Cryptography Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for software developers, mathematicians and others interested in cryptography. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

I'm trying to understand if the feature "Hierarchical Deterministic Wallets" in Bitcoin allows for complete privacy of all derived keys, and if any of those keys can be associated with each other after they are generated.

Knowing the answer to this will greatly impact the scenarios these keys are usable in.

share|improve this question

I recently came across a paper that may interest you that I think answers your question. To quote from the abstract:

Unfortunately, in all existing HD wallets---including BIP32 wallets---an attacker can easily recover the master private key given the master public key and any child private key. This vulnerability precludes use cases such as a combined treasurer-auditor, and some in the Bitcoin community have suspected that this vulnerability cannot be avoided.

Combine this with the fact that child private keys are generated from the master private key, and it appears the answer to your question is no, they do not offer complete privacy.

share|improve this answer
In normal use the master public key is not shared. So while this is important to remember for some of the more eclectic uses of HD wallets, it doesn't apply to 99% of usage. – eMansipater Mar 5 '15 at 22:04

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.