Third Wallet“. Keep in mind that you enter each of the three address on its own line without any punctuation. You may also set randomized delays to hinder time-based analysis of your blockchain transactions. You may set the maximum delay to two hours. You may choose to set a lower number if you wish. Next, click on the “Create new Quick Mix” button to continue.

Avoid using Blockchain.info‘s shared send and any additional conjoined tumbling services provided by your wallet or exchange. These features and services will not sufficiently conceal your tracks.

On the following web page, write down your “Quick Mix ID” and place it into a safe place, like as an encrypted note. Towards the bottom of the mixer’s page, you can grab a PGP signed guarantee by clicking the link as observed in the screenshot. You may copy and paste the text if you wish. Such text can be useful if you require assistance from the staff that run the tumbler. To go back to the status page of Quick Mix, simply click on the back button.

Bear in mind that the minimum withdrawal amount as of the tutorial publication is 0.01 BTC which indicates that when the mix is finished, you’ll require enough to cover 0.01 BTC in addition to the fees incurred by the tumbler and network. Evidently, such tumbling processes and fees will also vary according to the mixer you ultimately choose to use. The defunct tumbler charged a randomized fee which is typically between one and three percent, and the network fee will differ. Various tumblers take different amounts, though be on guard of anything that appears too good to be true. Some mixers will take a tiny random percentage to render their transactions harder to trace. Ensure that you ultimately hold sufficient funds or else you risk your transaction not coming through which also means that you won’t obtain your acquire your Bitcoins.

1. Go back and login to the Blockchain.info Tor onion site for your second wallet. At the moment, you should be able to see the Bitcoins in the second wallet. You may have to authorize your login with the verification email that was sent to your burner email address.

2. Proceed by clicking the “Send” button and type in the mixing address from BitBlender and the amount you want to send. Keep in mind that you are not entering your own wallet address. There is also a transaction fee. Click the “Continue” button to proceed to send the Bitcoins.

The defunct tumbler will wait for the original transaction to be confirmed numerous times on the blockchain prior to it processing your coins. After it starts processing, the length of time is influenced by any time delays you have added earlier.

Arrival Of New Bitcoins In Your Tumbler Wallet

When the tumbling process is finished, the Bitcoins will reach your tumbler wallet. You’ll want to proceed by logging into the wallet using your wallet ID. Also, you’ll likely need to verify the wallet login using the burner email address you employed to make the Blockchain.info account.

At this point, you’ll successfully possess a Bitcoin cryptocurrency wallet that is funded and virtually untraceable.

Ensure that you always use the Tor Browser anytime you access this particular wallet going forward.

Pro Tips To Remember

  • Tumbler services always come with significant cautions. Always remember the fact that cryptocurrency users need to turn over control of their Bitcoins and trust the mixing service to return them.
  • Transaction graph analysis may identify the utilization of a tumbling service and flag the user as possibly distrustful.
  • Tumblers do not function properly for substantial amounts, except that other users with similarly large amounts coincidentally tumble their Bitcoins simultaneously.
  • Continually verify your transaction fees prior to sending Bitcoins to be certain you are not going to lose an abundant portion of your money. If you can wait, hold still until the network traffic diminishes and fees drop.
  • Bitcoin transaction fees will differ contingent on the quantity of traffic on the network and the exchange you employ to fund your wallet.
  • Ensure you send the minimum amount needed by the tumbler including fees. Otherwise, your money will be deemed a donation.
  • We recommend that you make new wallets and accounts with new burner email addresses whenever you are going to mix Bitcoins. Bear in mind that cryptocurrency mixing services are probably under surveillance by various governments. Hence, any wallets you send money to or from them may be monitored too.
  • Note that there are many private burner email providers. Take your time and do your research prior to making a decision.
  • Few mixers do not operate as advertised and may be reverse-engineered.
  • Cryptocurrency mixing services that function legally need to maintain thorough records of how the coins were tumbled, which may subsequently be hacked or subpoenaed. Mixers may claim that they delete all records of your transactions briefly after the transaction is finished. Nonetheless, they may have left a trail of where your Bitcoins went. You may nullify this risk by using another cryptocurrency tumbler.
  • If you unwittingly receive Bitcoins that have been tainted, tumbling them through a reliable mixing service may render the Bitcoins operable again.
  • It is important to keep in mind that no software or cryptocurrency framework thus far, that is 100% anonymous. Cryptocurrency users of all levels (Beginner, intermediate, and advanced) may experiment with Altcoins which are alternative cryptocurrencies launched after the triumph of Bitcoin. Such Altcoins include Dash and Monero. Cryptocurrency users may think that such tokens are better at obfuscating transactions, which is a reason they might consider using Altcoins. Dash employs a coin-mixing technique based on the CoinJoin protocol, whereas Monero deploys ring signatures that shuffle tokens in a completely distinct way.
  • Advanced cryptocurrency wallet users will likely refrain from using the same mixer numerous times and may frequently switch to other mixers or utilize tumblers from different services along with separate wallets and different accounts to create layers to be indiscernible.
  • Previously, a number of users suggested using Blockchain.info’s taint analysis tool to make sure that your second wallet and mixer wallets were not connected in any way. This tool no longer exists, and there have been no alternative solutions that replace it. Ensure that none of the “middleman” wallet addresses, including the second wallet address you created earlier, that you sent Bitcoins from are identical to the mixer wallets you received it at.
Taint analysis of Bitcoin (BTC)

Additional Useful Tips To Remember

1. Even though names and IP addresses aren’t saved directly in the Bitcoin blockchain, the final source of funds and their destinations are. Hence, figuring out where the funds initially came from or where they are headed isn’t merely easy, it’s negligible. If you value increased anonymity, It is absolutely necessary to employ obfuscation through the use of various mixing services or/and appropriate usage of proxies/VPNs.

Know that there are many publicly available websites that render such search simple since any individual may explore by clicking around and piecing parts together to figure it all out.

2. The Tor Browser should be adequate for the majority of cryptocurrency users. Nonetheless, you might want to consider using a live operating system such as Tails (The Amnesic Incognito Live System) that you can boot up nearly any computer from a USB stick or a DVD. Tails is an excellent option if you want to leave absolutely no trace of user activity in your web browsing history, bash history, logs, page files, and basically anything.

Another viable option you can consider using to protect your anonymity is Whonix. Similar to the Tails operating system, Whonix protects the user’s anonymity from potential adversaries by making use of the Tor system to hide their real IP address and location while they are in a protected Debian-based Linux instance. Note that unlike Tails, Whonix is not designed to be “amnesic” as it runs in a virtual machine. Hence, Whonix does not prevent digital forensic analysis if the computer is seized. Nevertheless, if user IP leakage/discovery is a significant concern, we suggest considering the use of Whonix since it provides tremendous protection against discovering the cryptocurrency user’s real IP address. Note that there are different options for setting up and using Whonix.

If you are a technically sophisticated user who wants improved compartmentalization of user activities for exceptional privacy, you might even consider combining Qubes OS and Whonix (Qubes-Whonix) for significantly increased security and anonymity.

3. Increasing Tor anonymity and security is vital for users of Bitcoins and Altcoins.

4. If you want to establish more layers of protection, you might even want to consider using both Tor and a VPN simultaneously.

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