Double Spending

| November 17, 2023

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Double Spending

As blockchain technology witnesses increased usage, it is important to know the frontiers it surpasses in the digital payments landscape. You can, essentially, hold your own value and transact it as you please to peers on the network you use. Third parties like financial institutions and centralized payment processors are absent from the equation, enabling anyone with an internet connection to transfer value to their peers while maintaining complete control over their assets and actions.

Before the blockchain arrived in the payments world, there were several attempts at creating digital payment systems that did not involve centralized overseers. The developments, in fact, ended up needing to involve some form of centralization in their processes. While there are sufficient reasons to develop decentralized digital payments, as exhibited by the success of several blockchain networks, it was impossible to overcome certain issues with decentralized payments. Bitcoin’s introduction as a functional blockchain in 2009 changed that, allowing the digital payments landscape to conquer problems like double spending and finally embrace decentralization.

What Is Double Spending?

Double spending is an issue with peer-to-peer decentralized payments networks, including certain blockchains, where the same units of digital currency can be spent more than once. With blockchain, specifically, they are attacks on a blockchain network that allows attackers to spend the same cryptocurrencies twice. Although blockchain technology eliminates the possibility of double spending at a fundamental level, it can be achieved in certain rare conditions.

Basically, attackers can convince the recipient that an initiated transaction will deliver the promised cryptocurrency, but the funds never reach the recipient. Such an instance enables attackers to spend the same cryptocurrency in a subsequent transaction. The subsequent transaction invalidates the previous one, ergo, allowing them to pull a fast one. Otherwise, they can invalidate an executed transaction by manipulating the blockchain. Accomplishing the latter is immensely hard and is not a concern for most blockchain networks that have their basics right.

While there were several attempts to create a truly decentralized digital payments network, centralization always crept in. The issue was that without a centralized entity overseeing the state of the network, it was near impossible to develop a system that prevented the possibility of spending the same digital currency twice. After all, who is keeping a check on your transactions? Or the balance in your accounts preceding the transaction you just made?

The absence of intermediaries facilitating the bookkeeping activities of a financial network made it possible for users to replicate transactions and spend the same units of value again. Thus, such projects barely made it as working products and remained conceptual. Those that did witness usage inculcated centralized practices to prevent double-spending.

Decentralized and distributed networks faced the Byzantine General’s Problem. In a nutshell, the anonymous parties governing the functioning of the networks were susceptible to attacks from bad actors, like malicious counterparts wanting to double-spend digital currencies. Although centralized practices evade the problem more than they eliminate it, the need for decentralized alternatives brought us the Bitcoin network, which addressed the issue.

Blockchain And Its Ability to Ward Off Double Spending

Thanks to the use of cryptographic methods to store transaction data on the blockchain and the Proof-of-Work consensus mechanism to mine blocks and confirm transactions — blockchain technology found a solution to the double-spending issue. Satoshi Nakamoto, the party behind the creation of Bitcoin, is responsible for bringing these developments. The Proof-of-Stake consensus mechanism, more popularly adopted these days, follows PoW’s footsteps in providing blockchain networks immunity against double-spending.

Blockchain technology secures confirmed transaction data on blocks that are added consecutively to the blockchain. The blocks are cryptographically hashed to secure the transaction data they store in them. Cryptography makes the data in the blocks immutable, preventing bad actors from changing the recorded transaction data. Further, the stored data, acting as the transaction history, is written on every block and maintained transparently for everyone to see.

Blockchain transparency and immutability offer a decentralized ledger that allows the entire network to verify the balances held by each user. It helps assess if the users indeed have the cryptocurrency they want to spend. Those on the network can, hence, identify double spending efforts. The identification is mostly made by network participants — miners or validators depending on the consensus mechanism — who are rewarded for adding the verified transactions on blocks and attaching them to the chain.

Because of the incentive mechanism, the network participants are determined to act in the best interest of the network. Since network security and upkeep yield profits, the network participants are likely to identify malicious attempts to double-spend cryptocurrency. Immediate consensus is reached by the network participants to deem the malicious blocks as invalid and keep up the network’s integrity. Thus, blockchain networks face significantly low chances of witnessing double spending incidents.

