We learned it barely a few hours ago : FBI arrest of a young and brilliant developer of the Ethereum Foundation by the name of Virgil Griffith. So far nothing worth raising more than an eyebrow puzzled at this announcement. But that was without counting the accumulation of ingredients quickly placing this dossier halfway between the tragic and the comic, mixing blockchain, espionage against a backdrop of paranoid dictatorship.
It therefore remained to try to find out more about the main suspect in this event: the good Virgil Griffith. So, eccentric, recruit of Kim Jong Un’s services or just born under the sign of the moldy ascending Fish?
From “Buzz” (card) to WikiScanner
So it’s Birmingham in the sweet land of Alabama (yes “Sweet home Alabama” in English, it is easy I know but at my age what do you want …), that was born on March 6, 1983 (under the sign of the fish therefore) the name Virgil Griffith.
After studying in Alabama and graduating fromAlabama School of Mathematics and Sciences in 2002 he pursues a university course which, will be strewn with some “anecdotes” who already draw an unusual personality.
So, when he first tried his hand at a university course in cognitive science, he met, in 2002 at Interz0ne in Atlanta convention hacking, the named Billy hoffman, Georgia Tech student, discovered a security breach in the campus magnetic identity card system called “BuzzCard “And marketed by the company Blackboard (the article of the time is here). They will try in April 2003, during the next convention, to make a presentation of the flaws of which they had deepened the study but will be politely given an injunction to do nothing by the lawyers of Blackboard
Two days later, it will even be followed by a summons summons alleging that the two dashing students had stolen trade secrets and violated the Digital Millennium Copyright Act and the Economic Espionage Act. This case will finally find an amicable settlement (which is here) between the parties in July 2003.
On August 14, 2007, the friend Griffith alias “Romanpoet “On the web, launches utility software, WikiScanner (which will disappear in 2011). This tool allowed track changes to Wikipedia articles from unregistered accounts to their original IP address and identify the companies or organizations to which they belonged.
According to BBC, WikiScanner has revealed that some of the changes to Wikipedia come from computers belonging to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, to the CIA, at Vatican among others. The very British and serious The Times also informed that the same BBC internet address had over 7,000 changes, one of which consisted in changing the middle name of Georges W Bush to say that the W meant wanker, that is to say “wanker” in English (some other jokes of the genre here and on the Griffith site ).
Tor2web, engagement and crypto
In 2008, Griffith designed with Aaron Swartz (computer scientist, writer, political activist and hacktivist American who will die on January 11, 2013 at the age of 26) the proxy Tor2web.
Taking more and more to heart his commitment to the free he wrote in 2016 a critical article with the catchy title to say the least: “Tor’s Branding Pivot is Going to Get Someone Killed” (“The pivotal branding of Tor will kill someone”) and in which he asks the following question: Before 2023, will a Tor user or operator be convicted of a crime related to human rights? man or imprisoned because of the Tor pivot? Probably. (the entire article).
From 2014, he became more actively involved in the cryptocurrencies and declares on its site:
“ In 2014, I was project manager (Technical Product Manager) within the Toroken project which aimed to set up a cryptocurrency based reward for running a Tor node. It was an extension of a long line of research by Rob Jansen. In motivating the Toroken incentive, I also wrote a Tor Tech Report that outlines Tor growth rates and how to improve them. ”
Beyond the slightly outrageous image retarded teen geek, Virgil has nevertheless embarked on the path of hacktivism and no doubt his collaboration with Aaron Swartz has something to do with it. He says it himself: “My goal is to expose corruption, the abuse of power and without wearing gloves to make sure that the digital age does not become a digital dystopia.” As for how he ended up in the North Korean galley, only the future and the investigators will tell.
 Toroken: A mining-type project with bitcoin-like rewards designed to improve speed and anonymity on Tor. The project link is here.
Fallen into blockchain and crypto late, I am certain however that I am still one of the early adopters!
Analyst in the field of IT security, I refine my knowledge in the field of development and cybersecurity. Find me on LinkedIn