Jay Freeman was recently awarded $2m for finding a massive exploit in the Layer 2 platform Optimism, the highest ever bug bounty.
Freeman reached out to devs who quickly responded and patched the exploit before any funds were compromised. The exploit would have allowed anyone to create unlimited Ethereum on the Layer 2 platform.
Freeman’s findings have saved Optimism from an exploit which could have led to hundreds of millions of dollars worth of Ethereum being compromised.
Like many other bridge hacks, this exploit took advantage of the wrapped Ethereum on the platform.
If Freeman had chosen to exploit the system he could have easily withdrawn the newly created wrapped Ethereum and turned it into normal Ethereum.
This would have depleted the liquidity of the bridge and negatively impacted the market as a whole. While the exploit allowed anyone to create unlimited Ethereum on Optimism, there would be a limit to how much they could actually pull out to the main chain.
The most frightening part of this story is Freeman was not the first person to realize this bug. In an interview, he admitted he had seen someone messing with the contracts on Etherscan but thinks the hacker did not realize the full potential of the bug. Luckily this issue has been patched and can no longer be exploited.
Freeman has stated that helping some of these blockchain projects with basic levels of security is unacceptable. He believes many of these projects are in a rush to deploy smart contracts which can contain obvious errors while holding millions in cryptocurrencies.
Freeman has said that the “high stakes” nature of cryptocurrency has caused this lack of security.
Cryptocurrencies are constantly under threat of hacks due to the large amount of funds being held on each platform. The idea that the community will find these hacks and be rewarded is something Freeman does not agree with.
He believes in building blockchain projects around mathematicians, economists, and security experts instead of relying on community members and crypto enthusiasts to find the flaws.
Freeman started his career in hacking with unlocked iPhones. He was the creator of the Apple application, Cydia, which helps users jailbreak their phones. More recently Freeman has focused on blockchain applications and smart contracts.