More on Crypto

The evident rise of digital asset adoption is directly proportional to the rise of institutional participation, aiding and abetting the cause of making them easily accessible and safe to operate, following the standard norms of compliance. 

With the pace at which institutions are throwing liquidity in the market, amping up the count for daily transactions made, the need for building user-compatible applications, stringent monitoring engines, and fully customized workflow processes to detect anomalies becomes inevitable for the digital assets market. 

Currently, most institutions managing their wallets on either a self-custody infrastructure or integrated with a qualified digital asset custodian manually drive transaction monitoring, leading to bottlenecks and missed opportunities in detecting risks. 

This problem arises primarily for such institutions’ security and compliance teams, whether they should run behind increased security or strive for efficiency. 

Enter Liminal Firewall–a dynamic, policy-based solution designed to secure and automate digital asset transactions by monitoring them for risk and compliance checks for your custody account. 

Aimed at solving complexities involved in institutional wallets and automating the process of checking transactions for risk and compliance based checks. 

Understanding risks in institutional transactions

For institutions, the risk profiles for each transaction are different; that needs not a standard rule of checks to identify and eliminate them, but a more customized approach.  

The spectrum of vulnerabilities in digital asset transactions is vast. It includes anomalies in transactions that may signal market manipulation, irregularities in compliance checks that could expose institutions to risk, and even the potential for fraudulent actors to divert funds to illicit addresses. Tackling these challenges requires a comprehensive and strategic approach.

Risk assessment doesn’t stop at secure transactions. As operations expand, automation becomes crucial. It streamlines workflows, identifies potential security and compliance issues, and facilitates efficient monitoring, ultimately leading to a more robust risk management system.

But, building a middleware solution is just as hard as building a completely secure network for institutional wallets. 

Liminal Firewall Engine

Securing Transactions Dynamically

Liminal’s Firewall introduces dynamic policy control to your organization’s transactions. By screening them against multiple parameters, it ensures that every transaction, whether incoming or outgoing, meets the highest standards of security and compliance.

The Intuitive Rule Engine

Using Liminal’s intuitive rule engine, craft policies that align with your business risk profile. These fully customized, rule-based policies track and approve transactions, pre-screening them for security, compliance, and anomaly threats before reaching the signer.

Ensuring Travel Rule and KYT Compliance

Leverage Liminal’s built-in integration with compliance providers like Notabene and TRM Labs. This integration facilitates seamless adherence to travel rules and Know Your Transaction (KYT) compliance, automating your entire compliance operation according to jurisdictional requirements.

Customizing Firewall Policies for Your Needs

Customise firewall policies to meet your specific needs, regardless of the transaction type or scale. Explore key policies:

  1. Transfer and Limit Policy:
  • Define transfer and withdrawal limits: Set maximum amounts for individual transfers and withdrawals based on asset type, user roles, or risk profiles. This prevents unauthorized large-scale movements and helps manage operational risks.
  • Schedule transfers and withdrawals: Allow predefined transfers to occur automatically at specific times, simplifying recurring payments or investments.
  • Multi-approval workflows: Implement multi-signature authorization for exceeding specific limits, adding an extra layer of security to prevent unauthorized transactions.
  • Whitelisting trusted recipients: Limit transfers to pre-approved addresses, enhancing security and reducing the risk of accidental or fraudulent transactions.
  1. Travel Rule Policy:
  • Automatic data collection: Seamlessly collect required transaction details (sender, recipient, amount, timestamp) for transfers exceeding designated thresholds.
  • Secure data sharing: Integrate with Travel-Rule compliant platforms to securely share data with other VASPs (Virtual Asset Service Providers) as mandated by regulations.
  • Configurable thresholds: Set different thresholds for different jurisdictions or asset types, ensuring compliance and optimizing data management.
  • Auditing and reporting: Generate comprehensive reports on Travel Rule compliance and data sharing activities, facilitating regulatory audits and internal monitoring.
  1. Transaction Risk Policy:
  • Dynamic risk scoring: Apply risk scores to each transaction based on factors like transaction size, destination address, sender’s risk profile, and historical activity.
  • Real-time risk assessment: Implement real-time transaction monitoring to identify and flag suspicious activities based on defined risk parameters.
  • Customizable risk factors: Tailor risk parameters to your specific requirements and risk tolerance, ensuring a balanced security and operational efficiency approach.
  • Automated alerts and notifications: Receive immediate alerts about high-risk transactions, allowing for swift intervention and investigation if necessary.
  1. Transaction Anomaly Policy:
  • Advanced anomaly detection: Leverage machine learning algorithms to identify unusual transaction patterns deviating from historical baselines, potentially indicating fraudulent activity.
  • Customizable anomaly rules: Define specific rules for detecting anomalies based on factors like transaction size, frequency, location, or time of day.
  • Granular alert levels: Set different alert levels based on the severity of the detected anomaly, enabling prioritized investigation and response.
  • Integration with external services: Integrate with threat intelligence platforms to leverage additional data and insights for enhanced anomaly detection.

