Business

Erik Gibbs

Localbitcoins users warned against using TOR over theft concerns

Peer-to-peer cryptocurrency trading platform Localbitcoins wants users to avoid using the TOR browser. It has published a notice on its website that says that the use of the privacy-centric browser could result in an increased risk of users having their assets stolen and the announcement has had mixed reactions from the crypto community.

A Twitter user, Richard Bensberg, brought the issue to the front lines, providing a screen capture of the warning September 9.

Users who connect to Localbitcoins through TOR are presented with a banner on the website that reads, “Warning to all TOR users: A TOR browser exposes you to the risk of having your bitcoins stolen.”

The site points out the use of the browser does not violate its terms of service, but that the message is just presented as a cautionary statement to protect its users. Another user pointed out that there is a solid explanation for the warning, explaining, “There’s actually a logical reason for this. Tor is safe with [crypto] if you’re not leaving TOR, if you are though the exit node makes eclipse attacks waaaaay easier.”

Some of those that responded to the thread showed that they were only interested in bashing Localbitcoins because it “attacked” TOR and were willing to ignore the facts. Offering a security warning is never a bad idea and the site never said using other browsers would be safer. The difference is, everyone knows that Chrome and Firefox, among others, have certain vulnerabilities. However, TOR is often presented as a completely safe, unbreakable browser.

There is another reason the site is providing the warning, and it goes to the heart of crypto. Soon, any site that allows crypto exchanges is going to have to comply with certain anti-money laundering and know-your-customer guidelines and will have to report that information – Localbitcoins has said that all accounts have to be identified by October 1 or they could be suspended.

Despite the misguided belief that crypto was designed to be anonymous, it never was, and the Bitcoin ecosystem is simply going to have to come to terms with the fact that crypto is meant to be exactly like fiat, only digital and not controlled by a central bank.

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