SpectreCoin

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Official SpectreCoin logo

SpectreCoin (XSPEC) is an innovative privacy focused cryptocurrency, featuring an energy-efficient proof-of-stake algorithm that provides rapid transaction confirmations, ring signatures for privacy and anonymity, and a fully integrated Tor+OBFS4 layer for IP obfuscation within the wallet. Spectrecoin is actively developed, with an ambitious roadmap that prioritises privacy, security, and true decentralisation with features such as default stealth addresses and stealth staking, and low-power mobile wallet staking in our upcoming Android wallet. - Official FAQ

The goal of Spectrecoin is to combine a blockchain with a tokenized ring-signature scheme to build a system of anonymous digital cash. The ring-signature scheme used here was first introduced by ShadowCash, and is now being improved on by the Spectrecoin developers. For network-level privacy, all nodes communicate exclusively within the Tor network via hidden services. The priorities of the Spectrecoin project are on privacy, technical soundness and simplicity. The Proof-of-Stake consensus method is used to provide environmental friendliness, decentralization and transaction speed. The project is built around open participation, development is funded through an innovative staking-reward donation system.

Please also take a look at the Official FAQ and a slightly different FAQ by Gandalf86: https://github.com/bitcoinx2/spectre/wiki/FAQ

Specifications

Variable Value
Ticker XSPEC
Announcement date October 20, 2016
Consensus method Proof-of-Stake 3.0
Initial supply 20,000,000
Max supply None
Block time 60 seconds
Staking interest 5% p.a.
Block reward ~2 XSPEC
Maturity 288 blocks
Min stake age 8 hours
Initial distribution ICO
Average ICO price ~83 sat

Explain like I'm five!

Inspired by https://www.reddit.com/r/explainlikeimfive/

What is SpectreCoin? It's a cryptocurrency that we want to be as private as physical cash!

Why? Because we believe that when making financial transactions, privacy is extremely important! Nowadays, when you send money to someone else (e.g. via bank transfer, credit card, PayPal etc.), then your transactions will be tracked and logged by somebody. Whoever can access that data, can exactly see who you are paying, what you are paying for, how much money you have etc.. On the other hand, more and more countries are abandoning physical cash! We think that this is a highly alarming development, because when everything is digital, privacy of information is extremely important.

But of course, being able to make digital payments is totally necessary nowadays (and it's more comfortable than physical cash, too!). So with SpectreCoin, we want to create a new kind of "digital cash", that is as private as physical cash, but can be sent and received with a computer or a smartphone. To make it as private as real cash, we use a certain combination of clever techniques, that makes this coin unique.

How do you do it? Our new currency is somewhat similar to Bitcoin, but we have made some changes. The first difference is that our program (the wallet) does not directly communicate with other people, but only via a series of middlemen. For this we use the "Tor network". This is necessary because otherwise, the internet providers (or governments) could still figure out who is sending the money. We even offer a way to hide the fact that we are using Tor! :D This technology is called OBFS4.

The second difference is that in Bitcoin (and many other cryptocurrencies), everything is logged on the blockchain. We offer a way to hide where the money is going to and where it comes from, using a technology called "stealth transactions". More details can be found in the Anonymity section.

The third thing that makes us different from Bitcoin, is that Bitcoin (like many other projects) uses a certain method of reaching consensus on the network, which is based on making lots of random computations with some very powerful computers (called "mining"). We don't like that method for multiple reasons:

  • It's a huge waste of energy, which is bad for the environment! We should start thinking long-term and use sustainable technologies.
  • Only few people can afford operating these mining farms, which means that relatively few people control the network! This is exactly not what we want, we want give control back to the people.

That's why we use a different method, called Proof-of-Stake (PoS). This method is very energy efficient and cost efficient, which means that every user can contribute to building a consensus on the network! And if you do it, you will get 5% of your balance per year as a reward.