How Liminal Firewall works?

Imagine a seamless flow that empowers security and compliance teams. Liminal Firewall sits at the critical juncture, monitoring all the inbound and outbound transactions to check if they come under the risk parameter or execute if they pass the parameter. 

  • Policy Setup: Tailored, custom policies are established to counter key threats.
  • Automatic Enforcement: The policies are enforced automatically, eliminating the margin for manual errors.
  • Integration: Liminal Firewall integrates compliance and risk-checking mechanisms.
  • Initiation: Transaction starts within the institutional workflow.
  • Liminal Firewall Analysis: Real-time analysis of transaction details against predefined policies.
  • Policy Enforcement: Automatic application of tailored policies to mitigate risks.
  • Decision Categorization: Transaction goes through three categories of approve, decline, and review requested  
  • Signing: If the transaction gets approved for all parameters, it goes to the signing phase

How Liminal Firewall Works

Integration with Notabene & TRM Labs for compliance checking

From compliance giants to technology pioneers, Liminal Firewall unites the best minds in the industry. This collaborative spirit fuels our commitment to your digital asset security. 

  • Travel Rule by Notabene: Strengthening cross-border transactions.
  • KYC/AML by TRM Labs: Elevating identity verification and anti-money laundering measures.

Reinforce Your Security and Compliance

The surge in digital asset adoption has propelled institutional involvement, emphasizing the necessity for accessible and secure operations aligned with compliance standards. As transaction volumes escalate, the demand for better automation tools to track and mitigate transactional risks become imperative. 

Building a secure institutional wallet and digital asset custody infrastructure at Liminal, configured with an advanced automation engine, our Firewall engine is another step in the process of fast-pacing the everyday operational tasks for security and compliance teams. 

Understanding the multifaceted risks associated with institutional transactions underscores the importance of customized risk assessment and management approaches. Liminal Firewall’s intuitive rule engine and comprehensive policies empower organizations to fortify transaction security, ensure compliance with regulations such as the Travel Rule and KYC/AML, and mitigate various threats effectively.

February 29, 2024

The digital asset industry is more popular than ever, but it still has a lot of gas in the tank. Its current prevalence makes it accepted beyond the niche subsection of retail investors and cryptographic enthusiasts. Financial institutions are also dipping their feet into the digital asset waters, trying to capitalize on the ingenuity the assets bring to finance.

With the recent listing of Bitcoin ETFs by mammoth financial houses, the scope of investing in digital assets for institutional investors has opened up for the better. 

So, what’s changed the game for institutions? Previously, many were hesitant to jump into the digital asset world due to concerns about managing private keys securely, finding reliable custodians, and ensuring smooth transaction processing. 

Digital Assets are catching the attention of all kinds of institutional houses

With the true potential of this asset class far from reached, many investors are flocking to get some, or lots, knowing how their values can be appreciated enormously in the times to come. Assets like Bitcoin constantly show how they can multiply investments severalfold when timed correctly.

Beyond that, digital assets have proved to be great stores of value over longer durations, helping beat the corrosive effects of inflation on fiat currency. Worried about the short-term volatility of these assets, most institutional houses prefer to hold on to them for extended periods.

Family Offices Find Themselves Growing Closer to Digital Assets. 

And that has positioned family offices perfectly to jump into the digital asset landscape. Single- and multi-family offices working to preserve and grow the wealth of affluent, high-net-worth families have begun making digital assets a significant part of their overall investment portfolios, looking to tap into the burgeoning potential of blue-chip tokens and altcoins.  

