Cryptocurrency Hardware Wallets Can Be Hacked with Laser, Research Shows

Mon, 05/18/2020 - 15:53
Alex Dovbnya
The Ledger Donjon security research team has discovered that the Coldcard Mk2 crypto wallet can be hacked with a laser attack
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Donjon, a security research team behind the Ledger cryptocurrency wallet, has successfully compromised rivaling Coldcard Mk2 by targeting it with a high-powered laser.   

This incredibly complicated ‘fault infection attack’  makes it possible to extract the PIN and get access to the wallet’s funds.    

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The attack is very costly  

How worried should Coldcard Mk2 owners be? Probably, not too much.

Apart from gaining physical access to the device, bad actors would need to get their hands on expensive equipment that costs nearly $200,000 and have the wits to perform an incredibly complex operation.

In its response to the study, Coinkite, the hardware manufacturer behind the laser-hit wallet, lauded the Donjon team for publishing an ‘amazing’ report.

However, the company noted that the vulnerability doesn’t pertain to Mk3 Coldcard, its latest-generation product that has been on the market since 2019.

Fundamental changes were made between mark 2 and 3, long before Ledger reported them.

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More of Ledger’s findings

The researches also explained how ShapeShift’s wallet KeepKey can be hacked decoding its voltage outputs. ShapeShift has already made it more difficult for hackers to exploit the vulnerability.

As reported by U.Today, Kraken Security Labs also detected a similar flaw Trezor T and Trezor One -- the microcontrollers of these wallets could be attacked with the help of voltage glitching. 

Ledger, the leading name on the hardware wallet market, has an incentive to find weaknesses in the products of its direct competitors, but the company claims that Donjon researchers mainly attack their own wallets.

About the author

Alex Dovbnya (aka AlexMorris) is a cryptocurrency expert, trader and journalist with an extensive experience of covering everything related to the burgeoning industry — from price analysis to Blockchain disruption. Alex authored more than 1,000 stories for U.Today, CryptoComes and other fintech media outlets. He’s particularly interested in regulatory trends around the globe that are shaping the future of digital assets.

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