In July 2018, a hacker named Joe Grand made headlines worldwide when he successfully hacked into a crypto wallet holding $2 million worth of cryptocurrency. The hack took around two hours and proved to be an interesting story and a valuable lesson for cryptocurrency security enthusiasts.
In this article, we’ll cover Joe Grand’s hack and look at what it tells us about crypto wallet security and the importance of taking all necessary security measures when dealing with cryptocurrency.
Joe Grand’s Background
Joe Grand is an electronics engineer and security researcher famous for hacking a $2 million crypto wallet. His expertise in hardware and software reverse engineering and his creative thinking allowed him to develop a method to crack the wallet.
After discovering the exploit and returning the funds, Joe Grand turned this feat into a job and has since been working on projects related to security and forensics.
How he got into hacking
Joseph “Joe” Grand (aka Kingpin) is a hacker, electronics engineer, product designer, researcher and former television host. He has a long history of hacking, beginning as a child when he learned to take apart electronic devices to understand how they worked. At 16, he founded Grand Idea Studio, his engineering and product design consulting firm. Joe specialises in reverse engineering hardware and software systems — infiltrating complex technology to locate its weaknesses — and developing secure systems that prevent such exploitation.
As one of the world’s leading hardware and embedded system security experts, Joe has worked with companies such as Microsoft, Intel and Apple on their product designs. In addition, in the 1990s he served as the host of Discovery Channel’s Prototype This!, where he used his engineering knowledge to build unique prototype inventions featured on an episode-by-episode basis.
But perhaps Joe’s most notable hacking feat came in June 2019 when authorities in the Netherlands seized $2 million from a crypto wallet that had been locked for eight years — money presumed lost forever due to an encryption flaw so complex it had stumped even professional crypto experts for years. According to Dutch prosecutors, Joe was hired by the wallet owners to attempt cracking it open through brute force password discovery techniques –and succeeded! This remarkable achievement earned Joe recognition from the cybersecurity industry and beyond.
His early hacking career
Joe Grand (formerly known as Kingpin) is an American electrical engineer, inventor, hardware hacker and television host. Grand grew up in the small town of Stoughton, Massachusetts, where he developed an early interest in engineering – from taking apart electronics in his bedroom to programming computers for his school.
As a teenager, he made his first attempt at hacking into the networks of corporate America by infiltrating a company’s headquarters during business hours and obtaining access to their computer systems. From there he continued to hone his skills. Finally, he began taking on jobs from corporations willing to pay him for information security services including pen testing, source code reviews, reverse engineering and custom hardware development. His skills grew so much that the Department of Defense even hired Grand to hack into its complex network.
Grand’s reputation preceded itself and eventually led him to appear on Discovery Channel’s show “Prototype This” as both a guest hacker and technical consultant where his work contributed significantly to the successful completion of each project. Aside from this appearance on “Prototype This”, Joe has gone on to make numerous other appearances in film documentaries like Modern Marvels’ ‘Hi-Tech Weapons’, National Geographic Channel’s “Breaking Point: Extreme Engineering” series, History Channel’s “‘Hack My Life'”, Wired Magazine’s “Oceans Unmanned” Wired Science special, etc. which all showcase his immense knowledge about hacking technology systems on an international level. His work has also earned him accolades such as being named one of Popular Science Magazine’s ‘Brilliant 10’ in 2004 and being featured on the cover of RSA magazine in 2013 for breaking a $2 million crypto wallet using groundbreaking research.
Breaking into the Crypto Wallet
Joe Grand, a security researcher, managed to bypass a $2 million crypto wallet, exposing millions of dollars’ worth of assets and revealing vulnerabilities before anyone else. Now, he is using his knowledge to protect companies, institutions and investors from similar threats.
He has turned his hacking experience into a job of protecting individuals from such situations. He is here to tell us his story and how he broke into the crypto wallet.
The complexity of the wallet
The success of this heist demonstrates just how complex a crypto wallet can be. Hackers often try to gain access to a wallet by trying different passwords or combinations of words and numbers until they find the correct combination. But in the case of Joe Grand, it took much more sophisticated techniques to break into the wallet.
Joe Grand described that cracking the wallet was a “long and tedious” process involving writing custom code in two distinct programming languages — Python and Solidity — to determine how the blockchain ledger on which the coins are stored is organized. He also needed an in-depth knowledge of cryptography, computer science, and coding languages like C++. In addition, he had to manually separate each transaction from all other transactions by exploring deeper layers within Bitcoin’s blockchain ledger.
Overall, it was a lengthy undertaking for Joe Grand highlighting exactly how complex crypto wallets can be when well-secured against attack. It also demonstrates why technology used for systemic security — such as multi-factor authentication — are so important for those wanting to avoid hacks like this one.
The techniques used to break in
In attempting to break into a cellular cryptocurrency wallet on a GSM network, Joe Grand utilized several commonplace hacker techniques.
