The IRS Wants Help Hacking Cryptocurrency Hardware Wallets
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Motherboard: The IRS is looking for help to break into cryptocurrency hardware wallets, according to a document posted on the agency website in March of this year. Many cryptocurrency investors store their cryptographic keys, which confer ownership of their funds, with the exchange they use to transact or on a personal device. Some folks, however, want a little more security and use hardware wallets — small physical drives which store a user’s keys securely, unconnected to the internet. The law enforcement arm of the tax agency, IRS Criminal Investigation, and more specifically its Digital Forensic Unit, is now asking contractors to come up with solutions to hack into cryptowallets that could be of interest in investigations, the document states.

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“The decentralization and anonymity provided by cryptocurrencies has fostered an environment for the storage and exchange of something of value, outside of the traditional purview of law enforcement and regulatory organizations,” the document reads. “There is a portion of this cryptographic puzzle that continues to elude organizations — millions, perhaps even billions of dollars, exist within cryptowallets.” The security of hardware wallets presents a problem for investigators. The document states that agencies may be in possession of a hardware wallet as part of a case, but may not be able to access it if the suspect does not comply. This means that authorities cannot effectively “investigate the movement of currencies” and it may “prevent the forfeiture and recovery” of the funds. “The explicit outcome of this contract is to tame the cybersecurity research into measured, repeatable, consistent digital forensics processes that can be trained and followed in a digital forensics’ laboratory,” the document says.

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