But why do I need all of this? Maybe you don't need the privacy, but as a whole society, having a private payment method like this is definitely needed! That's why we want everybody in the world to use our currency. :)

Does it actually work? Yes ... but there are still some things that we want to improve. For example, at the moment you have to explicitly choose if you want to make a stealth transaction, otherwise the transaction is public. We want to make this the default. Also, for Proof-of-Stake, your balance must be public. We want this to work with private balances in the future. We also want to make a mobile App for SpectreCoin, and make a new wallet for the PC that is easier to use. There are so many things we want to do! :) But we have some very smart developers that we pay from our staking rewards (from PoS), who are working like crazy! :D So hopefully it shouldn't take too long. But even at the current stage, we can offer some pretty decent privacy, even better than some other of the so-called anonymous cryptocurrencies!

How can I join? There are many friendly people in our SpectreCoin community! Everybody can join, either to get help or to contribute to the project. You can download the software from our website (see the Download section), get some Spectre coins (see Exchanges) or join our community using the links at the bottom of this page! :)

History

Note: All past release notes can be found on the Github release page: https://github.com/spectrecoin/spectre/releases

SpectreCoin was created in 2016 to improve on the concept of ShadowCash (SDC). The ICO took place starting Nov 20, 2016, until Jan 8, 2017. The goal was to add Tor integration to the ShadowCash codebase, and further extend the concept of an anonymous currency to target remittances via a mobile application, using a system inspired by Hawala. To release the ICO funds through an escrow, the Tor integration part was completed and submitted a few days after the ICO had ended.

Unfortunately, only few funds could be acquired during ICO, totaling to ~17 BTC (~16,000 USD at that time). The reason for this was unclear, part of it could be a bad timing and some people calling it a scam or "ShadowCash clone" repeatedly. Still as planned, the entirety of 20 Mio. XSPEC was proportionally distributed to the participating investors, resulting in an astonishing ICO price of only 83 sat on average (most investors paid more like 90 sat per coin, due to a bonus system to benefit early birds during ICO). As soon as the Tor integration was submitted and the coin was listed on exchanges, it was traded at a more realistic price of 1000-2000 sat, leading to a very high initial return for ICO investors. A large portion of the money acquired through the ICO was immediately spent on paying the contracted developers for their initial development work.

Since April 2017, the ShadowCash project has been abandoned for a new project of the ShadowCash developers called Particl, which ultimately stopped the accusations of SpectreCoin being a ShadowCash clone.

During summer 2017, SpectreCoin founder mandica started facing serious health issues and finally handed over the project leadership to lead developer jbg, who is now developing the coin.

Aug 9, 2017, SpectreCoin version 1.3.0 was released by jbg. This update fixed a lot of issues in the old codebase, updated Tor, included a 32-bit binary for Windows and added support for the OBFS4 obfuscation protocol. Also, a new website was created on https://spectreproject.io/ with updated information and a new, clean design to display the philosophy of the new project leadership.

From Aug 20 to Aug 25, 2017, the community raised ~37,500 XSPEC and 1 BTC (which was about ~$4000 USD at that time) to fund development, which allowed jbg to quit his job and work as a full-time developer for SpectreCoin.

Sept 10, 2017, an ex-colleague of jbg, @brycel, joined the project as a cryptographer in order to improve the stealth transaction mechanism, so that it could be used as the default transaction mechanism in future versions. Brycel was initially paid by Mandica from her own pocket to work for 1 month.

Sept 11, 2017, wallet version 1.3.1 was released by jbg, which addressed a visual bug in previous wallet versions that had become known as the infamous zero-balance bug, because it made the users balance appear as zero. Furthermore, this release was the first to include a binary for Apple MacOS. A change to the stealth transaction mechanism was introduced so that the wallet allows for non-anonymous ring signatures with only 1 or 2 members. The reason for this was that at that stage, the network often did not have enough participants for ring signatures to do a full ring signature transaction. On the same day, version 1.3.2 was released that fixed a minor bug in version 1.3.1.

Sept 12, 2017, version 1.3.3 was released, which fixes some further GUI issues, and brings faster wallet startup and sync performance.

During October 2017, the community raised additional funding for Brycel so that he could continue working on the project.

Wallet version 1.3.4 with an updated Tor version, updated node list and a new "staking reward donation system" was to be released on Jan 8, 2018, but got delayed due to a leveldb transition issue and a Qt4 bug on Windows. The decision was made to skip 1.3.4 and instead port the wallet to Qt5, which would become version 1.3.5.

