Research Study Suggests Transaction Malleability Not The Cause of Mt. Gox Bitcoin Losses

Mark Karpeles Portrait

Was a transaction malleability flaw the true cause of over 750,000 BTC belong to Mt. Gox customers going missing?

According to a study conducted by Christian Decker and Roger Wattenhofer of ETH Zürich (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology), transaction malleability accounted for significantly less loss than Mt. Gox declared — as little as 386 bitcoins.

…while MtGox claimed to have lost 850,000 bitcoins due to malleability attacks, we merely observed a total of 302,000 bitcoins ever being involved in malleability attacks. Of these, only 1,811 bitcoins were in attacks before MtGox stopped users from withdrawing bitcoins. Even more, 78.64% of these attacks were ineffective. As such, barely 386 bitcoins could have been stolen using malleability attacks from MtGox or from other businesses. Even if all of these attacks were targeted against MtGox, MtGox needs to explain the whereabouts of 849,600 bitcoins.

The research was done through careful analysis of the bitcoin blockchain, which raises even more questions.

Where’s the remaining funds? Why (assuming the study is correct) did Mt. Gox lie?

Recently, the Tokyo-based company announced they “found” 200,000 BTC in an old wallet, and if that doesn’t outline the incompetence of this company, we don’t know what will.

Read the full study here.

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