Securing Address Transparency For Proof-Of-Reserve Based Wallet Exposure

| November 17, 2023

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Proof-Of-Reserve Based Wallet Exposure

The expansion of blockchain and cryptocurrency use cases develops promising innovations every day. The novel digital asset class is breeding several class of protocols that brings unique possibilities and improve existing financial and technological applications. However, their novelty is causing difficulties for the ecosystem’s users. A lack of user understanding is the working of the assets and the unclear regulations surrounding them, that are turning Institutional wallets traceability a headlining problem. 

These hurdles are the reasons behind one of the crypto industry’s biggest catastrophes. Late 2022 saw the collapse of FTX, a massive crypto exchange liable to over a million customers at the time of its cessation. The firm reportedly misappropriated about $8 billion during its insolvency, taking advantage of weak transparency regulations and user inexperience with the asset class.

The contagion spread like wildfire, wreaking havoc over crypto markets already receding. FTX’s mishandling of user funds sent shivers down cryptocurrency holders’ spines, leading to mass withdrawals from several exchanges because of the collective distrust in centralized players. As a result, we saw several exchanges and custodians provide Proof-of-Reserves (PoR) attestations to show their solvency and regain trust. While some centralized crypto firms were known to submit PoR attestations before FTX’s fall from grace, the trend of releasing PoR has caught on tremendously ever since.

How Proof-of-Reserves Helps Build Trust?

PoR is a process that helps crypto firms to be transparent with users, whose assets they store and manage, and regulators. Offering transparency at this layer was crucial to large exchanges after the events of late 2022 to get the crypto community back on their side. If a regulated and well-reputed exchange like FTX could indulge in utter fraud, what prevents other mammoth exchanges from doing the same? PoR allows centralized crypto entities to prove to their users that all their assets are held within enterprise wallets, assuring them the platforms remain solvent and their withdrawal requests can be honored.

Since crypto assets fall under regulatory grey areas and crypto holders are not protected like fiat holders are by governments financial bodies, crypto enterprises cannot maintain fractional reserves. The implications are that they cannot invest or lend the crypto assets that users entrust them with. On the other hand, banks operate with fractional reserves as they can rely on central banks to bail them out during bank runs and cash crunches. Crypto exchanges and custodians do not have the same privilege. Naturally, those indulging in utilizing user deposits for their benefit are frowned upon by most users. Several jurisdictions also ban crypto enterprises from channeling user deposits to profit for the same reasons.

PoR is used to analyze if a protocols storage are enough to honor all its users’ withdrawal requests at any given time and prevent bank-run type situations. That means the platforms must maintain their storage wallet balances in a 1:1 ratio with the liabilities they owe their users. Such is only possible when user deposits remain unused in a dedicated and secured custodian’s storage. Regulators are asking crypto enterprises to publish PoR attestations frequently to maintain transparency and honesty in their operations. While most undertake PoR protocols monthly or quarterly, some release attestations daily to stay absolutely plausible.

Crypto enterprises carry out PoR with the help of independent, third-party auditors who analyze the deposits made by every user on the platforms and merge them cryptographically into an immutable Merkle Tree. The cryptographic root of the tree depicts the total deposits the enterprises are liable to their users for. 

Simultaneously, the platforms must execute transactions from their storage wallets to prove they control them. Blockchain explorers show the transactions occurring from the wallets and their balances, proving they belong to the platforms. Now, the holdings on these wallets are analyzed to form an attestation. If they are equal to or larger than enterprise liabilities, the platforms are attested to be solvent and in the green. Those maintaining balances lesser than what they owe pose red flags and are considered insolvent.

Proof-of-Reserves May Enhance Transparency But Can Jeopardize User Assets

PoR is a necessity as cryptocurrency witnesses burgeoning utilization and increasing fraud. However, the process also publicizes exchanges custody wallets in the open, drawing the attention of many with destructive intentions. The rise in PoR undertakings can be linked to several exchange hot wallet attacks, with cybercriminals walking away with thousands of dollars worth of cryptocurrency.

Hot wallet attacks are one of the crypto industry’s biggest banes. Incidents from the distant and recent past still arouse fear in crypto firms and the community. For instance, the Mt Gox attack of 2011, the Binance attack of 2019, and the Kucoin attack of 2020 drained millions of dollars in digital assets from their hot wallets. Investigations revealed Mt Gox fallaciously stored all funds in its custody in hot wallets, resulting in an exploit of over $800 Million worth of Bitcoin and its closure. Crypto enterprises are presently more prudent, storing over 90% of the assets in their custody in secure cold wallets. The remaining find themselves in their hot wallets for instant withdrawal purposes.

