When was AsicVault established and how is it funded?
AsicVault was established 2016. It is funded by founders and corporate investors. Please see Crunchbase.
How can it be 1,000 times harder to crack compared to other BIP-39 hardware wallets?
BIP-39 hardware wallets are working on very low performance microcontrollers or secure elements. They are doing only 2,048 iterations of PBKDF2 SHA-512 that is even less than old NIST recommendation of 10,000 rounds from year 2016.
Performing higher number of PBKDF2 SHA-512 is standard practice for good security. iTunes does it, LastPass does it and Veracrypt as well. Even Ledger agrees that this very low number is the main problem of BIP-39.
AsicVault specially designed SHA-512 accelerator inside high performance secure chip is at least 340 times faster than common microcontrollers. The number of PBKDF2 SHA-512 rounds is set to be exactly 1,000 times higher than BIP-39, hence the cost to crack AsicVault is also 1,000 times bigger.
Please read in-depth teardown review and validation of AsicVault PBKDF2 SHA-512 performance here.
You can perform independent analysis according to this PDF and our device performance is shown on this video.
Does it support BIP-39 passphrase?
Yes, AsicVault supports all standard BIP-39 seed words and additional passphrase (so-called 25th word). You can restore your HD wallet account created by other hardware wallets (Ledger, Trezor, Keepkey) without any additional steps. AsicVault always opens standard security BIP-39 account and high security BIP-39 accounts at the same time.
Why two processors?
Common design practice, also followed by Ledger, is to separate secure and non-secure code. Our advantage is that these two RISC-V processors are inside a single secure chip. This way the Security CPU has full access to the Application CPU RAM. This makes it possible to do proper secure boot.
Open instruction set. Possibility to have open source CPU and extensions. We have already implemented several custom instructions.
Do I need a computer to initialize the device?
No. You can supply power from wall adapter or battery bank. AsicVault supports true air-gapped environment.
You can perform full device initialization, seed word generation and seed word backup without connection to the computer. You can also charge the device and check the status the same way.
Can I use USB extender cables?
Certified USB2.0 extender cables can be used. We don’t recommend extender cables while using USB3.1 features of the device. The device can detect (some) bad cables and show warning messages about them. It is not recommended to use cables/extenders longer than 2.5m. In any case, cables with lower AWG value are better, such as AWG20.
How hot does the device get?
During normal operation AsicVault device temperature reaches 35-37C. High speed USB3.0 operation adds additional 7C. AsicVault utilizes full Aluminum enclosure as an effective heatsink. Internal chips can tolerate up to +85C, so you never need to worry about them overheating. There are no Lithium batteries inside the device that are known for leaking and not tolerating high temperatures.
How long does the active anti-tamper system work?
Active anti-tamper protects your device at least 2 weeks, possibly up to 45 days, after you have fully charged the device. It takes just 15 minutes to charge the supercapacitors again. It is advisable to connect the device to a power source at least once per week. Different anti-tamper settings affect the anti-tamper aggressiveness, sensitivity and power consumption.
It is also good practice to enter your passphrase weekly so that you will not forget it.
How often can I charge it? Do the batteries age?
You can charge it as often as you like, several times per day. Supercapacitors can be charged 50,000 – 1,000,000 times during their lifetime compared to common Lithium batteries that only allow 500-1,000 times. Therefore even 10 times per day for 10 years should be fine. At least weekly charging is recommended for best anti-tamper protection.
How long are private keys safely stored inside device before the memory gets weak and they are lost?
Data retention time of Flash memory inside the main chip is 20 years. Additional encryption keys stored inside FRAM can last for 40 years at temperatures below 70C. These values are higher than the expected lifetime of the device. In any case you must make paper backup(s) of your seed words.
Can it store the whole Bitcoin blockchain inside the device?
No. The device is not designed to store large amounts of data. Internal 128-megabyte Flash is used to store applications. There are thousands of copies of the blockchain, storing yet another copy is not meaningful or necessary.
What is FIPS 140-2 highest Level 4?
FIPS 140-2 is Federal Information Processing Standard.
Level 4 requires that:
- physical security mechanisms provide a complete envelope of protection around the cryptographic module
- with the intent of detecting and responding to all unauthorized attempts at physical access
- Penetration of the cryptographic module enclosure from any direction has a very high probability of being detected, resulting in the immediate deletion of all plaintext CSPs
- Security Level 4 also protects a cryptographic module against a security compromise due to environmental conditions or fluctuations outside of the module's normal operating ranges for voltage and temperature
- A cryptographic module is required to include special environmental protection features designed to detect fluctuations and delete CSPs
We have used these guidelines while designing AsicVault. We meet and exceed the requirements in the following way:
- AsicVault has full Aluminium/Titanium enclosure that is not designed to be opened. Passive antitamper mesh protects the electronic circuits inside the device. Main secure chip also has chip level metal layer anti-tamper mesh.
- Active anti-tamper circuit monitors all intrusion attempts and performs immediate device zeroization upon detecting any such attempts.
- AsicVault has temperature, voltage and many other sensors that are continuously monitored by the anti-tamper circuit. Additionally, AsicVault has internal supercapacitor-based power reserve to run Elliptic Curve calculations and other cryptographic functions. Therefore, external voltage fluctuations can’t affect our device while performing these critical operations.
- Zeroization not only deletes the private keys, it also destroys internal hardware design making it impossible to perform any further analysis of the hardware.
AsicVault has not participated in formal Cryptographic Module Validation Program since we are not targeting US government users at this point.
Can AsicVault device run Linux?
It is not our priority to run Linux since it has too big overhead for hardware wallet. However, our RISC-V processors and Mark II hardware can run Linux for your custom projects.
Where can I purchase the device?
Please contact your local supplier about availability.