The most recent episodes of Laura Shin’s Unchained podcast (February 24, 25, and March 1) have all gone into deeper detail about the Ethereum DAO hack, with additional discussion and speculation on how and why the hacker was eventually discovered.
In an episode that does not contain Shin, an early Ethereum testnet known as Morden is mentioned as potentially essential to the inquiry, while Chainalysis’s alleged ability is viewed with skepticism.
As previously reported, podcaster Shin recently revealed that former TenX CEO Toby Hoenisch was most likely the perpetrator of the breach. Shin claims she came up with the term with the help of “a powerful and hitherto hidden forensics tool” from Chainalysis.
Shin used this technology to decipher bitcoin transactions that their suspected hacker had tried to anonymize using the privacy-focused Wasabi Wallet. Shapeshift had linked the bitcoin to the stolen Ethereum.
Dragonfly Capital’s managing partner, Haseeb Qureshi, has his own take on the Chainalysis storyline.
What is the purpose of the request for Morden data?
“I was a little skeptical of this story,” he admitted. “Is it as simple as Chainalysis having a magical means of unmixing Wasabi transactions?” Maybe it’s true – but it seems more likely that they didn’t have a large anonymity set and merely hunted down everything in the set.”
Tarun Chitra, the founder of Gauntlet, had a different point of view. “If you were in Ethereum at the time, there was this very early testnet called the Morden testnet that I’m sure 90% of people have never heard of.” It no longer exists in any meaningful sense. If you were paying attention on Twitter five or six months ago, Laura and a few others were asking, “Hey, does anyone have an archived copy of the Morden testnet?”
Chitra was perplexed by the request for Morden data because the testnet had ceased to exist after Ethereum forked following the DAO theft.
“It was very specific people related to the Ethereum Foundation plus Laura, and the clustering was quite strange to me… “The Morden testnet was the major deal,” Chitra explained.
Chitra believes that finding the Morden testnet could be crucial to the investigation. On-chain analysis techniques that weren’t available in 2016 could have been used on the dormant testnet, which is why Shin and others close to the Ethereum Foundation were so eager to locate it.
Shin’s new book, The Cryptopians, delves deeper into the Ethereum DAO attack. According to Shin, the breach and its aftermath lasted for around two months. Despite this, the significance of the event in Ethereum’s history is so great that she devotes a third of her book on it. For the time being, it appears that the commercially focused Shin is instructing her guests not to reveal too many spoilers.