That is not to say that minimal hot wallet funds are insignificant. They can still account in the hundreds of thousands and even the millions when user action is peaking. Exchanges and enterprises may find themselves insecure by frequently revealing their hot wallet addresses for PoR purposes. Liminal addresses those concerns with its industrial-grade secure storage solutions, preventing exploits on exchange wallets.

Safeguard Your Enterprise Wallet Addresses Revealed During Proof-of-Reserves

Liminal’s asset storage infrastructure provides exchanges with algorithm-enabled cold, warm, and hot wallet channels. The infrastructure ensures secure storage in offline cold wallets, and instant withdrawal capabilities in hot wallets. They are protected through multisig and MPC capabilities, fortifying them from attacks launched from sources external and internal to the enterprises. Moreover, their private keys are sharded and shared with Liminal alongside multiple enterprise personnel. Such checks make the more vulnerable hot wallets near-impossible to hack.

Additionally, its warm wallet offering, also known as the Smart Refill Wallet, ensures frequent replenishment of enterprise hot wallets based on policy protocols set by enterprise management. Factors like limits to the funds moved between platform wallets, transactional frequencies, and recipient whitelisting govern the automated movement of assets within the infrastructure.

Moreover, Liminal offers a consolidated storage approach, allowing enterprises to deal with over 1800+ digital assets on a single interface. Managing crypto assets for institutional and retail clients never got more secure and effortless than this. With Liminal’s storage solutions, crypto exchanges and enterprises can strive to offer the utmost transparency through PoR measures without worries of attacks on the assets under their management. If are concerned about your PoR address, get a security review done and start securing hot wallet address and continue being admissible for user asset holdings.

More on Crypto

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

As we continue constructing a fully regulated digital asset custody platform, ensuring secure storage for both crypto and fiat assets remains a critical priority. 

To facilitate the last checkpoint of enabling institutions to convert their digital asset treasury into fiat currency, we’re expanding beyond pure wallet infrastructure and integrating seamless fiat off-ramp capabilities for our partners.

We’re thrilled to announce our partnership with Encryptus, licensed and compliant off-ramp solutions tailored for institutional clients. This collaboration elevates Liminal’s service offerings by empowering our partners to convert their digital asset treasuries into fiat currencies efficiently.

Integrating A Seamless Off-Ramp Solution

The digital asset ecosystem historically faced friction points when transitioning between fiat and cryptocurrencies. Off-ramp solutions address this pain point by enabling efficient and streamlined conversion between asset classes, minimising value loss and simplifying compliance processes.

Here’s how off-ramp changes the game:

  • Reduced Friction: Frictionless conversion minimises delays and operational complexities associated with traditional fiat-crypto exchange methods.
  • Enhanced Efficiency: Streamlined workflows expedite asset conversion, increasing speed and cost-effectiveness for institutional and individual users.
  • Optimised Value Preservation: Advanced off-ramp solutions prioritise minimising price slippage and value loss during conversion, protecting user portfolios.
  • Simplified Compliance: Integrated compliance features navigate regulatory complexities, ensuring adherence to relevant financial regulations.

With our partnership with Encryptus, we have embedded their institutional-grade APIs, connecting their off-ramp solution within Liminal’s wallet and custody platform. 

This integration simplifies our clients’ liquidation requirements while keeping their assets secure and more:

  • Effortless Digital Asset to Fiat Conversion: Our partners will be able to access treasury management and facilitate business payments in 54 countries and individual payments in an extensive network of 80+ countries.
  • Streamlined Compliance and Regulation: Our partners will be able to leverage Encryptus’s rigorous licensing and compliance framework, ensuring adherence to stringent financial regulations.
  • Enhanced Platform Value: We will be able to expand the functionality of the Liminal custody solution, attracting institutional users seeking comprehensive digital asset management capabilities.

Moving Towards A Robust Off-Ramp Partnership With Encryptus

The partnership between Liminal and Encryptus earmarks a significant step forward in secure digital asset custody, representing a shared commitment to pushing compliant practices while supplying institutions with easy access to convert their digital assets to fiat. 

For Encryptus, the opportunity to integrate with Liminal’s established platform presents a chance to reach a wider audience and scale their innovative off-ramp solutions to new heights. By streamlining fiat conversion within Liminal’s secure custody infrastructure, Encryptus gains access to a trusted network of institutional users seeking seamless and compliant treasury management.

