Samsung, a prominent manufacturer of electronic gadgets, is in all praise for smartphones being the safest for cryptocurrency. Currently, the world of blockchain and digital currencies is highly infested with theft cases amounting to $761 million or more. In this context, Samsung, the organisation affiliating a number of businesses, has come up with a solution suggesting smartphones as the best mode of security for cryptocurrency.
In July, 2018 the prominent business organisation has expressed its views in a blog on Insights platform. The blog post have explicitly stated, “smartphones have the best security for blockchain and cryptocurrency.”
However, when other expert comments have been considered, they suggest that smartphones, indeed, serve as a short term solution. It should also be kept in mind that handsets are not entirely free from all risks linked with the storage of virtual currencies.
The author of Samsung article, Joel Snyder has expressed his view on this topic. He has stated that since smartphones including Samsung’s phones are equipped with TEE or Trusted Execution Environments, they become appropriate for storage of crypto assets. It is written by Synder that, “The TEE is a separate execution environment with its own memory and persistent storage, completely isolated from the rest of the device.” Snyder has further statedwrote.
He has further stated, “The Android OS can’t reach into the TEE, even if the former is completely compromised. The only way to get to and from the TEE is with an API that calls small applications running in the TEE ‘trustlets.” He has further stated that the wallet which is properly written and utilises trustlets for managing keys, herein, the security is tight.
According to his statement, “If those private keys are in the TEE and only accessible via a trustlet, there’s no possible way the malware can extract the keys directly. And with platforms like Samsung Knox that wrap additional protections on the TEE on top of the normal Android features, the keys are even better protected.”
This serves as a ground to distinguish smartphones from laptops. Wallet software are more vulnerable to malware than laptops since they do not possess TEEs. In spite of having high security provided by TEE, smartphones fail to completely resist attacks.
Jameson Lopp, Bitcoin developer has commented on this issue, “Having a TEE is certainly better than not having a TEE because the private keys themselves are better protected.” He has provided an explanation by sending an mail to Hard Fork. Lopp has said that malware has an impact on the wallet operation’s important components. This gets affected when transactions are created, thereby, leading to the funds directed to the address of the attacker.
Matthew Green, John Hopkins cryptography professor has expressed that TEEs are not created equally and hence cannot be fully trusted. Green has stated, “the quality and security of TEEs differs” on the basis of the ones who make them. Finally, Green has concluded that despite TEE not being “magic bullet” yet they are hard nut to crack for the hackers.
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