Rapture #147: Was The DAO Hacker Found?

Rapture #147: Was The DAO Hacker Found?

The past 24 hours have been fascinating for a multitude of reasons. Probably one of the most longstanding independent journalists in crypto, Laura Shin, released her new book The Cryptopians. The book largely covers crypto events across 2016 - 2017. While I have not yet had a chance to read the book, rumors are that the coverage does not paint Joe Lubin in the most attractive light (i.e. goes with the arch capitalist narrative) and far more critically covers the activities of the industry in 2017.

Yet the most focused on topic at book release, and the one that inevitably will drive sales, is that Laura claims to have found the identity of the 2016 The DAO hacker. To go alongside the release of the book, Laura published a Forbes article delving into some of the details, with even more information of course being examined in her book (terrific marketing!)

So, let's check out what the Forbes article says.

The Accusation

Based on the research done for The Cryptopians, Laura Shin and her team believes that Toby Hoenisch, a 36 year older hacker, exploited The DAO. Toby historically has been best known for raising $80 million in an ICO during the 2017 craze for the project TenX, which was project that was either abandoned quickly or failed. Interestingly, in 2016 Toby was one of the individuals identifying vulnerabilities in The DAOs infrastructure.

The Discovery

So, how exactly did Laura gather enough evidence to make such a serious accusation against Toby? Laura actually discovered that ChainAnalysis had a new capability of demixing transactions that went through the coinmixer Wasabi, a stunning revelation that indicates a breakthrough in on-chain forensics which will have serious implications for the entire industry.

The tracking of these transactions linked to the DAO hack eventually led to an address that had Toby's name associated with it.  

In addition to the on-chain forensics utilized, Laura Shin also compiled a substantial amount of circumstantial evidence based on emails and posts. All of the details of this information can be found in her article. Finally, there is also circumstantial evidence presented from people who closely worked with Toby during that time that seemingly confirmed his intent to exploit the DAO.


While all of the drama around the circumstantial evidence and the headlines of finally discovering who the DAO hacker was does indeed have sex appeal, the biggest nugget in all of this information is that blockchain forensic firms like Chain Analysis have developed new tools to bring transparency into mixers.

The implications of these tools is massive, considering billions of dollars worth of crypto have been stolen over the years, with the culprits often going through mixers in order to hide their tracks. Furthermore, it means that law enforcement agencies will likely have far more tools to catch tax evaders.


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