Blockchain and Web3 implementations depict their ability to transform the tech and finance industries over the coming decades. Logically, family offices are turning to digital assets at the center of the transformation to set future generations up with this lucrative innovation. While these investment strategies look to become generational, family offices must make several considerations, including educating themselves about the asset class and implementing effective risk management strategies.

Choosing the ideal custodian is imperative for Family Offices

A stop-stop solution for Family Offices to maneuver their way into simplified digital asset investing and management is with digital asset custodians

Handling millions or billions of dollars in assets is no sweat for experienced custodians. They have an arsenal of solutions from wallet options like hot and cold wallets, Multi-Sig and MPC configurations compliance integrations, regulatory licenses, institutional-grade custody structures, succession planning tools, and more. But choosing the right one for your specific situation is crucial.

Family offices are best suited to choosing the services of third-party custodians for managing the digital assets in their portfolios. Self-storage solutions come with a steep learning curve and, more consequentially, the possibilities of irrecoverable asset loss if the private keys securing the assets are mishandled or lost. There is no recourse from that, possibly jeopardizing vast amounts of value.

So, relying on reputed custodians specializing in managing digital assets for clients interacting with massive volumes is the best bet for family offices. Their convenience and security make them the pragmatic option for anyone beyond the average retail digital asset investor who deals with less significant values.

What to Look for When Choosing a Custodian

While several custodians operate in the digital asset landscape, family offices must choose the right one for various reasons. Let’s examine what they must focus on and how it can make their interactions with the asset class seamless.

Secure Infrastructure

Dealing with digital assets revolves around secure infrastructure, especially when trusting third parties to manage them. After all, the amount of security breaches around private key handling leads to losses in the billions in the industry every year. Custodians possessing secure infrastructure and integrating best practices to store private keys and transfer data regarding user accounts are the ones to look for.

Identifying such custodians requires checking if they hold cybersecurity certifications, including SOC2 (Systems and Organizations Control 2) and CCSS (CryptoCurrency Security Certification) certificates, which they obtain upon intense scrutiny and audits by the issuing agencies. Simultaneously, custodians engaging in continuous bug bounties and penetration testing stay safe from emerging cybersecurity risks.

Insurance

One thing is sure in the digital asset realm – anyone can be a victim of exploits and hacks despite employing all kinds of cybersecurity protection. Cybercriminals can stay one step ahead of all preventive measures, waiting for the right time to attack. And that can lead to the theft of millions of dollars worth of assets from custodian platforms.

Insurance is the recourse for such inevitable situations, ensuring custodian clients regain lost value. It also helps clients access their value if custodians misuse the funds under management and indulge in corrupt, self-serving practices. Think of the FTX catastrophe that caused losses of user values amounting to multiple billions.

Moreover, insurance providers are very strict about the platforms they insure, doing thorough due diligence before taking custodians on board. So, insured platforms are more trustworthy than those that are not.

Regulation-Oriented

Opting for custodians that focus on regulations is a must. Several jurisdictions have rolled out their digital asset regulations, with many more in the process of doing the same. Those in regulated jurisdictions must possess licenses from regulators overseeing their national crypto ecosystems. Others in countries yet to release relevant frameworks are still answerable to financial regulators.

Ergo, choosing licensed custodians, or those following digital asset and other financial regulations in areas without specific regulations, can save family offices many headaches stemming from non-compliance. They often manifest as having the assets entrusted to the custodians frozen or seized by authorities.

Good Track Record

Family offices must stick to well-established custodians favored by institutions and enterprises in the digital asset landscape. Looking for those operating in the industry with extensive and familiar clientele for considerable periods offers the social assurance that family offices need.

Such custodians have earned their reputations by servicing their clients aptly and focusing on their specific needs, making them better options to manage crypto funds. However, that is not to say that family offices should not consider newer custodian solutions.

Looking for ones that follow all best practices, offer avant-garde features, and work towards building trust in the ecosystem can be highly beneficial. Liminal is a custodian making strides in the digital asset management vertical, providing feature-packed solutions with bank-grade security to family offices. It has also received licenses to operate in multiple jurisdictions thanks to its emphasis on a regulation-first approach.

Comprehensive Reach

The digital asset landscape is evolving rapidly, with new tokens that power highly innovative use cases emerging constantly. Simultaneously, several dApps, including DeFi protocols and DAOs, are scattered across various blockchains, proven to offer high-level yields and profit-generation measures.

