Tired of looking at the boring cryptographs, something might tickle your interest. It turns out that there is an ongoing scavenger hunt for bitcoin. Reports suggest that the hunt commenced only a few days ago and participants are already winning. One ingenious hacker is said to have completed the initial stage.
Satoshi’s Treasure as it’s known is an alternate reality game that urges players to work together and find private keys in hidden real-world locations. Clues are distributed in periodic newsletters for players to find ad crack.
An Inspiration By Ready Player One
The game is an inspiration of the Ready Player One movie which hit the box office last year 2018. The game has a striking resemblance in most features including the leaderboards scoreboard which show which team is closest to collecting the prize money. In total, there are 1000 private key fragments. Once 400 have been found, $1 million of bitcoin is unlocked.
By Monday, April 15th clues are already in circulation with the first three distributed on Blockstream bitcoin satellite earlier the same day. The clues were expected to lead players to discover QR codes buried in different locations in the world like London, China, San Francisco, Uganda, and Australia.
Hacker Finds First Three Keys
Now, as others were globetrotting John Cantrell, one of the participants hacked it instead. He even went ahead and published his method to prove it. In one of his tweets, Cantrell says that he has gone ahead and written an explanation of how he obtained the first three keys in only a few minutes.
Cantrell says he began with the QR codes that had been found and uploaded by a fellow treasure hunter. The first clue wasn’t puzzling, according to Cantrell. Scanning the code sends the player to unlock the key by use of a passphrase included at the same location. That’s for key 1.
As for keys 2 and 3, players would have to wait till April 17th for clues from other cities. But John Cantrell was impatient for that. He continued digging in with the new information in his hands. Cantrell also admits that the knowledge of playing notpron helped him a lot in discovering the keys.
After checking the Satoshi’s treasure sites source code, Cantrell realized something. The next two key’s passwords were encrypted at the source code.
Cantrell says that after he saw the source code, he realized that, because the check on the passphrase was found to be locally done, he could hence brute force via a dictionary attack. It was in the assumption that the passphrase for keys 2 and 3 was in English.
Who Needs Locations When You Have Ruby Scripts
Cantrell used a ruby script to crack the encryption automatically and in the process revealed the word required for the second and third keys. This was a full day before the clues were scheduled to be released .
According to the creators of Satoshi’s Treasure, the whole scenario was intended. Wheatpond’s Dovey Wan says the intention was to test the level of crazy intelligence of people on the internet. In any case, Wan adds that the problem was solved faster and the difficulty levels are now growing.