What You Will Learn
In 2008, an anonymous author, under the pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto, published a white paper outlining a public transaction ledger for a decentralized peer-to-peer payment system entitled Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System, which is regarded as the "birth" of blockchain. Since then, the use of blockchain has evolved beyond its original implementation as a cryptocurrency. It has gained momentum in recent years, being adopted by some of the largest organizations in the world, including IBM, Amazon, PayPal, Mastercard, and Walmart. However, due to the relative newness of blockchain compared to more understood and traditional technologies, its use is still hindered by speculation, confusion, uncertainty, and risk.
In SEC554: Blockchain and Smart Contract Security, you will become familiar with essential topics of blockchain and smart contract technology, including its history, design principles, architecture, business use cases, regulatory environment, and technical specifications. The course takes a detailed look at the mechanics behind the cryptography and the transactions that make blockchain work. It provides exercises that will teach you how to use tools to deploy, audit, scan, and exploit blockchain and smart contract assets. Hands-on labs and exercises will enable you to interact with various blockchain implementations, such as ethereum and bitcoin, and you'll be provided with resources to take with you to further explore.
There have already been widespread security breaches, fraud, and hacks on blockchain platforms, resulting in billions of dollars in losses. These issues, along with growing scrutiny by government agencies to find malicious users abusing the technology, is tarnishing blockchain's reputation. SEC554 approaches blockchain and smart contracts from an offensive perspective to inform students what vulnerabilities exist, how they are exploited, and how to defend against attacks that are currently leveraged today. Some of the skills and techniques you will learn are:
- How to interact with and get data from public blockchains
- How to exploit several types of smart contract vulnerabilities
- How to test and exploit weak cryptography/entropy
- How to discover and re-create private keys
- What cryptojackers do and how to trace and track movements on blockchain
- How to combat non-technical or social engineering types of attacks that adversaries use to access and steal from victims
We can see the many solutions blockchain technology can provide as a payment system, but as the technology is increasingly adopted, its attack surface will continue to grow. While there are some educational resources available for blockchain, there is relatively little educational content around blockchain security. No other training provides the comprehensive level of blockchain testing, exercises and knowledge that is delivered in SEC554.
You Will Be Able To
- Compile and deploy smart contracts
- Exploit vulnerable smart contracts, nodes, and private keys
- Run automated security scans on smart contracts
- Use the latest blockchain tools for development, security, auditing, and exploiting
- Trace and discover blockchain transaction information
- Set up and protect a cryptocurrency wallet
- Crack partially exposed mnemonics keys
- Send transactions to blockchain
- Set up a local ethereum blockchain for testing
- Join a cryptocurrency mining pool, or create your own mining node
- Run static analysis on EVM bytecode
- Interact with cryptocurrency on main and test networks
- Investigate, install, and prevent crypto-jacking malware
- Protect and defend against privacy attacks on blockchain
You Will Receive With This Course
- ZIION blockchain and smart contract testing and development platform
- Access to a full bitcoin testnet node
- Reference documents outlining all the common smart contract vulnerability classes
- Cheat sheet for the most common blockchain CLI tool commands
- 14 labs with custom tools
- Course workbook
Syllabus (18 CPEs)
The first course section begins by establishing the fundamentals of blockchain technology and how it is applied to real-world problems. The most important technical aspects that make up blockchain architecture are discussed, along with examples and case studies. Students will generate public and private key pairs used by blockchain, create different type of cryptocurrency wallets, deep-dive into the different consensus mechanisms that make blockchain a decentralized system, learn how crypto currency mining works, and investigate what happens during transactions. The section will feature scenarios and exercises to send and receive blockchain transactions, and students will see live transactions on the public chain through various block explorers. We'll also look at smart contract technology and walk through examples of how it is applied today in various industries and market use cases.
Lab 1.1: Create a HD Software Wallet
Lab 1.2: Join a Blockchain Mining Pool
Lab 1.3: Blockchain Transaction Analysis
Lab 1.4: Use the Bitcoin-cli to Interact with an API
- What Is Blockchain?
- Definitions and Origins
- Types of Distributed Consensus
- Purposes and Uses Cases
- What Is a Smart Contract?