Engaging with custodians supporting multichain capabilities and allowing family offices to interact with various digital assets and protocols from various chains is necessary. Moreover, they must offer convenient and intuitive workflows on their platforms for their clients to buy, trade, sell, and utilize digital assets and Web3 applications.

Sensible Pricing

A good custody solution does not equate to being expensive. Several custodians offer economical pricing tailored to the needs and usage of family offices rather than rigid, one-size-fits-all plans. Delegating the custodianship of digital assets to such solutions can keep the billables inexpensive while still providing access to a broad range of features and high-quality service.

Conclusion

Digital assets are bleeding into the portfolios of family offices thanks to their capacity to preserve value, build wealth, and complement traditional investment vehicles as an emerging, speculative asset class. While family offices are accepting it wholeheartedly and geared towards indulging in risky assets, top digital assets’ value retention and inflation-beating capabilities set the asset class up for increased adoption.

Of course, dealing with these assets at any point in time requires family offices to be equipped appropriately. It includes choosing the proper digital asset custodian. Partnering with the right one can make all the difference while treading this novel landscape, allowing family offices to hold and generate value from all facets safely.

February 29, 2024

Digital Asset markets have taken a giant leap ever since their categorization from purely being a volatile alternate investment asset to now being a robust and regulated asset class. 

The journey of digital assets, most significantly that of blue-chip tokens like Bitcoin and Ethereum, has been nothing short of a protagonist in the fight against traditional financial systems, investment avenues, and age-old yield mechanisms. 

However, it was only after the introduction of regulation for these digital assets that they garnered huge institutional interest, pushing the scale of adoption and inviting the likes of family offices to partake in the “coming of age” story of investing in digital assets. 

In the underlying characterization of digital assets as the next best portfolio addition for institutional investors, with a significant boost kicking in after the launch of Bitcoin ETFs(with Ethereum ETFs also on their way), there are still reservations as to how to go about tackling the security, custody, and management challenges that come with them. 

To discuss how current market conditions are driving family offices to embrace portfolio diversification strategies that include allocating funds to digital assets, we dive deep into the intricacies of digital asset custody

Challenges In Secure Digital Asset Investing For Family Offices 

Family offices, traditionally known for their conservative investing approach, sit in the middle of the institutional investors’ branch, bringing untapped liquidity into the market. Conventionally, family offices used to rely only on safer investment bets to accrue value for their investments, but now they are increasingly dipping their toes into the dynamic world of digital assets. 

Despite the potential for high returns, family offices have historically faced significant challenges when considering digital assets as an investment class. Factors such as market volatility, regulatory uncertainty, and the need for established custody solutions have deterred many from fully embracing digital assets.

Talking about the key hurdles family offices face in navigating this exciting but complex landscape, here are some top-of-the-line challenges for them:

  1. Security Concerns: The nascent nature of digital assets presents unique security risks. Hacking, scams, and volatile markets can threaten portfolio stability. Family offices need robust custody solutions, advanced cybersecurity measures, and comprehensive risk management strategies to mitigate these threats.
  2. Regulatory Uncertainty: The regulatory landscape surrounding digital assets is still evolving, creating uncertainty and compliance hurdles. Family offices must stay updated on changing regulations and navigate complex compliance requirements across jurisdictions.
  3. Limited Expertise: Building internal expertise in digital assets can be time-consuming and expensive. Family offices often need more in-house knowledge and resources to properly evaluate, manage, and secure their digital asset investments.
  4. Lack of Infrastructure: Integrating digital assets into existing portfolio management systems can take time and effort. Family offices need secure and reliable infrastructure to seamlessly store, manage, track, and report on their digital asset holdings.
  5. Complex Valuation: Accurately valuing digital assets can be difficult due to their volatility and lack of standardized methodologies. Family offices need robust valuation frameworks and access to reliable market data to make informed investment decisions.

Enabling Family Offices to overcome challenges in digital asset custody

The promise of digital assets is undeniable, yet the hurdles for family offices can seem daunting. 

Overcoming the challenges mentioned above and finding the best probable solutions for them becomes a hardcore reality that must be dealt with utmost precision. 