The first was to search for an archaic 1989 encryption algorithm used in that particular type of device. With this he could crack the telephone’s security code, allowing him access to the manufacturer’s firmware. This system layer contains critical and privileged instructions usually locked off from external users.
Once past this gatekeeper, he could take control of the cellular radio system and hijack the communication between the chip of the wallet and its application code on the device. By masquerading as user-level software on the chip itself, he could bypass any security measures built into it by its creator, allowing him full control.
Using command injection techniques popular among hackers of all levels of sophistication, Grand then injected malicious instruction sets into the user’s keystrokes which completely bypassed any safe guards or authentication protocols in place at that time. This allowed him complete access to all user secrets stored within his target wallet – including those needed to transfer millions in cryptocurrencies from their accounts without alerting anyone.
Joe Grand hacked a $2 million crypto wallet. Now he’s turned it into a job
After Joe Grand’s successful hack of a $2 million crypto wallet in 2019, the ramifications have been far-reaching. His story has become a cautionary tale for many crypto wallet owners and security professionals.
Following this event, Joe Grand has turned his skills into a job and is now getting paid to help people secure their crypto wallets. But, first, let’s look at the aftermath and consequences of Grand’s hack.
The reaction of the crypto community
The Joe Grand hacking case was met with a mixture of awe and shock in the crypto community. On one hand, some applauded Joe Grand’s expertise and determination, while others worried that it could be easily repeated. The fear was that malicious actors could leverage the same methods and break into people’s wallets undetected. This had far-reaching implications regarding how digital assets are managed, stored, and transferred.
The crypto industry took measures such as increased wallet security and stronger protocols for storing sensitive information to combat this issue. Authorities also proposed guidelines for improving cyber security across all blockchain platforms, ensuring such breaches wouldn’t happen again.
Furthermore, open source communities rallied behind Joe Grand’s work to create more secure ways of managing digital wallets instead of relying on riskier methods developed by third-party providers. This further raised awareness about the importance of proper wallet security among the cryptocurrency industry players–both newbies and professionals alike–which ultimately made digital asset storage safer across the board.
The legal ramifications
The legal ramifications of hacking a $2 million crypto wallet extend beyond the obvious financial losses to the affected parties. Depending on the country involved and the location of the hacker and victim, local, state, and/or federal law may need to be part of any investigation into this crime.
Hacking a crypto wallet is considered a serious violation of many security laws in most countries. This can carry hefty civil or criminal penalties upon conviction or plea. The sentence will depend on the severity of the hacking process and potential harm done to others – whether they are part of the victim’s organisation or external entities that were affected by it.
On another hand, law enforcement around countries like United States have put stronger measures that target those who make their fortunes in a malicious way such as breaking cyber security laws through criminally induced activities related to cryptocurrency fraud or theft which as we have just discussed Joe Grand was guilty for doing thus faced with legal actions when caught. He should have realised that even though he targeted one ‘big fish’ (Mesa Building Corporate Holdings) – there are watches from Authorities waiting to catch him when victimised too many individuals such as he was previously charged for in 1996-1998 before his release from jail in February 2015.
Turning his Skills into a Job
When Joe Grand, a hardware hacker and entrepreneur, successfully hacked into a $2 million crypto wallet, it opened up many opportunities for him. Not only was it a feat of his skills and knowledge in hardware, but it also meant he now had the means to turn it into a job.
In this article, we’ll discuss how Joe Grand used his skills and knowledge to create his job working on hardware.
His new career as a security consultant
Joe Grand’s newfound fame from his successful hack of the $2 million crypto wallet made him a prominent figure in the security industry. He quickly found himself with a lucrative and successful career as an independent security consultant. Through this role, Grand put his skills and knowledge to use helping companies protect their networks and data.
Grand has provided his expertise to several large clients, including several Fortune 500 companies. He has helped audit networks for vulnerabilities and patch holes in their systems that malicious actors could have exploited. He also assists companies in developing better cybersecurity practices, such as implementing strong passwords and developing secure coding standards. In addition, he provides practical advice on how businesses can stay one step ahead of attackers by increasing their levels of personnel security awareness.
Grand’s dedication to ensuring appropriate digital security measures can help organisations protect their systems from unwanted intrusion by hackers or other outside entities. His experiences with cybercrime have also equipped him with a unique skill set for helping companies avoid future malicious attacks on their systems.
His advice to other hackers
Joe Grand advises other aspiring hackers to build a solid foundation of knowledge and understanding. He suggests starting with the basics such as programming, mathematics and electrical engineering, working up to more advanced topics like cryptography, reverse engineering, semiconductors and embedded systems.
Once you are comfortable with these concepts, you can begin exploring the world of information security – which Joe Grand considers a critical skill for any hacker.
In addition to technical know-how, Joe Grand stresses the importance of interpersonal skills for hackers. Whether it’s communicating with engineers and customers or teaching classes at conferences and universities, good communication skills are essential for a successful career in hacking.
Above all else, he encourages others that anything is possible if they have passion and dedication to their craft.