Joe Grand: Hacking Crypto Wallets for Good

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Joe Grand, also known as "Kingpin," is a computer engineer, hardware hacker, and tech YouTuber. Using his knowledge and skills, Grand can build technologies and crack systems. Among the crypto community, he is famous for successful cases of hacking crypto wallets and helping clients regain control over their cryptocurrencies.
Joe Grand was born on September 3, 1975, in the United States. He got interested in technology at a young age. At 16 years old, Grand became the youngest member of the L0pht, one of the earliest hackerspaces and ethical hacking groups. Together with the group, he discovered security flaws in tech products and raised alarms about technology risks. 

In 1998, L0pht members, including Joe Grand, testified to Congress about the state of security. As The Washington Post reported they presented the dangers that hardware, software, and the internet posed to computers and their users. The hackers clarified that having an internet connection allows malicious actors to access user accounts and compromise data. 

Aside from being a member of the L0pht, Joe Grand is known as one of the hosts of an American TV series called “Prototype This,” on the Discovery Channel. During the show, Grand designed and engineered product prototypes to solve real-life problems. Those included a waterslide simulator and a robotic dog sitter.

In 2002, Joe Grand started his technology development, consulting, and training firm called Grand Idea Studio. He’s a co-author of several books, including "Hardware Hacking: Have Fun While Voiding Your Warranty" and "Game Console Hacking: Xbox, PlayStation, Nintendo, Atari, and Gamepark 32." 

Joe Grand Recovers Millions of Dollars in Crypto by Cracking Wallets

In 2022, Joe Grand uploaded a YouTube video telling how he hacked a hardware wallet Trezor which held $2M worth of cryptocurrency. The video went viral and gained millions of views in weeks. In it, Joe and Dan Reich, the wallet’s owner, shared the story and the technical details of the wallet recovery.
In 2018, Reich bought  $50,000 worth of Theta with his friend. They stored the assets in a hardware crypto wallet, a USB-like physical device. Crypto wallets are protected with private keys and a code consisting of characters and are used to sign transactions. Only the owner of the wallet shall know their private keys. Without private keys, it becomes impossible to access the wallet. That’s exactly what happened to the Reich. 

In 2020, the price of the tokens rose, reaching $2.5 million in total. Reich and his friend decided to withdraw the tokens, but they had lost the paper where the PIN was written. According to the security measures, they had 16 guesses before data on the wallet would be erased. After trying about 10 times, the friends stopped guessing. 

In his search for an expert who could help, Reich found Joe Grand, who accepted the challenge. It took 3 weeks for the engineer to try different techniques until he succeeded in cracking the code. Talking about hacking, Grand says in a video: 
Hacking is not what you see in the movies. It’s a big roller coaster, solving puzzles, forcing computers and hardware to do things they weren’t expecting to do, you want them to fail their function in a way that you can control.
In an interview with Bitcoin Talk, Grand said that after the video they had received hundreds of emails from people wanting to recover access to their crypto wallets. The responses started a partnership between Reich and Grand, who founded, a company dedicated to helping people recover their lost wallets.

In May 2024, Joe Grand and his team helped a man recover $3M from a software wallet. In the most recent video on his channel, Grand tells the story of a man who 11 years ago bought ​​43.6 Bitcoins and then lost the private keys to his wallet. The client, who remained anonymous, used a random password generator tool called RoboForm to create a password for the wallet. To find the key, Grand and his colleague Bruno tried to find a vulnerability in RoboForm's old versions that would make the password predictable. Luckily for the wallet holder, they found such a flaw. After generating millions of passwords based on the timeframe in which the wallet was created, Grand and Bruno recovered the wallet. 

The Legendary Hacker and His Role in Crypto 

Joe Grand’s stories of cracking wallets, recovering cryptocurrencies, and sharing the details publicly have shown that even cases that seem impossible to solve may have solutions. His security practices and hacking techniques raise awareness and can be used to improve the existing systems. Previously, Joe Grand warned about the fraud in cases when scammers introduce themselves as experts. He says when looking for help, people need to make sure they are talking with a real person. There are Joe Grand impersonators on social media who offer help, take the money upfront and disappear. 

Grand said, that many people get scammed by sending crypto to a fake exchange or investing in a fake coin.
Regardless of how people are locked out of their cryptocurrency, they need to know they're not alone.” - mentioned Grand. “They shouldn't feel "stupid" for forgetting their password, losing a piece of paper with their recovery seed, or being scammed. It's all a matter of being human and these things happen to many of us.

Web3 writer and crypto HODLer with a keen interest in market trends and recent technologies.