Wasabi Wallet — a software wallet meant to enhance Bitcoin (BTC) privacy through mixing — accused their main competitor Wasabi of running a “psyop” through their educational project Coinjoins.org.
In a lengthy Twitter thread, Samourai claims the educational project is designed to make users forget the recent announcement with chain surveillance firms to create “compliant coinjoin.”
Samourai has not answered the request for sources about Wasabi developing a compliant coinjoin by press time.
Samourai also pointed to the PlusToken ponzi scheme as bad actors, having purportedly seen their mixing deanonymized “due to broken Wasabi mixing protocol.”
In its analysis of the PlustToken scam, OXT Research detected an “abnormally high address reuse among Wasabi mixer outputs” which “led to the discovery of an active Sybil attack on the Wasabi mixer.” Furthermore, “the source of the Sybil attack traced back to addresses reportedly controlled by PlusToken.”
A Sybil attack uses a node to operate many fake identities — called Sybil identities — simultaneously in a peer-to-peer network such as a blockchain. The aim is usually to influence the network or gain intelligence on its participants.
Similarly, OXT Research’s analysis of the North Korean Lazarus Group and deanonymization of laundered funds also cited the poor quality of Wasabi’s CoinJoin implementation, as did the research analyzing the KuCoin hack and the Hydra deep web black market. The last two cases cited were about Blender, a centralized frontend to Wasabi.
While the findings are interesting, one cannot help but notice that they all come from one source, making collusion more likely. Moreover, OXT Research pointed out back in 2021 that it works with Samourai “developers to test and create techniques that mitigate the privacy shortcomings,” so the two parties have close ties.
Samourai further claims that it had discovered that Wasabi’s coin selection algorithm for Conjoin was deterministic and predictable in 2020 — a flaw nullifying all anonymity gained. Wasabi reportedly refuted the claim and silently patched later.
“When confronted with actual on chain reproducible research, Thibaud, Wasabi, and many of the influencers and podcasters paid by Wasabi marketing swept it all under the rug. Now we’re expected to believe they care about open-source blockchain coinjoin research. Give me a break.”Samourai Wallet spokesperson
A long-term conflict
The conflict between Samourai Wallet and Wasabi Wallet is not a new one. Samourai has been raising concerns over alleged privacy shortcomings in Wasabi Wallet’s Coinjoin implementation as far as 2019 — and possibly much earlier.
In a 2020 comment on the conflict between the two companies, Mário Havel, co-founder of crypto-and-privacy non-profit Paralelni Polis, said that “there were many clashes in the past, more or less reasonable, but generally, Samourai research does a good and interesting job for the privacy ecosystem of Bitcoin.”
Unfortunately, the accusations moved by Samourai against Wasabi usually require a significant amount of precise technical knowledge and research to be understood and even more to be proven or disproven. For this reason, waiting for expert analysis and commentary is the best way to shed light on the controversy.