Bitcoin puzzles are 75 wallets that hold 969 BTC (approximately $25 million). Anyone can access these Bitcoins if they pick up the appropriate private keys. In this article, we will find out who created Bitcoin puzzles, how to extract Bitcoins from there, and how to create your own.
The anonymous creator (possibly Satoshi Nakamoto himself) divided 32.9 BTC among 256 addresses on January 15, 2015. The distribution was as follows: the first address received 0.001 BTC, the second received 0.002 BTC, the third received 0.003 BTC, and so on, up to 0.256 BTC.
A little later, the crypto community noticed these transactions and discovered a pattern: the private keys to addresses in binary format started with zeros, the number of which gradually decreased.
The key to the first address was of the form 0...00000000001;
The key to the fourth address was 0...00000001000;
The key to the ninth address was 0...000111010011.
The project’s creator remains unknown to this day, but periodically reminds us of himself. In 2017, he moved bitcoins from addresses #161 through #256 to addresses with smaller numbers. This is probably because shortly it will be impossible to pick keys longer than 160 bits.
The crypto community believes that the creator of this crypto puzzle wanted to demonstrate the resistance of Bitcoin addresses to key brute force. Accordingly, participants consider the puzzle hack as an entertaining challenge with rewards, rather than a Bitcoin theft.
Anonymous, who created this puzzle game, tries to keep the community interested in the game. In April 2022, he increased the rewards 10 times and took Bitcoins from every fifth address. So far, 75 puzzles (#66 through #160) with balances ranging from 6.6 BTC ($175,000) to 16 BTC ($425,000) have remained unhacked.
The total amount of coins in the puzzles is 969 BTC (~$25 million).
To decrypt a Bitcoin puzzle, you need to find the private key corresponding to a certain address. On the first day since the puzzle was created, users decrypted 29 puzzles. It took two weeks to find the keys for address #40, seven months for address #47, and five years for address #64.
The simplest of the remaining puzzles has 66 random bits. There are a total of 7.37 * 10^19 possible combinations. Checking a billion variations per second on a GTX 1660 Ti graphics card, it would take two thousand years to go through the entire range.
The community of participants has developed many tools for solving the puzzles. Here are some of them:
Private Key Finder: a web application for finding keys to Bitcoin and Ethereum wallets. Uses your computer's CPU and requires no special installation;
KeyHunt: an open-source program for finding Bitcoin keys within a given range. Uses a computer processor and runs on Linux.
Creating a similar puzzle is possible in any blockchain network. To do this, you need to repeat the simple actions performed by an anonymous person in 2015:
Generate a string of 256 bits, where 1 to 256 bits will be random.
Convert each string into a private key using the cryptographic formula of the chosen blockchain system.
Create public addresses.
Transfer tokens to these addresses. The size of the reward should correspond to the number of random bits in the key.
The history of Bitcoin tokens has demonstrated to the crypto community the level of security of private keys. For example, the process of matching keys with 60 or more random bits can take several years. Overall, such activity has further fueled interest in the first cryptocurrency and increased the popularity of Bitcoin.