[bitcoin-dev] Overview of anti-covert-channel signing techniques

Russell O'Connor roconnor at blockstream.com
Sat Mar 21 16:59:47 UTC 2020

On Sat, Mar 21, 2020 at 12:46 PM Tim Ruffing via bitcoin-dev <
bitcoin-dev at lists.linuxfoundation.org> wrote:

> Hi Pieter,
> Let's take a step back first. If we believe that malicious hardware
> wallets are big enough of a concern, then signing is only part of the
> problem. The other issue is key generation. The PRG from which the seed
> is derived can be malicious, e.g., just H(k_OO,counter) for a key k_OO
> chosen by the hardware manufacturer. I haven't seen an argument why
> attacks during the signing model should more realistic than attacks
> during key generation, so I'd be very hesitant to deploy anti-covert
> channel singing protocols without deploying protocols for key
> generation that are secure in the same attacker model.

Public keys are deterministic and can be spot checked.  In fact, AFAIU if
hardened HD key derivations are not used, then spot checking is very easy.

While spot checking isn't ideal, my original concern with the synthetic
none standard proposal was that it is inherently non-deterministic and
cannot ever be spot checked.  This is why anti-covert signing protocols are
so important if we are going to use synthetic nonces.
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