- Introduction to Smart Contracts
- Smart Contract Use Cases and Platforms
- Keys, Wallets, and Cryptography
- Hashing Functions
- Types of Cryptography
- Mnemonic Keys
- Consensus Mechanisms
- Proof of Work
- Mining - The History and the Process
- Proof of Stake
- Lightning Network
- Blockchain Transactions
- Components of a Transaction
- Block Explorers
- Blockchain Components
- Bitcoin - API, Nodes, and Clients
- Ethereum Architecture
After the technical blockchain fundamentals are established and have become familiar to students, section two of the course builds on that knowledge with a focus on security topics scoped to blockchain systems such as the bitcoin network. Students will learn the security principles that make blockchain different from traditional technology systems, and then begin to discover some of the weaknesses in a blockchain system and how they are attacked. We'll spend time learning and using blockchain security tools that exploit private keys and users, and the common mistakes people make when using them. We'll also take a deep dive on how privacy can be compromised and used by adversaries or government agencies to monitor and identify user activity. Dark net markets have been one of the most notorious uses of cryptocurrencies, and this course section will also provide information on how these markets differ from the normal Internet, why they are used for illegal purposes. We'll also examine privacy crypto like monero, as well as the regulations enforced by agencies to prevent criminal activity. Finally, students will discover and attempt other malicious uses of blockchain, such as crypto-jacking.
Lab 2.1: Exploiting a Private Key Exposure
Lab 2.2: Brute Force a Mnemonic Phrase
Lab 2.3: Cryptominer Malware Agent
Lab 2.4: OSINT to Discover Hidden Bitcoin Funds
- The Bitcoin Network and Security Overview
- Assumptions about Bitcoin Security
- Security Architecture Principles
- Weaknesses and Vulnerabilities
- Network Attacks
- Node Security
- Centralized Integration
- User Security
- Attacks on Private Keys
- BIP-32/BIP-39 and PBKDF2
- Cracking Mnemonics Keys
- Attacks on Privacy
- Blockchain-based Attacks
- Non-Blockchain-based Attacks
- Defenses for Privacy
- Malicious Uses of Blockchain
- Ransomware and Crypto-Lockers
- ICO Scams and Ponzi Schemes
- Regulatory Compliance and Investigation
- The Current Regulatory Environment
- OSINT and Anonymity Issues and Detection
- TOR and Dark Net Markets
The final course section focuses on the security aspects of the most widely used smart contract platform, ethereum. Smart contracts differ in architecture from blockchains such as bitcoin because of their multi-purpose implementations. Developers write smart contracts in languages such as Solidity, which often contain bugs and vulnerabilities. The vulnerabilities can be exploited on the public main-net and cause massive amounts of financial and reputational damage. We'll introduce the ethereum smart contract programming language, Solidity, and examine how to compile, deploy, and interact with smart contracts locally and remotely. Then, after students are familiar with the development process from using tools like Truffle and Ganache, we'll deep-dive into the common ethereum vulnerabilities and walk through case studies of how they have been exploited in the past. Several tools and scanners, such as Slither, Mythril, and Remix, are provided for students to identify and validate these vulnerabilities. Finally, after students learn how to identify a smart contract vulnerability, we'll attack and exploit a custom smart contract on a locally created ethereum network deployed by the students.
Lab 3.1: Create a Private Ethereum Blockchain
Lab 3.2: Compile and Analyze EVM Code
Lab 3.3: Deploy a Smart Contract
Lab 3.4: Vulnerability Scanning a Solidity Project
Lab 3.5: Identifying an Exploit
Lab 3.6: Exploiting a Smart Contract on the Blockchain
- The Smart Contract Lifecycle
- The Architecture and Concepts of Ethereum
- Tools for the Ethereum Blockchain
- Solidity Programming
- Components of a Solidity Smart Contract
- Compiling a Contract
- Deploying a Contract
- Interacting with a Smart Contract
- Smart Contract Vulnerabilities
- Types of Vulnerabilities
- Well-Known Security Failures
- Security Tools for Ethereum Smart Contracts
- Attacking and Exploiting Smart Contracts
- Exploiting Ethereum Smart Contracts
- Case Study: The DAO Hack
- Case Study: The Parity Hack
- Security Best Practices
- The Future of Smart Contracts and Security
Important! Bring your own system configured according to these instructions!
A properly configured system is required to fully participate in this course. These requirements are the mandatory minimums. If you do not carefully read and follow these instructions, you will likely leave the class unsatisfied because you will not be able to participate in hands-on exercises that are essential to this course. We strongly urge you to arrive with a system meeting all the requirements specified for the course.
It is critical that you back-up your system before class. it is also strongly advised that you do not bring a system storing any sensitive data.
