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Did the NSA ‘create’ Satoshi Nakamoto?

small__3532485014The CIA Project, a group dedicated to unearthing all of the government’s secret projects and making them public, has released a video claiming Bitcoin is actually the brainchild of the US National Security Agency.

The video entitled CIA Project Bitcoin: Is Bitcoin a CIA or NSA project? claims that there is a lot of compelling evidences that proves that the NSA is behind Bitcoin. One of the main pieces of evidence has to do with the name of the mysterious man, woman or group behind the creation of Bitcoin, “Satoshi Nakamoto”.

According to the CIA Project, Satoshi Nakamoto means “Central Intelligence” in Japanese. Doing a quick web search, you’ll find out that Satoshi is usually a name given for baby boys which means “clear thinking, quick witted, wise,” while Nakamoto is a Japanese surname which means ‘central origin’ or ‘(one who lives) in the middle’ as people with this surname are found mostly in the Ryukyu islands which is strongly associated with the Ryūkyū Kingdom, a highly centralized kingdom that originated from the Okinawa Islands. So combining Nakamoto and Satoshi can be loosely interpreted as “Central Intelligence”.

The CIA Project also points to the fact that no one has ever actually met Satoshi Nakamoto in person, and there’s no conclusive evidence that could lead to his identification. The group says this means that the individual who created Bitcoin almost certainly had intelligence training;

Other evidence includes the fact that Bitcoin uses a common PRNG (crypto program) to create secure keys, which is itself believed to have an NSA backdoor; numerous Reddit threads linking Bitcoin or Satoshi Nakamoto with the NSA have been removed; and that Bitcoin is not decentralized as it is being controlled by a small group which is led by Gavin Bell, popularly known as Gavin Andresen – the face of Bitcoin.

But do the CIA Project’s claims have any merit?

As it stands, their argument is not very compelling.  The meaning of Satoshi Nakamoto can be loosely interpreted as something that pertains to a highly organized and intelligent agency, but the name could also have chosen simply because it has a nice ring to it. And would the NSA really have given the creator of its ‘secret project’ such an obvious name? If the NSA really is behind Bitcoin, naming it “Central Intelligence” would not be a very intelligent move.

Claims that the NSA created Bitcoin have actually been flung around for years. People have questioned why it uses the SHA-256 hash function, which was designed by the NSA and published by the National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST). The fact that the NSA is tied to SHA-256 leads some to assume it’s created a backdoor to the hash function that no one has ever identified, which allows it to spy on Bitcoin users.

“If you assume that the NSA did something to SHA-256, which no outside researcher has detected, what you get is the ability, with credible and detectable action, they would be able to forge transactions. The really scary thing is somebody finds a way to find collisions in SHA-256 really fast without brute-forcing it or using lots of hardware and then they take control of the network,” cryptography researcher Matthew D. Green of Johns Hopkins University said in a previous interview.

photo credit: ElectronicFrontierFoundation via photopin cc

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