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Monero uses a public ledger to record transactions while new units are created through a process called mining. Monero aims to improve on existing cryptocurrency design by obscuring sender, recipient and amount of every transaction made as well as making the mining process more egalitarian. The focus on privacy has attracted illicit use by people interested in evading law enforcement. Unlike many cryptocurrencies that are derivatives of Bitcoin, Monero is based on the CryptoNight proof-of-work hash algorithm , which comes from the CryptoNote protocol.
This makes Monero different from public-ledger cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin , where addresses with coins previously associated with undesired activity can be blacklisted and have their coins refused by other users. In particular, the ring signatures mix the spender's input with a group of others, making it exponentially more difficult to establish a link between each subsequent transaction. Finally, the "ring confidential transactions" mechanism hides the transferred amount. Monero is designed to be resistant to application-specific integrated circuit mining, which is commonly used to mine other cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin.
The underlying CryptoNote protocol that Monero is based on was originally launched by pseudonymous author Nicolas van Saberhagen in October In September , Monero was attacked when an unknown party exploited a flaw in CryptoNote that permitted the creation of two subchains that refused to recognize the validity of transactions on each other.
CryptoNote later released a patch for the flaw, which Monero implemented. Monero experienced rapid growth in market capitalization and transaction volume during the year , partly due to adoption in by major darknet market AlphaBay ,  which was closed in July by law enforcement. On January 10, , the privacy of Monero transactions were further strengthened by the adoption of Bitcoin Core developer Gregory Maxwell's algorithm Confidential Transactions , hiding the amounts being transacted, in combination with an improved version of Ring Signatures.
In April research highlighted three major threats to Monero user's privacy. The first relies on leveraging the ring signature size of zero, and ability to see the output amounts. Finally the third threat, "Temporal Analysis", shows that predicting the right output in a ring signature is easier than previously thought. Monero development team addressed the first concern in early with introduction of Ring Confidential Transactions ringCT  as well as mandating a minimum size of ring signatures in the March protocol upgrade.
Monero developers also noted that Monero Research Labs, their academic and research arm, already noted and outlined the deficiency in two public research papers in and A user needs client software, a so-called wallet , to interact with the Monero network.
The Monero Project produces the reference implementation of a Monero wallet and there are also third party implementations of Monero clients exist such as Monerujo  and Cakewallet  which also make it possible to use Monero on Android and iOS. Finally, a web wallet allows users to interact with the network entirely through the browser using a third party website. The feasibility of CPU mining Monero has made it viable for malicious actors to covertly distribute miners embedded in malware, using the victim's hardware and electricity for the financial gain of the malware developer as well as legitimate uses with user consent.
Monero is sometimes employed by Bitcoin users to break link between transactions, with bitcoins first converted to Monero, then after some delay, converted back and sent to an address unrelated to those used before. It is also the preferred payment method of choice for The Shadow Brokers.
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