The DAO Hacker is Getting Away

What happened to The DAO hacker?

It's a question that weeks after the headline-grabbing heist rocked the blockchain world seems to evade an easy answer.

Interviews conducted by CoinDesk indicate the ethereum community seems to have largely abandoned efforts to find the individual or group that compromised the project, even as theramifications of what was done to protect investors continue to reverberate.

To recap, The DAO attack proved the primary motivation in encouraging a majority of the ethereum community to agree to create a new blockchain history last month. The thinking was that ethereum users would quickly migrate to the new fork, leaving any coins on the original blockchain where The DAO hacker had a balance worthless.

This, however, is not what occurred.

Rather than abandon the old blockchain, development continues to be led by those ideologically opposed to the new blockchain and its values.

Two weeks later, the blockchain known as ethereum classic has a amassed a global market cap of almost $200m. The market has further decided its tokens, classic ethers (ETC), have value, enough for it to be the fifth largest digital currency in the world.

In addition to creating a new market for investors, the developments are a huge break for The DAO hacker.

Should these funds be successfully sold, The DAO could ultimately walk away with $8.5m. Though that's still a fraction of the nearly $40m he or she would have if his bounty was denominated in ETH, it's not a bad cache for one day's work.

What moves the tale beyond speculation, though, is that there is increasing evidence to suggest the hacker has noticed the appreciation of his new funds.

In recent days, that value has been on the move.

Exiting positions

There remain other open questions as well, such as how The DAO hacker will liquidate his or her position in ETC.

Due to the original construction of The DAO, there were rules on how funds could be withdrawn, and those have now been replicated in the alternative version of the accounts on ethereum classic. And so, as happened in ethereum prior to the hard fork, a 27-day countdown has once again begun before the 3.6m ETC can be taken out of the contract.

Nick Johnson, software engineer for the non-profit Ethereum Foundation (which has supported the hard-fork version of ethereum), was able to explain how the DAO hacker could profit by converting his classic ether funds into fiat currency or another digital currency.

Johnson explained that it's likely the attacker wasn't a curator of the fund, meaning he or she would need to create another DAO to withdraw those funds to before gaining custody.

But he added that he hadn't investigated the details of the matter.

Interviews with members of the Ethereum Foundation suggest stopping the DAO hacker from profiting from his heist, even through an alternative version of the blockchain, isn't top of mind.

"Sorry to disappoint," he said. "But I'm afraid I'm probably the wrong person to ask here."

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