At Liminal, we work extensively with institutions looking to go one step beyond simply investing in digital assets and look to operate them securely under all circumstances. The same logic applies to family offices as well. 

In our pursuit of building such a robust infrastructure solution, tailored to address the challenges faced by family offices fully and to empower them in their journey to moving to a new asset class for investment, we have created a comprehensive custody solution, integrated best-in-class security protocols and provide real-time monitoring and risk management services to proactively identify and mitigate potential threats, giving family offices peace of mind knowing their assets are secure.

  1. Security Concerns:

Fortress-grade custody: We leverage multi-sig and MPC wallets, leading asset-to-insurance ratios, and bank-grade security protocols to ensure the safety of your assets. Our CCSS Level-3 certification and FIPS-compliant hardware devices go the extra mile, minimizing security risks and providing unmatched peace of mind.

Advanced Cybersecurity Measures: Our vigilant team constantly employs 24/7 SOC monitoring, strict access controls, and penetration testing to identify and mitigate potential threats.

Comprehensive Risk Management: Our experts help you create and implement tailored risk management strategies, considering internal vulnerabilities, market fluctuations, and evolving threats.

  1. Regulatory Uncertainty:

Staying Ahead of the Curve: We have a dedicated team of compliance experts who stay abreast of evolving regulations worldwide. We integrate crucial compliance monitoring in our solutions such as KYC/KYB, AML, and Travel Rule checks, to help navigate complexities across jurisdictions and proactively adapt our services to ensure your portfolio remains compliant.

Streamlined Reporting: Our platform generates comprehensive compliance reports automatically, saving you time and resources while ensuring transparency and regulatory adherence.

Regulatory Partnerships: We actively engage with regulatory bodies and industry leaders 

to become accredited custodians. Currently, we hold a TCSP license in Hong Kong and have also received an IPA from ADGM for an FSP license for our Abu Dhabi entity. 

  1. Limited Expertise:

Your Digital Asset Knowledge Hub: Our team of seasoned custody, compliance, wallet, and security professionals offers expert guidance on evaluating, managing, and securing your digital asset investments. We share industry insights, educational resources, and ongoing support to enhance your knowledge base.

Dedicated Account Management: A dedicated account manager serves as your point of contact, providing personalized guidance and support tailored to your specific needs and goals.

Extensive Resource Library: Access easy onboarding docs, a curated developer section, seamless user-guiding workflow, and trending topic discussions through webinars, research whitepapers, and market reports to build your understanding of digital assets and make informed investment decisions.

  1. Lack of Infrastructure:

Seamless Integration: Our API library, Liminal Express, seamlessly integrates with your existing portfolio management systems, creating a smooth and efficient workflow for managing your digital assets.

Secure Storage and Management: We provide institutional-grade hot and cold wallets for self and managed custody infrastructure, eliminating the need to build or manage complex systems.

Automated Workflows: Streamline recurring tasks and automate key processes with our automation engine, with powerful functionalities like smart refill wallet, smart consolidation, and auto-sweep, enhancing efficiency and reducing operational burdens.

  1. Complex Valuation:

Reliable Data and Valuation Tools: We offer access to trusted market data providers and valuation tools tailored for digital assets, enabling you to make informed investment decisions based on accurate assessments.

Insurance-as-a-Service: We have collaborated with Costero brokers to provide the best possible insurance to our clients that covers their entire portfolio at the best market price. 

Asset segregation and transparency: We deploy segregated accounts, succession planning, and no rehypothecation of assets to allow family offices to maximize transparency and access. 

Embracing the Future Of Family Office Investing 

The future of wealth management includes digital assets. Family offices are actively exploring this burgeoning space, recognizing the potential for diversification and growth. Liminal Custody stands as your trusted partner in this journey. As a regulated custodian, we offer best-in-class security, industry-leading compliance solutions, and a dedicated team of experts, empowering you to invest in digital assets confidently.

Let Liminal Custody guide you through the process, making the path towards secure and compliant digital asset investment smooth and efficient. Contact us today and explore the new frontier of wealth management

Remember, while the potential is promising, navigating the digital asset landscape requires careful planning and collaboration with trusted partners. Liminal Custody is here to equip you with the knowledge and resources to succeed.

February 23, 2024

Find Out How You Can Benefit From A Fully Self-Custodial Wallet Architecture