Jan 16, 2018, wallet version 1.3.5 got released. With this release, a new project funding mechanism was introduced, that allows users to donate a certain percentage of their staking rewards to the developers of Spectrecoin. The donation is probabilistic, and by default 5% of the staking rewards are donated, which means that on average, every 20th staking reward will be accounted to the official donation address instead of the user's address. By donating up to 100% of their staking rewards, users can decide to financially support the development team on an ongoing basis, in order for them to be able to grow the team and hire additional full-time developers.

Current development

The upcoming wallet version is version 1.4. For more info, see http://spectreproject.io/roadmap/

Anonymity

Note: This section is still work in progress.

Receiver anonymity: To receive a payment without revealing your identity, you can create a "stealth address". Now there are 2 cases:

  • If the sender decides to send you a publicly visible payment, it will be accounted to a new, unused public address. You can manually transfer this to private balance by "minting" the coins if you want, or send it somewhere else using a public transaction.
  • If the sender decides to send you a private payment, it will be accounted to your private balance. This does not directly reflect on the blockchain.

A general description of dual-key stealth addresses (DKSA) can be found here: https://steemit.com/monero/@luigi1111/understanding-monero-cryptography-privacy-part-2-stealth-addresses

Sender anonymity: To send a payment without revealing your identity, you first have to transfer your coins to private balance. When making a transaction, you can choose whether to account the balance to the public or the private balance of the receiver. When sending from private balance, our ring-signature scheme is being used.

The case when sending from private balance to private balance, which is anonymous for both the sender and the receiver, we call a "stealth transaction".

Pitfalls: If you transfer some part of your public balance to private balance, and then directly send the full amount to someone else, this payment could be linked back to your public address. For this reason, you should always store more coins as private balance than you are planning to send! The same problem also applies to all Zerocoin implementations, for example. You are responsible for protecting your own privacy! SpectreCoin is just a tool to help you with that, but it does not protect against misuse.


Whitepaper: There is the original ShadowCash whitepaper (PDF), however we found that it has numerous quality problems (it is incomplete, inconsistent and copied&pasted from other sources to a large degree). The SpectreCoin developers will release their own whitepaper together with Spectrecoin version 2.0, which will include the changes made to the original ShadowCash implementation (which, in contrast to the whitepaper, does a good job), and additionally a description of the new and innovative "stealth staking" mechanism that is planned for that version.

This is how a stealth transaction currently looks like on the block explorer: Link

Tor integration

Many cryptocurrencies today support connecting your wallet to other nodes on the network through Tor in some way. With these coins, other nodes are still addressed by their IP address, but each user has the choice to hide his IP address by routing his traffic through several hops on the Tor network, including one entry and one exit node. Such a scheme has several downsides. For example, the exit node can read the unencrypted traffic that goes from a node that uses Tor (A), to a node that doesn't use Tor (B), and can act as a man-in-the-middle. Furthermore, exit nodes could collaborate and prevent A (or any cryptocurrency user that tries to use Tor) from doing transactions altogether. Finally, if not every coin node uses Tor, an attacker could analyse the network structure at the unprotected nodes and maybe use timing analysis attacks or correlation attacks to deanonymize nodes that are routing through Tor.

In SpectreCoin, all nodes on the network are operating as Tor hidden services. They are not addressed by their IP address, but by their .onion address which encodes a public key used for traffic encryption along with a way to find a route to that node. No exit nodes are involved, and at any point in time, the communication between two nodes is fully encrypted. SpectreCoin comes bundled with the latest Tor software that has been included without any functional changes. It is not possible to connect to the SpectreCoin network without using Tor, as all nodes are only reachable via their hidden service address. No real IP addresses are known to any network participant except for their own, and it is infeasible for an attacker to analyze the network structure or censor the network.

OBFS4

SpectreCoin has inbuilt support for OBFS4 to use it with Tor Pluggable Transports. OBFS4 is an obfuscation protocol that hides the nature of the traffic that goes through it. By incorporating OBFS4, it is possible to use SpectreCoin even in countries where access to the Tor network is censored, like China or Iran. It is currently the recommended pluggable transport of the Tor project. More info can be found on the Pluggable Transports page of the Tor website.

