Monero’s “IP Address Leak” Isn’t an Exploit and Doesn’t Affect Anonymity

Various cryptocurrencies out there have many issues or drawbacks in need of fixing. For Bitcoin, it is a lack of privacy and anonymity. For others, it is privacy-centric features that entail a high degree of centralization. In the case of Monero, there has been a “leak” of IP addresses. This doesn’t impact the currency’s anonymity in the slightest, though, and a solution has been in development for several months now.

Monero IP “Leak” Isn’t an Issue

Every time a piece of information is made public knowledge, there will be people who misinterpret the exact details. This is especially true when it comes to Reddit, as a lot of people have a way of twisting words to suit their own agendas. That’s not the best course of action by any means, though, as it creates more falsehoods and FUD. In the case of Monero, the new revelation about IP addresses being exposed is subject to a lot of false information.

To put this news into perspective, it is well known some Monero nodes leak IP addresses now and then. This is not even close to a vulnerability, as it was an issue found within the system quite some time ago. It is also one of the priorities for the development team right now, as their Kovri solution has been in the works to counter this issue precisely. Exposing IP addresses isn’t dangerous in any major way and doesn’t threaten the true anonymity provided by the Monero ecosystem either.

To be more precise, the IP addresses being leaked are pretty much random. They do not point “investigators” in any direction and bear no correlation with specific transactions on the Monero network. An IP address is a piece of information that reveals something about the computers and locations used by Monero users, but if you can’t link it to a transaction or anything else on the network, then there is no anonymity issue to speak of.

Moreover, the Kovri “protocol” will solve this problem as soon as it is finished. The XMR community collected a total of 7,000 XMR quite some time ago to help fund this project. It is a custom C++ implementation which will conceal IP addresses by default. There are other ways to successfully mask IP addresses these days, but it is always good to have something built in by default. There is no official timeline as to when Kovri will be released, but progress is being made every single week.

In a way, it is pretty baffling to see the original source claiming this leak to be a “vulnerability”. It isn’t, and the entire community and development team have been aware of it for quite some time now. Moreover, this is not something one can compare to deanonymizing Tor users because some exit nodes leak IP addresses. There is nothing linking the IP addresses in question to Monero activity or to anything else. Transactions remain private and anonymous, as they have always been.

It seems there is still a lot of confusion about how privacy works in the cryptocurrency world. Masking an IP address – or lack thereof – doesn’t make a currency more or less private by any means. Hiding transactions and address balances is a whole different ballgame. This leak doesn’t affect any of those aspects in the slightest, and shouldn’t be considered to be of any major consequence. After all, people who take privacy seriously will never expose their real IP in the first place.