How to turn Bitcoin code into a Ben Bernanke portrait

image

 

Earlier this week I caught wind of a BitcoinTalk thread about coded messages in Bitcoin’s blockchain. How does that even work? I wondered. 

Many hours of technical geekery later, I had my head around the basics. For those who want to play along at home, here’s how you can de-code the messages hackers and pranksters have intentionally hidden in the Bitcoin chain. For my working test, I used Dan Kaminsky’s 2011 hack, when he embedded a tribute to his friend Len Sassaman in the blockchain.

First, I pulled up a record of the actual transaction Kaminsky made, as identified here in a BitcoinTalk thread. I used the raw transaction view so I could easily look at all the hashes at once.

I used a text editor to strip out all the extraneous stuff and get down to just the hex code. (I did it by hand. Not recommended.) That gives you this:

 

2d2d2d424547494e20545249425554452d2d2d20

232e2f4269744c656e2020202020202020202020

3a3a3a3a3a3a3a3a3a3a3a3a3a3a3a3a3a3a3a20

3a3a3a3a3a3a3a2e3a3a2e3a3a2e3a2e3a3a3a20

3a2e3a203a2e272027202720272027203a203a20

3a2e3a2727202c2c7869572c2234782c20272720

3a20202c6457575758585858692c3457582c2020

2720645757575858583722202020202060582c20

206c5757575858372020205f5f2020205f205820

3a575757585837202c785858372720225e5e5820

6c57575758372c205f2e2b2c2c205f2e2b2e2c20

3a575757372c2e20605e222d22202c5e2d272020

205757222c583a2020202020202020582c202020

2022375e5e586c2e202020205f285f7837272020

206c2028203a583a202020202020205f5f205f20

20602e202220585820202c787857575757583720

202029582d20222220345822202e5f5f5f2e2020

2c57205820202020203a586920205f2c2c5f2020

5757205820202020202034586979585757586420

2222202c2c202020202020345857575757585820

2c205237582c20202020202020225e3434375e20

522c20223452586b2c2020202020205f2c202c20

54576b20202234525858692c20202058272c7820

6c54576b2c202022345252523727203420584820

3a6c5757576b2c20205e22202020202060342020

3a3a5454585757692c5f2020586c6c203a2e2e20

3d2d3d2d3d2d3d2d3d2d3d2d3d2d3d2d3d2d3d20

4c454e20227261626269222053415353414d4120

2020202020313938302d32303131202020202020

4c656e20776173206f757220667269656e642e20

41206272696c6c69616e74206d696e642c202020

61206b696e6420736f756c2c20616e6420202020

6120646576696f757320736368656d65723b2020

68757362616e6420746f204d6572656469746820

62726f7468657220746f2043616c76696e2c2020

736f6e20746f204a696d20616e64202020202020

44616e61204861727473686f726e2c2020202020

636f617574686f7220616e642020202020202020

636f666f756e64657220616e6420202020202020

53686d6f6f20616e6420736f206d756368202020

6d6f72652e202057652064656469636174652020

746869732073696c6c79206861636b20746f2020

4c656e2c2077686f20776f756c64206861766520

666f756e64206974206162736f6c7574656c7920

68696c6172696f75732e20202020202020202020

2d2d44616e204b616d696e736b792c2020202020

54726176697320476f6f64737065656420202020

502e532e20204d792061706f6c6f676965732c20

426974436f696e2070656f706c652e2020486520

616c736f20776f756c6420686176652020202020

4c4f4c276420617420426974436f696e27732020

6e657720646570656e64656e63792075706f6e20

2020204153434949204245524e414e4b45202020

3a273a3a2e3a3a3a3a3a2e3a3a3a2e3a3a2e3a20

3a203a2e3a2027202720272027203a203a273a20

3a2e3a20202020205f2e5f5f20202020272e3a20

3a2020205f2c5e22202020225e782c2020203a20

7157d72f88812b481892298cc42830e1ca2532c2

272020783727202020202020202060342c202020

20c2b45e202020202020202020202020205e5e20

2058583720202020202020202020202034585820

2058582020202020202020202020202020585820

20586c202c7878782c2020202c7878782c585820

282027205f2c2b6f2c207c202c6f2b2c22202020

2034202020222d5e27205820225e2d2722203720

206c2c20202020202820292920202020202c5820

203a58782c5f202c7858585878782c5f2c585820

20203458586958272d5f5f5f2d60585858582720

202020345858692c5f2020205f69585837272020

20202c2060345858585858585858585e205f2c20

202058782c202022225e5e5e5858372c78582020

572c22345757782c5f205f2c5878575758372720

5877692c202234575737222234575737272c5720

54585857772c205e3720586b203437202c574820

3a5458585857772c5f2022292c202c7757543a20

3a3a54545858575757206c586c205757543a2020

2d2d2d2d454e4420545249425554452d2d2d2d20

Then I went hunting for a hex-to-text viewer. I found one on String-Functions.com. Plug the hex string in there and hit convert, and you get the text & ASCII art Dan designed.

I used the same method to check this week’s much more serious allegations that someone had used dummy transactions to encode porn links into the blockchain. Using the transactions scintill identified in his technical analysis post, and my same hex-to-text converter, I confirmed that yep, there’s bad things hiding in those bitcoin transactions.

The full list of all the hidden messages in the Bitcoin blockchain is pretty hysterical. “I LIKE TURTLES” is probably my favorite for its sheer randomness, but I also love the back-and-forth tussle with the hacking Christian evangelist. In response to a long, long deluge of religious propaganda (“O my God! I firmly believe that Thou art one God in three Divine persons, …”), people started coding messages barking back at the alleged perpetrator: “FFS Luke-Jr leave the blockchain alone!” -Stacy

  1. migliorifilmcinema reblogged this from cnnmoneytech
  2. journo-geekery reblogged this from cnnmoneytech and added:
    Tumblr fails at in-Dashboard ascii art. Sad, given its own source HTML.
  3. freebitcoinpoker reblogged this from cnnmoneytech
  4. the-21st-hour reblogged this from cnnmoneytech and added:
    Took a while but it’s pretty fun.
  5. ricardocamargo reblogged this from cnnmoneytech and added:
    CNNMoney Tech Tumblr: cómo convertir código de Bitcoin en un retrato de Ben Bernanke