Brussels / 2 & 3 February 2019


Protecting Secrets with Hardware

Secure elements, hardware wallets, and device support for cryptocurrencies

Using special purpose hardware devices to protect secrets is a staple of cryptocurrency enthusiasts. We share the lessons learned of creating secure hardware wallets and insecure conference badges at Monero Hardware.

In this half hour presentation, we work backwards disassembling parts of a series of hardware security devices capable of participating in blockchain networks.

We consider devices like the Signet, Nitrokey, SC4-HSM, Trezor, and the Monero Hardware Wallet. In our high level comparison we identify common hardware components and common strategies to defeat MITM and other forge attempts at network edges. Shifting gears, we disassemble and put devices under the microscope to study circuits. Explanations are kept at novice level hardware competence to ensure we're all on the same page.

An interesting angle involves counting the generic blockchain use cases provided by special purpose cryptocurrency wallet hardware, and we conclude by a whirlwind hypothetical workflow illustrating the steps involved in building a new secure hardware device.


Photo of Michael Schloh von Bennewitz Michael Schloh von Bennewitz