A guide on how to set up OBFS4 can be found on the Spectrecoin homepage: https://spectreproject.io/guides/obfs4/

Comparison with other coins

In this section we will answer the common question of "How does SpectreCoin compare to X?", where X is one of the following coins.

CloakCoin

  • Both CloakCoin and SpectreCoin use PoS only and don't have masternodes.
  • CloakCoin has 6% inflation, SpectreCoin has 5% inflation.
  • Both have a block time of 60 seconds.
  • CloakCoin uses the proprietary terms "CloakShield" and "ENIGMA transactions", while SpectreCoin uses Tor and ring signatures. This makes SpectreCoin technology easier to understand.
  • CloakCoin seems to also target applications sending data between each other via the CloakCoin network, while SpectreCoin focuses on being simply a currency.
  • While CloakCoin has its own onion routing network, SpectreCoin is part of the official Tor network. This makes SpectreCoin more anonymous (as there are much more nodes participating in the network), and more difficult to censor.
  • CloakCoin's ENIGMA protocol seems to be based on mixing, whereas SpectreCoin uses untraceable ring signatures that we find to be more efficient and also more secure: Ring signatures (using private fixed-size tokens) are information-theoretically anonymous, while mixed transactions could possibly be prone to correlation attacks and malicious nodes.
  • All funds are visible on the blockchain, whereas in SpectreCoin, funds that are stored as private balance (tokens for ring signatures) are not publicly visible.

DeepOnion

Note: This comparison was removed due to repeated removal or disturbance of our explanation regarding the numerous problems that we see with DeepOnion. The SpectreCoin project does not consider DeepOnion to be a serious competitor in any of the objectives covered by SpectreCoin. Please use the article about DeepOnion and other resources to do your own research.

Monero

  • Monero is a much bigger project than SpectreCoin and has a lot more devs, but also a much higher price. So Spectre has bigger potential to grow.
  • Monero uses Proof-of-Work, SpectreCoin uses Proof-of-Stake.
  • The Monero wallet is mature and stable, while there are still some bugs in SpectreCoin.
  • In Monero, you can send money anonymously, while this does not quite work with SpectreCoin yet, because there are too few "tokens" available for making a ring-signature. We want to make Spectre Tokens (for ring signatures) the default in future versions, which should solve this problem.
  • SpectreCoin has a rich list, while Monero does not. This comes from the fact that SpectreCoin's anonymity is an add-on to normal Bitcoin-like operation at this point, so anonymity (and storing coins as tokens instead of on a public address) is optional in SpectreCoin. We want to make it the default in future versions. Spectre tokens that are stored as "private balance" in the wallet are not visible in the block explorer.
  • SpectreCoin has native Tor integration and all nodes run as hidden services. Monero plans to add an I2P implementation called "Kovri", but it's not the default for Monero yet. Monero can also run via Tor, but only using it as a proxy that uses Tor exit nodes, which comes with some problems (see the Tor integration section).
  • In a Twitter post [1], "fluffpony" (the Monero project leader) noted that using Tor hidden services in SpectreCoin might be susceptible to isolation attacks because .onion address are costless to create. This problem is mitigated in SpectreCoin because the onion addresses used to join the SpectreCoin network have certain requirements, which requires the user to "mine" for a suitable Tor public key first before joining the network. Also, like most Bitcoin-based wallets, SpectreCoin has sophisticated security mechanisms for node selection, so running an isolation attack is not so simple.

PIVX

  • Both PIVX and SpectreCoin use PoS v3.
  • PIVX transaction privacy is realized as a Zerocoin implementation, while SpectreCoin uses ring signatures.
  • PIVX uses masternodes which is a type of centralisation, which we don't want (nor need) for SpectreCoin.
  • The PIVX network is public, which makes it prone to surveillance and censorship, whereas the SpectreCoin is fully hidden inside the Tor network.