For Liminal, this collaboration reinforces our dedication to partnering with companies that demonstrably prioritise clear governance and robust policy frameworks. By aligning with Encryptus’s stringent compliance standards, we reaffirm our commitment to building a secure and sustainable future for digital assets, where trust and regulatory certainty go hand-in-hand.

January 22, 2024

Hello world, it’s that time of the month when we share the biggest security breaches in the world of Web3 through our Security and Regulatory Newsletter. 

Liminal believes in optimizing security and custody practices globally across the Web3 industry. Through our Newsletter, we highlight security, regulations, and compliance incidents that have happened in the past month and how one can follow better Security practices to safeguard their digital assets. 

We will also highlight regulatory changes that might have happened globally, which were significant to the overall ecosystem.

Dive in and get a detailed analysis of everything security and regulation in the domain of web3 with Liminal’s Monthly Security and Regulatory Newsletter.

Web3 Security Compromises in January

Abracadabra exploited for almost $6.5 million, Magic Internet Money stablecoin depegs

The Magic Internet Money ($MIM) stablecoin has lost its dollar peg again, dipping all the way below $0.77 in a flash crash before returning to around $0.95.

The depeg appears to be related to an exploit of the Abracadabra lending protocol, which allows people to borrow $MIM. An attacker exploited an apparent flaw in the platform’s smart contracts to drain around $6.5 million.

Goledo Finance hacked for $1.7 million

Goledo Finance, an Aave-based lending protocol, was exploited through a flash loan attack. The attacker stole assets estimated by CertiK to be around $1.7 million.

Goledo Finance contacted the attacker to offer a 10% “bounty” for the return of the remaining assets. In a message on January 29, the attacker wrote: “I hacked Goledo and want to negotiate.”

Socket service and its Bungee bridge suffer $3.3 million theft

The Socket cross-chain infrastructure protocol was hacked for around $3.3 million in an attack that exploited its Bungee bridge. The thieves were able to exploit a bug that allowed them to take assets from those who had approved a portion of the system called SocketGateway.

A little over 700 victims were affected, and the highest loss from a single wallet was around $657,000. 121 wallets lost assets priced at more than $10,000.

On January 23, the protocol announced they had recovered 1,032 ETH (~$2.23 million) of the stolen funds.

Web3 Regulatory Practices for January

The EU Imposes Stricter Due Diligence Rules for Crypto Firms

On Jan. 17, the European Council and the Parliament came to a provisional agreement on parts of the Anti-Money Laundering Regulation (AMLR) that now extends to the crypto sector.

Under the new rules, cryptocurrency firms will be required to run due diligence on their customers involving a transaction amounting to €1,000 ($1,090) or more. 

However, the agreement isn’t final yet as it has to be first officially adopted by the Council and Parliament before the rules can be applied.

So, after the EU passed its landmark MiCA regulation last year, which clarified rules about cryptocurrencies, regulators are now targeting the space with tighter controls. 

While these regulations bolster security and trust in the crypto market, potentially attracting more cautious investors and combating financial crimes, they also present challenges. 

The US State of Virginia Introduces Digital Assets Mining Rights

Recently, the Virginia State Senate introduced Bill No. 339, which outlines regulations for the transactions and mining of digital assets and their treatment under tax laws. 

The legislation exempts individuals and businesses engaged in crypto mining activities from obtaining money transmitter licenses. Additionally, it protects miners from any discrimination. 

Issuers and sellers of crypto are also exempted from securities registration requirements if certain conditions are met. Moreover, those offering mining or staking services are not to be classified as “financial investment” but must file a notice to qualify for the exemption.

The bill further incentivizes crypto’s use for everyday transactions by offering tax benefits. Under this, up to $200 per transaction can be excluded from an individual’s net capital gains or gains derived from using crypto to purchase goods or services, starting from Jan. 1, 2024.

Key Takeaways:

  • Hackers continue to exploit vulnerabilities in DeFi protocols and cross-chain bridges, highlighting the need for robust security measures.
  • Regulatory frameworks are evolving rapidly, with stricter AML rules and supportive legislation for emerging technologies like crypto mining.
  • Staying informed about these developments is crucial for navigating the digital assets market safely and responsibly.

Stay #LiminalSecure

These events highlight the constant evolution of Web3 security and regulation. You can confidently navigate this dynamic landscape by staying informed and prioritizing security best practices. 

At Liminal, we’re committed to empowering institutions to unlock the full potential of digital assets without compromising security or compliance norms with our robust custody and wallet infrastructure solutions. Join us on this journey towards a safer, more accessible future for digital assets.

January 15, 2024

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