System Hardware Requirements
CPU: 64-bit Intel i5/i7 2.0+ GHz processor
Your system's processor must be a 64-bit Intel i5 or i7 2.0 GHz processor or higher. Your CPU and OS must support a 64-bit guest virtual machine.
- VMware provides a free tool for Windows that will detect whether or not your host supports 64-bit guest virtual machines.
- Windows users can use this article to learn more about their CPU and OS capabilities.
- Apple users can use this support page to learn more information about Mac 64-bit capability.
BIOS: Enabled "Intel-VT"
Intel's VT (VT-x) hardware virtualization technology should be enabled in your system's BIOS or UEFI settings. You must be able to access your system's BIOS throughout the class. If your BIOS is password-protected, you must have the password.
USB: USB 3.0 Type-A port
At least one available USB 3.0 Type-A port is required for copying large data files from the USB 3.0 drives we provide in class. The USB port must not be locked in hardware or software. Some newer laptops may have only the smaller Type-C ports. In this case, you will need to bring a USB Type-C to Type-A adapter.
RAM: 8 GB RAM
8 GB RAM is required for the best experience. To verify on Windows 10, press Windows key + "I" to open Settings, then click "System", then "About". Your RAM information will be toward the bottom of the page. To verify on a Mac, click the Apple logo at the top left-hand corner of your display and then click "About this Mac".
Hard Drive Free Space: 40 GB Free space
30 GB of FREE space on the hard drive is critical to host the VMs and additional files we distribute. SSD drives are also highly recommended, as they allow virtual machines to run much faster than mechanical hard drives.
Operating System: Windows 10 Pro or macOS 10.12+
Your system must be running either Windows 10 Pro or macOS 10.12 or higher. Make sure your operating system is fully updated with the correct drivers and patches prior to arriving in class. Note: Apple systems using the M1 processor cannot perform the necessary virtualization at this time and cannot be used for this course.
Additional Hardware Requirements
The requirements below are in addition to baseline requirements provided above. Prior to the start of class, you must install virtualization software and meet additional hardware and software requirements as described below. If you do not carefully read and follow these instructions, you will leave the class unsatisfied because you will not be able to participate in hands-on exercises that are essential to this course.
Network, Wireless Connection: A wireless 802.11 B, G, N, or AC network adapter is required.
A wireless 802.11 B, G, N, or AC network adapter is required. This can be the internal wireless adapter in your system or and external USB wireless adapter. A wireless adapter allows you to connect to the network without any cables. If you can surf the Internet on your system without plugging in a network cable, you have wireless.
Additional Software Requirements
You will need Adobe Acrobat or other PDF reader application.
Chrome Browser: Install Google Chrome
You need the Google Chrome browser installed on your system before you arrive for class. The course exercises have been tested with Chrome and not other browsers. You can download Chrome from here.
If your host computer is running Windows, Credential Guard may interfere with the ability to run VMs. It is important that you start up VMWare prior to class and confirm that virtual machines can run. It is required that Credential Guard is turned off prior to coming to class.
System Configuration Settings
Local Admin: Have an account with local admin privileges
Some of the tools used in the course will require local admin access. This is absolutely required. If your company will not permit this access for the duration of the course, then you should make arrangements to bring a different system.
Disable VPN: Ability to disable your enterprise VPN client temporarily for some exercises
Enterprise VPN clients may interfere with the network configuration required to participate in the class. To avoid any frustration in class, uninstall or disable your enterprise VPN client for the duration of the class. If you keep it installed, make sure that you have the access to disable or uninstall it at class.
Disable AV: Ability to disable your anti-virus tools temporarily for some exercises
You will be required to disable your anti-virus tools temporarily for some exercises, so make sure you have the anti-virus administrator permissions to do so. DO NOT plan on just killing your anti-virus service or processes, because most anti-virus tools still function even when their associated services and processes have been terminated. For many enterprise- managed clients, disabling your anti-virus tool may require a different password than the Administrator account password. Please bring that administrator password for your anti-virus tool.
Disable Firewall: Disable host firewall
You must have the ability to disable the host firewall (Windows firewall or other third-party firewall)
If you have additional questions about the laptop specifications, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
"Blockchain is a revolutionary solution that solves multiple issues inherent in the social, economic, and technological challenges we face today. Decentralization and self-sovereignty are not just concepts, but fundamental ideals that should be made available and accessible for all to benefit from. But those processes need to be carried out responsibly and securely. In order to drive adoption, security must be a priority for all developers, users, or speculators interacting with blockchains or smart contracts. I've always thought the best way to protect something is to learn how to break it." - Steven Walbroehl