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MT2AD: multi-layer temporal transaction anomaly detection in ethereum networks with GNN

In recent years, a surge of criminal activities with cross-cryptocurrency trades have emerged in Ethereum, the second-largest public blockchain platform. Most of the existing anomaly detection methods utilize the traditional machine learning with feature engineering or graph representation learning technique to capture the information in transaction network. However, these methods either ignore the timestamp information and the transaction flow direction information in transaction network or only consider single transaction network, the cross-cryptocurrency trading patterns in Ethereum are usually ignored. In this paper, we introduce a Multi-layer Temporal Transaction Anomaly Detection (MT2AD) model in Ethereum network with graph neural network. Specifically, for a given Ethereum token transaction network, we first extract its initial features including the structure subgraph and edge’s feature. Then, we model the temporal information in subgraph as a series of network snapshots according to the timestamp on each edge and time window. To capture the cross-cryptocurrency trading patterns, we combine the snapshots from multiple token transactions at a given timestamp, and we consider it as a new combined graph. We further use the graph convolution encoder with attention mechanism and pooling operation on this new graph to obtain the graphlevel embedding, and we transform the anomaly detection on dynamic multi-layer Ethereum transaction networks as a graph classification task with these graph-level embeddings. MT2AD can integrate the transaction structure feature, edge’s feature and cross-cryptocurrency trading patterns into a framework to perform the anomaly detection with graph neural networks. Experiments on three real-world multi-layer transaction networks show that the proposed MT2AD (0.8789 Precision, 0.9375 Recall, 0.4987 FbMacro and 0.9351 FbWeighted) can achieve the best performance on most evaluation metrics in comparison with some competing approaches, and the effectiveness in consideration of multiple tokens is also demonstrated.