Bitcoin wallets vulnerable to malware, need better protection, study warns

EDINBURGH, Scotland — A recent study investigating the security features of virtual Bitcoin wallets by researchers at the University of Edinburgh reveals the imminent need for better protection.

The researchers identified several “weak spots” in the security commonly used for Bitcoin wallets, which saves the digital currency in a user’s account so it can be bought, sold, and traded at the user’s discretion.

The computer scientists involved with this study examined the communication between popular models of the Bitcoin wallet and a user’s personal computer, where vulnerabilities exist. They created a simple piece of harmful software, or malware, designed to intercept these communications. They found that they could easily manipulate the Bitcoin in a user’s wallet.

Based on these findings, the researchers, led by Dr. Andriana Gkaniatsou of the University of Edinburgh’s School of Informatics, advocated tighter security measures on these Bitcoin wallets.

“A wallet should protect not only our money, but also our privacy. It was surprising to discover how easy it is to access a user’s funds, even when sophisticated hardware is incorporated,” says Dr. Gkaniatsou in a university release. “Unfortunately, there is no silver bullet when it comes to protecting financial digital assets – we need to ensure that all components of the system are equally protected and interact in a secure way.”

The study was published October 20, 2017 in the journal Information Security.

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