Hacking The Roulette: XYZeron for Microsoft’s Blue Hat Cybersecurity Conference
Updated: Oct 27, 2020
Microsoft’s Blue Hat security Conference is a by-invitation event for leading professionals in the cyber-security sphere that takes place all over the world.
For the 2019 edition of the event in Tel-Aviv, Microsoft brought together renowned speakers, groundbreaking research, hack sessions, and challenges all on the backdrop of a fun, casino-style atmosphere.
Microsoft wanted to present the event goers with a “rigged” roulette wheel which they could control the outcome of. This created a unique combined software and hardware challenge that had to be solved and created in the very short time frame of two weeks. It had to be quiet, accurate, and invisible to the players. XYZeron was up to the task.
With no prior guidelines or resources to rely on for this completely new problem at hand, XYZeron engineered the solution from scratch.
So how did we set about doing it?
Step 1: Proving Our Theory
The base of our solution relied on a magnet that would sit behind the desired number. To test the feasibility of our hypothesis, we consulted a magnet specialist who provided us with a myriad of magnets - the most powerful of which we used to test our theory. We glued the largest magnet under the number 0 and watched as it tipped the ball into the desired socket at a 100% success rate. Once proving that this is indeed possible, the next step would be to simply gear the magnet to turn to the desired number. Sounds pretty straightforward, right? Apparently not.
We began by designing and 3D printing versions of the propulsion systems that would connect to the bottom of the roulette. This includes a handle that keeps the magnet as close as possible to the roulette’s pockets. After various prototypes, the final design looked like this:
Of course it was printed on our Prusa printer.
We used a powerful Nema 17 motor that allows precision when it comes to the location of the magnet and holds it in place once it arrives at its desired roulette pocket. In addition, we also installed a limit switch that allowed the handle to recognize homing to a predetermined number, drastically minimizing the chances of the magnet not ending up in the desired number due to the motor’s loss of steps.
Now that we’ve built a mechanical system that can move a magnet wherever we choose to on the roulette (#winning 😎), the next challenge was to connect electricity to the constantly moving roulette in a way that would not be visible to the players.
While our first thought and feasible solution was a wireless one where the designated number would be transferred via Bluetooth, we were worried about an unstable wireless connection on such a large-scale event (just imagine how s l o w the internet is when your family comes to visit and that’s only a few people). The idea was that the motor would be powered with a battery, but this would have to be frequently replaced as even when not in motion, the motor consumes a lot of energy. That’s why we ended up going with a wire solution. The good old fashioned way.
What really saved the day was using a slip ring that allowed for continued electrical connectivity even on a fast-pace spinning wheel. Because information moving through this friction can make noise, we decided to make these digital electronics stationary and place them right under the roulette. We then only passed designated wires to the motor and the limit switch, using the slip ring to secure a continuous and stable connection with the computer that transmits the desired numbers to the roulette. It also allowed for precise control of the motor despite its continuous, quick spinning. Talk about keeping things under control 😉
In the two days the roulette wheel did it’s “magic” at Blue Hat, there was a 100% success rate and no numbers were ever missed.
Microsoft received an engineered roulette that was controlled by a software they coded specifically for the event.
Microsoft provided the numbers, XYZeron made sure the roulette stopped right at them.
XYZeron is an IOT and product development company that takes ideas from concept to product, processing data while offering guidance all the way through post-production. No dream is too far fetched.
Our expertise includes rapid prototyping services, robots, RF solutions, electronic architecture, embedded programming, and image processing.