SEC554: Blockchain and Smart Contract Security

  • Online
30 CPEs

SEC554 will teach you all topics relevant to securing, hacking, and using blockchain and smart contract technology. The course takes a detailed look at the technology that underpins multiple implementations of blockchain, the cryptography and transactions behind them, the various smart contract languages like Solidity and Rust, and the protocols built with them like NFTs, DeFi, and Web3. The labs in the course provide the hands-on training and tools needed to deploy, audit, scan, and exploit blockchain and smart contract assets, as well as actively learn how to defend them and identify threats and threat actors using them for malicious purposes.

Course Authors:

What You Will Learn

In 2008, an anonymous author using 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 many others. However, due to the fast moving innovation and adoption of blockchain, and the unfamiliar concepts 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 deploy, audit, scan, and exploit various blockchain implementations, such as Bitcoin, Ethereum, Solana, Cosmos, Near and others, as well as smart contract languages like Solidity and Rust, along with protocols, such as NFTs, DeFi, and Web3.

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 security 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 include how to:

  • Interact with and get data from public blockchains
  • Exploit several types of smart contract vulnerabilities
  • Test and exploit weak cryptography/entropy
  • Discover and re-create private keys
  • Understand what cryptojackers do and how to trace and track movements on blockchain
  • 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 SEC554 delivers.

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
  • 28 labs with custom tools
  • Course workbook

Syllabus (30 CPEs)

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  • Overview

    The first course section begins by establishing the fundamentals of blockchain technology and how it is applied to real-world problems. We willl also look at smart contract technology and walk through examples of how it is applied today in various industries and market use cases. 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 types of cryptocurrency wallets
    • Deep-dive into the different consensus mechanisms like Proof of Work and Proof of Stake that make blockchain a decentralized system
    • Learn how crypto currency mining works
    • Investigate what happens during transactions

    The section concludes with the common classifications of vulnerabilities and attacks. This lesson 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 will then spend time learning and using blockchain security tools that exploit private keys and users, and cover the common mistakes people make when using them.


    Lab 1.1: Use Metamask to Swap on a DeFi Exchange

    Lab 1.2: Brute Force a Mnemonic Phrase to Access a Wallet

    Lab 1.3: Recreate a Key to Investigate Multi-Chain Transactions

    Lab 1.4: Join a Mining Pool and Create a Validator

    Lab 1.5: Use Various Blockchain Clients to Discover Funds

    Lab 1.6 Locate and Exploit an Exposed Private Key


    Blockchain and Smart Contract Fundamentals

    • Origin and Purpose
    • Types of Blockchains
    • Smart Contract Overview
    • Common Use Cases

    Blockchain Keys

    • Wallets and Keys
    • Mnemonic Keys (BIP-32/BIP-39)
    • Attacks on Private Keys
    • Case Study: Mnemonic Reconstruction

    Blockchain Transactions

    • Block Explorers
    • BTC, EVM, Solana, Monero and other transactions
    • Case Study: Poly Network Hack Transactions

    Consensus Protocols

    • Proof of Work
    • Security Issues in Proof of Work
    • Proof of Stake
    • Security Issues in Proof of Stake
    • Other Consensus Types

    Blockchain Architecture

    • BTC, EVM, Rust, Golang  Clients, APIs, and SDKs

    Blockchain Vulnerabilities and Attacks

    • Network and Consensus Security Issues
    • Smart Contract and Code Security Issues
    • Wallet and Client Security Issues
    • Centralization Security Issues
    • User Security Issues
  • Overview

    This 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 will introduce the Ethereum smart contract programming language, Solidity, and examine how to compile, deploy, and interact with smart contracts locally and remotely. We also discuss the common access control standards, and security libraries to use in Solidity. We explore how NFT (Non-Fungible Tokens) work, and the unique vulnerabilities that can be exploited.

    After students are familiar with the development process from using tools like Truffle, Ganache, Brownie, and Hardhat to deep-dive into the common 7thereum 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. Methods of performing security audits, like formal verification and symbolic execution, are explained. Finally, after students learn how to identify a smart contract vulnerability, well attack and exploit a custom smart contract on a locally created Ethereum network deployed by the students.


