Anyone with enough resources and technical knowledge could easily obtain a wallet PIN code. Around USD 200,000 and knowledge are needed to be able to violate the security of the device.
Last May 18th, the team of Ledger, a provider of cryptocurrency cold wallets, alerted the community and ColdCard to some vulnerability in one of the latter’s devices.
Ledger’s security experts said that the ColdCard MK2 wallet has some vulnerability that would allow a person, with the necessary knowledge and resources, to steal a user’s bitcoins. They explained that, due to a problem within the memory chip, anyone can obtain the PIN code of the device and thus have access to it.
However, they note that executing the hack requires that the person use highly specialized equipment, which could be worth around USD 200,000, and have highly technical knowledge. Despite this, Ledger’s team said that anyone with all the necessary resources can easily complete the task. Likewise, they explained how they managed to detect the vulnerability of the equipment and obtain the PIN code.
Vulnerability that Affects the Market
Ledger’s team said that the attack is conducted through a method known as laser fault injection. This is a state-of-the-art attack in which a very precise and focused laser ray is used while the chip is trying to act. In the case of the ATECC508A chip, used in Coldcard MK2 wallets, by doing this at a very specific moment, it is possible to omit the access conditions and obtain the PIN code stored in the secure memory.
Ledger stated that, by detecting the vulnerabilities of the MK2, they seek to give more security to the cryptocurrency market. They believe that some critical and exploitable vulnerability can cause problems for all the participants in the cryptocurrency market. The security team says that their task is to improve their devices, and study the security of other models existing on the market.
In response to Ledger’s report, the ColdCard team wrote in their Twitter account that the report had surprised them. They said that Ledger devoted a really large amount of resources to investigate their products.
In the same vein, several Twitter users stated that they were not concerned about vulnerability. They argued that to conduct the hack, it is necessary to have equipment worth USD 200,000, in addition to physical access to the device. Some said that the latest ColdCard device, the MK3, has new security protocols that make it much more secure.
There was a report last March about a malicious Google Chrome extension that stole the recovery phrase from Ledger devices. On the other hand, investigators verified in January of this year some vulnerability in Trezor’s cold wallets that facilitated the access to users’ private keys. This makes it evident that developers who use blockchain technology should always be seeking new ways to guarantee the security and privacy of users.
By Alexander Salazar