The IRS is going to start cracking down on hardware wallets

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The IRS is going to start cracking down on hardware wallets

The IRS is going to start cracking down on hardware wallets
Source: GCN
1648042397 23 Mar / 13:33

Many people have held their assets in cryptowallets, purpose-built software and devices that store the public and private cryptographic keys to track ownership of cryptocurrencies so users can send, receive, and store digital currency, due to the emergence and rapid adoption of cryptocurrencies over the last decade.

While cryptocurrencies and wallets are legal, they are frequently utilized in ransomware attacks, in which criminals demand payment in Bitcoin, which is almost untraceable. Even if a hardware cryptowallet — one of the most secure wallet kinds for holding huge amounts of bitcoin — is submitted as evidence in a criminal investigation, law enforcement will be unable to access the data if the wallet's owner refuses or is unable to open it.

Now, the IRS’ Criminal Investigation branch is seeking to unlock bitcoin wallets so that investigators may better follow cryptocurrency movement, recover stolen assets, and prevent digital currency theft.

The IRS will collaborate with VTO Inc., a device forensics firm based in Colorado, to explore and create strategies for getting access to cryptowallets by exploiting hardware, software, and firmware flaws in the encrypted devices.

The IRS wants to build a body of knowledge about cryptographic wallet exploitation by combining digital forensics with firmware analysis, hardware reverse engineering techniques, and deconstruction of printed circuit boards and integrated circuit packages, among other things. It seeks to develop a standardized and repeatable method for gaining access to existing and future wallets that can be taught and followed in a digital forensics lab.

VTO will be charged with demonstrating how it can violate the integrity of cryptowallet safeguards and grab its contents by focusing on a single device type or model. VTO will concentrate on exploiting a range of wallets to uncover trends in exploitation techniques and any characteristics that are consistent across different devices once this practice can be executed consistently.

The IRS will have “device-specific acquisition/exploitation techniques, guides, and training for each device topic for use in a digital forensics laboratory” as a result of their collaboration with VTO.

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