Congratulations Bitcoin Bounty Hunters! The World’s First Blockchain Investigation Contest.

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While AnChain’s own Dr. Victor Fang delivered his keynote presentation at DEF CON 28’s Blockchain Village on August 8th, it wouldn’t be a proper DEF CON experience without a challenge to go along with it.

The AnChain.AI team is proud to announce the successful conclusion of the world’s first blockchain investigation contest: Bitcoin Bounty Hunters. We’re committed to democratizing blockchain investigation, and we couldn’t be more thankful to the incredibly diverse pool of over 100 participants from DEF CON, Blockchain Village, and beyond!

I really enjoyed using the CISO tool to visualize the network like this! It made examining and tracing transactions a breeze. I liked how the questions increased in difficulty, forcing you to probe deeper into the network.

— Max David, Bitcoin Bounty Hunters 1st Prize Winner

Prizes:

Our top-scoring crypto investigators took home over $1000 in Bitcoin prizes ,in a fierce competition that saw passionate blockchain sleuths of all levels of experience tracing, tracking, and mapping illicit crypto funds tied to two of the most iconic security breaches in recent times:

The July 15th, 2020 Tax Day Twitter Hack, which our team had been instrumental in investigating earlier this year, and the infamous WannaCry Ransomware incidents.

“Hunting down real world threat actors on the blockchain with a clock
ticking before the contest ends was a real thrill!”

— _iphelix, Bitcoin Bounty Hunters 2nd Prize Winner

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In an incredibly close finish that included a tie for third place, four crypto detectives took home their well-deserved prizes!

1st Place ($512 in BTC): Max David @pipecork

2nd Place ($256 in BTC): iphelix @_iphelix

3rd Place ($128 in BTC): hacking.believe @razzor_tweet

3rd Place ($128 in BTC): guillaez Joon-Woo Choi

From seasoned professionals to first-time investigators, our competitors produced some truly stunning investigations. While we designed CISO with intuitive interface and AI-powered intelligence in mind, even we couldn’t have predicted how quickly our competitors would pick up on using the tool.

It’s no exaggeration to say that our deserving winners created striking visualizations of these historic hacking events, presenting them like they’ve never been presented before

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Honestly, this investigation, and using the CISO tool, was a completely new experience for me. It was really easy to pick up and use. The addition of a timeline is huge, and the ability to individually select sender and receiver addresses makes it much easier to organize extremely large datasets.

— hacking.believe, Bitcoin Bounty Hunters 3rd Prize Winner

An Interview With the Grand Prize Winner

Steven Yang, organizer of the AnChain.AI Contest Committee, sat down for a brief interview with our Grand Prize winner, Max David.

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Q: Tell us a little bit about yourself. What sort of professional or educational background do you have?

A. Hey, I’m Max. I’m actually a professional bartender by trade, but an avid fan of blockchain and security on the side. I just finished my undergrad this spring and 2020 has been an interesting year to start the job search! Good thing for challenges like this to keep things entertaining.

Q: What is your experience with this type of investigation?

A: I’ve competed in CTF competitions on the side for years, and some of the more unique challenges I’ve tried have been investigation style challenges. The AnChain.AI Bitcoin Bounty looked like a real fun way to spend some time in between the other events at DEFCON and the Blockchain Village, and I’m glad I gave it a shot!

Q: What’s the most interesting thing you uncovered over the course of your participation in the contest?

A: Before this investigation, I’d heard about mixers, peer-to-peer, and currency exchange methods that hackers use to launder stolen cryptocurrency. I think the most interesting thing I saw was the differences in technique each hack used to throw investigators off the trail of following the coins through the network. The events were only three years apart, but the graphs were remarkably different.

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Q: What additions would you like to see to future competitions?

A: I really enjoyed using the CISO tool to visualize the network like this! It made examining and tracing transactions a breeze. I liked how the questions increased in difficulty, forcing you to probe deeper into the network. Next time I’d love to see even more educational materials on how to use the tool to its fullest extent. Also, when doing research I saw very little information or guides on how to spot suspicious activity. Identifying some mixers can be easy, but others get a little more clever.

More To Come

We never anticipated that our first competition would prove to be such a success, and the community feedback has been great for improving our product!

The AnChain.AI team plans to make competitions like this, community events, and more a regular fixture! Our contest committee would love to hear the community’s ideas for blockchain investigation topics.

For all of our wonderful competitors, we hope you join us again next time, and for those who missed out on Bitcoin Bounty Hunters, we can’t wait to see you don your detective caps as well!

Stay tuned for our next contest on Twitter @AnChainAI or our newsletter at anchain.ai/subscribe

Written by

Blockchain data analytics firm providing security, risk, and compliance solutions.

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