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Does Apple’s CryptoKit Pave the Way for Secure Hardware Wallets?

At WWDC this year Apple announced CryptoKit framework.

CryptoKit is undoubtedly a step ahead towards protecting both the users (profile and data) and the businesses (account and content). Many experts are increasingly looking at its possibility of paving the most sought out way for building secure hardware wallets, thereby being a complete breakthrough in the world of digital currency transactions.

Before diving deeper into how CryptoKit can mark this big move, let’s first settle the question that has been doing the rounds since the announcement.

Is “CryptoKit” Designed for Cryptocurrencies?

Yannick Sierra, appointed as a security engineering and architecture manager at Apple, introduced CryptoKit as:

“Welcome to the bitcoin session! (Laughter in the room). Kidding — welcome to Cryptography and Your Apps session!”

People took the first five words way too literally! This led to a chain of misconceptions where people started linking CryptoKit with Cryptocurrency. But, it is not true!

Crypto Stands for “Cryptography” and not “Cryptocurrency”

As per Apple, CryptoKit is the perfect API that helps “perform cryptographic operations securely and efficiently.” It is a Swift API that has been introduced as an upgrade of the CommonCrypto, wherein Apple supported an open-source library for iOS and OS X.

Cryptography Basics

Cryptography (Originating from Kryptos, implying hidden) refers to the techniques that facilitate secure communication between two authenticated parties while bypassing any third party interference.

Cryptography Process

It makes use of private and public keys along with robust algorithms to offer a secure platform to the users – to facilitate safe information sharing. The three basic functions of a cryptography tool include:

  • Authentication
  • Encryption
  • Integrity

With the introduction of the CryptoKit framework, all the above-mentioned operations are taken care of so that:

  • Data within the apps can be protected
  • Credentials and keys can be safeguarded
  • Data sharing can be securely executed
  • The network connection can be secured
  • Remote parties can be verified

This means that CryptoKit as a package leaves no avenue for an intruder to breach the security covers to access a user’s private data and sets high-end safety parameters for your Apple application.

Further, CryptoKit makes use of Swift Framework, secure algorithms, and secure enclave to level up the performance and security when it comes to iOS application development.

Cryptokit features when it comes to iOS application development.

Cryptographic Operations Supported By CryptoKit

The primary aspect of CryptoKit zeros in on the different algorithms exploited by this technology. Here is how different cryptographic operations are executed.

  • Hash Functions: Compute and compare cryptographically secure digests.
  • Symmetric-Key Cryptography: Generate symmetric keys, and use them in operations like message authentication and encryption.
  • Public-Key Cryptography: Use public-key cryptography to create and evaluate digital signatures, and to perform the key exchange. In addition to working with the keys stored in memory, you can also use private keys stored in and managed by the Secure Enclave.
  • Insecure Module: This module offers specific algorithms such as MD5 and SHA1 so that you can deploy CryptoKit, even if you will be using algorithms that no longer meet security standards.

different cryptographic operations

Is Secure Hardware Wallet Possible with CryptoKit?

There is a huge scope to make use of the newly introduced CryptoKit framework to secure hardware wallets, if not now, definitely in the times to come, bringing about the much-awaited technology disruption.

What are cryptocurrency hardware wallets?

A cryptocurrency wallet is an application that stores public and private keys and leverages the power of blockchain to send and receive digital currencies on the virtual platform.

On the other hand, a hardware wallet is a USB-like device that stores the user’s private keys. The ability to store a hardware wallet offline, levels ups the security of the key stored.

The best part about these wallets is that they are capable enough to hold hundreds of digital currencies without any limitations.

The question that has been doing the rounds since the announcement of CryptoKit revolves around how it will help secure hardware wallets in the future.

So here’s an answer: Blockchain works along with decentralization, cryptography, and distributed digital data records to keep away any third party intruders so that the private keys stored on the hardware wallets stay secure.

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Every digital currency transaction makes use of the digital signature. So, when the cryptocurrency gets uploaded on the network, there is no chance to change or delete the data. This is because the data gets stored on a ledger that stays consistent throughout the lifecycle of the transaction in question.

According to Apple’s documentation, CryptoKit secures the transaction through:

  • Computing and comparing cryptographically secure digests.
  • Using public-key cryptography to create and evaluate digital signatures, and performing key exchange. In addition to working with keys stored in memory, you can also use private keys stored in and managed by the Secure Enclave.
  • Generating symmetric keys, to be used in operations like message authentication and encryption.

Conclusion

Where cryptography was harder to get a hold on, keeping in mind the various threats involved; with CryptoKit the scenario is likely to change. With the launch of CryptoKit, Apple has surely put an effort towards negating the rising number of security threats that have been haunting enterprises for long.

Undoubtedly, CryptoKit is the next digital disruption that can pave the way towards building secure hardware wallets. Though Apple, has set the stage right for futuristic inventions, only time will unfold how the actual execution of CryptoKit will help secure digital currency transactions in the long run.

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Amit Manchanda

About the Author

Amit Manchanda is working at Net Solutions as Project Lead and has over 9 years of experience in technologies like ASP, Adobe Flex, and Android. He has been part of SME (Subject Matter Expert) Group for RIA applications. He possesses a sound understanding of technical requirement/problem analysis and resolution for providing the best solutions to clients. He is passionate about his work and enjoys interacting with his team. In his leisure time, he loves to listen to music, watch cricket, and play with his daughter.

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