Is the Apollo cryptocurrency private? Jelurida claims otherwise

In a recent blog post, Jelurida - the team behind Ardor and Nxt - explained how it found out that Apollo's privacy features are not so private after all

While I was browsing Twitter for news the other day, I found a rather interesting post from the Ardor community.

Apparently, after a tweet from the one and only John McAfee highlighting the awesome privacy properties of the Apollo coin, Jelurida – the team behind Ardor and Nxt – decided to call out the project for promoting incorrect features and capabilities.

In a recent blog post, Jelurida explained how the team found out that the so-called privacy features promoted by Apollo are not so private after all.

If one can track transactions, amounts, and addresses, then where’s the privacy?

Apollo’s working mechanics

Apollo’s selling point is quite straightforward: it claims to be the best cryptocurrency out there (although nobody knows how the company has come to this conclusion).

As stated on Apollo’s website: “Cryptocurrency is inaccessible to the majority of the world as it requires a bank account, computer, knowledge. and patience.” The company’s solution to this barrier is to initiate a decentralised network of physical locations, allowing anyone to walk in and purchase Apollo easily with cash. This will open up cryptocurrency to the vast majority of people without a bank account.

The Apollo team wants to basically create small exchange-like stores where people convert fiat to Apollo, and from there convert Apollo to other cryptocurrencies. Why you would need a specific coin for that instead of using Bitcoin or any other major coin is beyond my understanding. Maybe to fund the project? I really don’t know.

Apollo also claims that the coin uses a mixer to enable IP masking and public-private transaction options.

Jelurida’s findings

In the recent blog post, which can be found here, Jelurida explained how some of the privacy features promoted by Apollo did not provide users with privacy:

“After a close examination of the Apollo software, we feel it is necessary to issue a public warning in order to prevent Nxt users who have accounts on the Apollo blockchain from being misled that the Apollo private transaction feature actually works, and wrongly assume that their transactions cannot be seen by others. The reality is that all transactions on their blockchain, regardless of being labeled private or not, are easily accessible to anyone who downloads the Apollo blockchain, now, and forever in the future, due to the immutable nature of the blockchain.”

To prove their point, the team built the “snake-oil” project, which is a modified version of the Nxt Blockchain Creation Kit Software adapted to connect to the Apollo blockchain and display all transactions from it, ignoring any misleading “private” flags.

“Transactions are propagated over the network in clear text, stored in the database in clear text, and handled in the server memory again in clear text. Since the blockchain is an immutable ledger, these “private” transactions are stored in it forever, and anyone can extract them from it, now or in the future, as hereby demonstrated.”

Is Jelurida right?

After looking into the matter, I believe Jelurida is making an effort to undermine the efforts of Apollo as the above findings are not accurate. Apollo fixed the issues it was facing and it’s now releasing the company’s very first sharding implementation.

Stay tuned to Coin Rivet later this week when I speak to Apollo founder Steve McCullah about Jelurida’s claims and the future of the project.

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