    Lab 2.1: Identifying the Function Exploited on a Contract

    Lab 2.2: Compiling and Deploying a Smart Contract

    Lab 2.3: Exploiting a Vulnerable Smart Contract

    Lab 2.4: Scanning a Contract for Vulnerabilities

    Lab 2.5: Exploiting an NFT Contract to Mint a Coin


    Solidity Basics

    • Solidity Language Overview
    • Storage, Memory, and CallData
    • Function Selectors
    • Interacting with EVM Smart Contracts

    Compiling and Deploying Contracts

    • The Solidity Compiler
    • ABI, Bytecode, Gas, and Opcodes
    • Networks and Frameworks for Auditing
    • Deploying a Smart Contract

    Smart Contract Security Issues

    • Security Hacks on Ethereum
    • Common Vulnerabilities and Attacks
    • Case Study: The DAO Hack
    • Case Study: The Party Multisig Hack

    Auditing and Hacking Solidity Smart Contracts

    • Static Analysis and Symbolic Execution
    • Manual Testing and Formal Verification
    • Security Testing and Auditing Tools

    Contract Libraries and Standards

    • ERC Standards
    • Solidity Security Libraries
    • Access Control and Contract Delegation Exploits
    • Case Study: The Poly-Network Hack

    NFT Vulnerabilities

    • NFT Vulnerability Categories
    • Case Study: Hacking an NFT Loot Bag

  • Overview

    Course section three focuses on the blockchains and contracts that are built with Rust. These blockchains are usually Proof-of-Stake systems, and have unique aspects due to the programming language used. We introduce the Rust programming language, which is a memory efficient high-level language, and we learn about the code specific vulnerabilities that can be found. We use tools to help find exploitable bugs, like cargo. Then we deep-dive into specific technologies built with rust in the blockchain ecosystem, like Solana, CosmWasm, and Substrate. New vulnerabilities, like taking over accounts, PDAs, SPL, and unique Rust-based hacks are all explained and demonstrated.

    After the technical blockchain fundamentals are established and have become familiar to students, the course builds on that knowledge with a focus on security topics scoped to blockchain systems such as the Bitcoin network. Students 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.


    Lab 3.1: Web Application Hacking with Rust

    Lab 3.2: Substrate Exploit - SANS Kitties

    Lab 3.3: Exploiting Solana Account Type Confusion

    Lab 3.4: Setup and Interact with a Local CosmWasm Blockchain

    Lab 3.5: Compile and Deploy a CosmWasm Smart Contract

    Lab 3.6: Exploit a Vulnerable CosmWasm Smart Contract


    Rust Overview

    • What is Rust
    • Rust Security
    • Rust Developer Tools


    • Substrate Architecture
    • Substrate Vulnerabilities


    • What is CosmWasm?
    • CosmWasm Architecture
    • CosmWasm Tools and Chains
    • CosmWasm Vulnerabilities


    • Solana Architecture
    • Proof of history
    • PDAs and SPLs
    • Solana Security Issues
    • Solana Programs

  • Overview

    Throughout course section four you learn about the innovative and unique way smart contracts democratize financial services. DeFi is a complex environment of interworking components. We go through the most relevant DeFi protocols that make up those components, the terminology, and how they operate. Protocols discussed are DEXs, Automated Market Makers, lending and borrowing platforms, stablecoins, derivatives, yield farms, oracles, and prediction markets. Each of these DeFi protocols have unique attack types that combine both economic-based and code-based exploitation. Attacks through flash loans, oracle manipulation, and governance proposals are all discussed, with examples. This section is more about the business logic rather than the tools or platforms, and we use several labs that exploit DeFi protocols across several different blockchains.


