What is dust attack?
Dust attack is an attack in which a trace amount of crypto, called dust transaction, is sent to thousands — sometimes even hundreds of thousands — of wallet addresses. This attack is deployed in order to track these addresses with the hope of “un-masking” or de-anonymizing them. Dust is found on most public blockchains, including Bitcoin, Litecoin, Bitcoin Cash, and Shiba Inu, etc…
Who Would Perform A Dusting Attack?
There are a number of groups that perform dusting attacks. Criminals have used dust attacks to de-anonymize those with large amount holdings. Those with large holdings can be targeted in a number of ways.
Holders with large crypto holdings in high-risk areas could also be physically targeted, or even have a family member kidnapped for cryptocurrency ransom.
Importantly, the person or group that executes the dusting attack and the party that analyzes the results don’t need to be the same.
Because it’s on the blockchain, anyone with the skills, tools, and time can analyze the crypto dust after an attack.
A criminal organization could study a government’s dusting, or a blockchain analytics firm could study a malicious actor’s dusting.
For this reason, not all dust attacks are considered “attacks.”
The mass spreading of dust has also been used to advertise to cryptocurrency users, primarily by sending out messages included in the crypto dust, comparable to an email blast.
You may know that the genesis block of Bitcoin (the first block of bitcoin ever mined) included a message.
These mass dustings may also be used as stress tests, where a large amount of crypto dust is sent in a short amount of time to test the throughput, or bandwidth, of a network. Dustings are also sometimes used as a way to spam a network, by sending huge batches of worthless transactions that clog and slow it down considerably. Whatever the intended purpose, mass dustings can be analyzed for various purposes, both good or bad
How Much Will Dust Cost
The fees associated with dust attacks are often more than the amount of dust spent. Even though the cryptdust of thousands of wallets may not be significant, attackers still have to pay network fees to deploy an attack. As fees have gone up on the Bitcoin blockchain, bitcoin dust attacks seem to have waned in popularity.