IRS plans to decrypt cryptocurrency wallets – GCN

IRS plans to decrypt cryptocurrency wallets

Over the past decade, the emergence and rapid adoption of cryptocurrencies has led many people to keep their assets in specially designed crypto wallets, software, and devices that store public and private crypto keys to keep track of. ownership of cryptocurrencies so that users can send, receive and store digital data. currency.

Although cryptocurrencies and wallets are legal, they are often used in ransomware attacks, where criminals demand payment in Bitcoin that is virtually unobtainable. Even if a hardware cryptowallet – one of the most secure types of wallets that is often used to store large amounts of cryptocurrency – is submitted as evidence in a criminal investigation, law enforcement has no way. to access the data if its owner does not want or cannot unlock the wallet.

Now, the IRS Criminal Investigation Unit will work to unlock cryptocurrency wallets so that investigators can more easily track the movement of cryptocurrencies and potentially recover stolen assets and prevent currency theft. digital.

The IRS will work with VTO Inc., a Colorado-based device forensics company, to research and develop techniques to access cryptowallets by exploiting hardware, software and firmware vulnerabilities that may exist in secure devices.

The goal of the IRS is to develop a body of research into the exploitation of crypto wallets, leveraging digital forensics for firmware analysis, hardware reverse engineering techniques, and card deconstruction. printed circuits and integrated circuit packages, among others. He expects to create a consistent and repeatable process for accessing existing and future portfolios that can be taught and followed in a digital forensics lab.

VTO ​​will first be responsible for operating a single type of device, or specific model, and showing how it can compromise the integrity of the cryptowallet’s protections and capture its content. Once this practice can be applied consistently, VTO will endeavor to leverage a variety of portfolios to identify trends in operating techniques and any consistent variables across different devices.

Through this work with VTO, the IRS will have “device specific acquisition / operation processes, guide and training for each device subject to be used in a digital forensic laboratory. “.

Learn more about the project here.

About the Author

Shourjya Mookerjee is an associate editor for GCN and FCW. He is a graduate of the University of Maryland, College Park, and has written for Vox Media, Fandom and a number of Capital Region media. He can be contacted at [email protected] – or you can find him ranting about sports, cinematography and the importance of local journalism on Twitter @byShourjya.

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