    Lab 4.1: Exploit a Vulnerable AMM

    Lab 4.2: Perform a Flash Loan Attack

    Lab 4.3: Deploy and Interact with a Chainlink Oracle

    Lab 4.4: Perform a Governance Attack on EVM

    Lab 4.5: Exploit a Yield Farm on Solana


    The Concepts, Benefits and Risks in DeFi

    • DeFi vs. CeFi
    • Protocols Overview
    • Environmental Risks and DeFi Attacks
    • Security Incident Timeline

    Decentralized Exchanges (DEX)

    • Key Terminology
    • Automated Market Makers (AMMs)
    • Aggregators
    • DEX Issues and Exploits
    • Case Study: DEX Liquidity Pool Hack

    Lending and Borrowing

    Key Terminology

    • AAVE and Compound Protocols
    • Issues and Risks
    • Flash Loans
    • Case Study: Flash Loan Attack

    Stable Coins, Derivatives, and Synthetic Assets

    • Types of Stable Coins and Derivatives
    • Security Risks
    • Case Study: Terra  UST and Luna Collapse

    Governance and Oracles

    • Oracle Purpose and Designs
    • Oracle Attacks
    • Governance Overview and Key Terms
    • Governance Attacks
    • Case Study: Beanstalk Farms Malicious Governance

    Emerging DeFi Protocols and Risks

    • DEX Aggregators
    • Prediction Markets
    • Decentralized Insurance
    • Yield Farms and Yield Aggregators

  • Overview

    We start this course section by looking at common vulnerabilities of cross-chain and bridges. These are critical infrastructure components that are constantly attacked, and they have high value and impact. We discuss the adversaries on blockchain, the patterns they use to attack and steal funds, and defining a framework for these patterns to help us defend against it.

    We then look at some of the tools used for monitoring and protecting smart contracts. You analyze how privacy, anonymity, and personal identity can be compromised if a blockchain user is not authenticated and how to protect again these issues. Finally, we take a look at how the blockchain is used maliciously and the current compliance and regulatory landscape of blockchainand some tools used.

    We 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 also provides information on how these markets differ from the normal Internet and why they are used for illegal purposes. We also examine privacy crypto like Monero, as well as the regulations enforced by agencies to prevent criminal activity.


    Lab 5.1: Crash a Cross-Chain Bridge

    Lab 5.2: Detect a Front-Running Attack

    Lab 5.3: Verify a Smart Contract with Tenderly

    Lab 5.4: Monitor a Wallet for Malicious Activity Using Forta

    Lab 5.5 Install a Crypto-Miner Malware Agent

    Lab 5.6: Use OSINT to Discover Hidden Bitcoin Funds



    • What is Cross-chain?
    • Bridges
    • Cross-chain and Bridge Vulnerabilities
    • Case Study: ThorChain Vulnerabilities in the BiFrost
    • Chain-bridge

    Blockchain Threats and Adversary Tactics

    • Blockchain Threat Actors
    • Case Study: Rug Pull Anatomy
    • ATT&CK Matrix for DeFi
    • Tornado Cash and Money Laundering

    Blue Team for Blockchain

    • Incident Response Process Overview and Key Terms
    • Tools for Defending DeFi

    Attacks on Privacy

    • Blockchain-Based Attacks
    • Non-Blockchain-Based Attacks
    • Defenses for Privacy

    Malicious Uses of Blockchain

    • Ransomware and Crypto-Lockers
    • Case Study: WannaCry Ransomware
    • ICO Scams, and Ponzi Schemes
    • Case Study: PlusToken
    • Crypto-jacking
    • Case Study: CoinHive

    Regulatory Compliance and Investigation

    • The Current Regulatory Environment
    • TOR, Monero, and Dark Net Markets
    • Case Study: Operation Disruptor
    • OSINT and Blockchain Forensics
    • Monero

Laptop Requirements

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.


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: 30 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.

Credential Guard

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

Author Statement

"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


What I had hoped for and more. The course is covering not only the fundamentals, but offense, defense, and forensics.
Mauricio Maranho
Solution Providers Inc
SEC554 gives an excellent education on the next big technological revolution, taught by the folks on the front lines.
SEC554 gives an excellent education on the next big technological revolution, taught by the folks on the front lines.
Ravi Danesh
BMO Financial Group
SEC554 provided great foundational knowledge around blockchain security. Anyone interested in learning blockchain security should be able to go through this material and have a solid understand of how Bitcoin works.
Beau Bullock
Amazing and unique one of a kind course. No other learning experience quite like this one... wish there was more!
Yenny Angzas

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