Verge

  • Verge uses PoW, SpectreCoin uses PoS.
  • The Verge wallet supports routing via Tor and I2P, SpectreCoin only uses Tor.
  • The Tor integration in Verge is only using Tor as a proxy (see the Tor integration section), while the SpectreCoin network is running between Tor hidden services.
  • Verge transactions are fully traceable on the blockchain. SpectreCoin has an optional stealth transaction mechanism that allows the user to make anonymous transactions. This mechanism is planned to become the default with version 2.0 of SpectreCoin.
  • In summary, Verge does not offer much privacy that would distinguish it from any other coin like Bitcoin, which can also be used via Tor. In contrast, SpectreCoin is fully dedicated to offer its users actual privacy and anonymity that will protect against dedicated attackers such as governments or private investigators.

Official team

Role Name Activity Bitcointalk Slack Twitter
Founder Heidi Kaulitz Occasionally mandica @spectreproject @SpectreCash
Lead developer jbg Full-time spectre_jbg @jbg -
Community manager Beachguy Part-time Beachguy @beachguy -
Cryptographer Bryce L Full-time - @brycel -
Web developer kepler Part-time - @kepler -

Exchanges

You can use exchanges to buy and sell Spectre coins (XSPEC) for Bitcoin (BTC). They are free to use, you just need to make an account and deposit some BTC to the site. You need to get Bitcoin from somewhere else, first. A list of exchanges that support SpectreCoin can be found here: https://coinmarketcap.com/currencies/spectrecoin/#markets. You can also trade Spectrecoin on the Bisq decentralized exchange via Tor, see https://bisq.network/.

After you bought XSPEC from one of the exchanges, you should transfer them to your wallet. See the Download section below. Sending coins to someone else directly from an exchange does NOT give you the same anonymity guarantees as if you use the standalone wallet!

Regarding adding SpectreCoin to additional exchanges, see the FAQ entry Why isn’t Spectrecoin on more exchanges?.

Download

Windows

The download links (for 32 and 64 bit) are available from the official website. Please make sure to check the SHA256 sum after downloading the file, to verify that it is not corrupted! There are different ways to check the SHA256 sum:

  • Using a dedicated checksum tool like Quickhash GUI.
  • If you have 7-zip installed (a very neat archive extractor), you can check the SHA256 sum using a context menu entry called "CRC SHA". (We would recommend you to install 7-zip, as it is a very useful utility anyway! ;))
  • If you are command-line savvy, you can use the Windows command "CertUtil -hashfile pathToFileToCheck SHA256".

Please do not download the wallet from other sources than the official ones!

MacOS

The download link is available from the official website. Please make sure to check the SHA256 sum after downloading the file, to verify that it is not corrupted! To do so, launch a terminal inside the download folder and run the command "shasum -a 256 <filename>.zip". Compare the hash sum with the one listed on the official download page.

Unix

If you are using a different Unix-based operating system (e.g. Linux), please compile the software on your own system using the instructions found in the Github repository. You can also ask for help in Slack if needed (see "Links" below).

Code names

Starting with wallet version 1.3, the SpectreCoin community started giving code names to major releases, based on the most common reactions from newbies using the wallet or problems people were experiencing, written in intentionally broken English. Version 1.3 was named "Why my balance is zero?", which refers to a bug in the user interface that was left over from the old ShadowCash code and leads to the displayed balance not being updated after the start of the wallet, making it appear as "0.00".

Technical information

Data directory

The data directory contains the application-specific files, such as the downloaded blockchain and your private keys. It is created on the first start of the wallet on your system. You should usually not touch this folder, unless you know what you are doing. The location of the data directory depends on your operating system, as listed below.

Operating System Data directory path
Windows C:\Users\Username\AppData\Roaming\SpectreCoin
Unix-like (Linux, *BSD etc.) ~/.spectrecoin
Mac OS ~/Library/Application Support/SpectreCoin

Depending on your system settings, you might need to display "hidden files" in order to access these directories.

The file "wallet.dat" contains your private keys, make sure to not delete it accidentally. You can make backups of it using the graphical wallet, via the "Backup" menu.

Default ports

In most cases, the SpectreCoin wallet should be able to connect without any manual configuration.

Purpose Port number
Wallet 37347
RPC 36657
Tor Socks 9089

Media coverage

September 2017

October 2017

January 2018

Previous ANN threads

This is the list of previous announcement threads on Bitcointalk (ANN threads), in ascending order, for the sake of transparency:

Project links

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