HSM Mode Features

USB Protocol for HSM Mode

New Commands

There are some new commands added to support HSM mode. Check out the latest version (1.0 or higher) of ckcc-protocol for the details and command-line example code. In summary, new commands include:

  • hsms - HSM Start (after uploading JSON policy file)
  • hsts - Return HSM Status (gives JSON values, see below)
  • nmur - Create a new user
  • rmur - Delete a user
  • user - Provide authorization details for a user
  • gslr - Read contents of Storage Locker

Only specific USB commands are whitelisted for use once HSM mode has been activated:

  • logo, ping, vers: harmless/boring
  • upld, sha2, dwld, stxn: upload/download/sign PSBT needed; firmware blocked
  • mitm, ncry: USB encryption setup
  • smsg: limited by policy msg_paths
  • blkc, hsts: report status values
  • stok, smok: completion check: sign txn or msg
  • xpub: limited by policy allow_xpub but m always allowed
  • msck: multisig wallet quick check
  • p2sh, show: limited by HSM policy: allow_addrs
  • user: auth HSM user, other user cmds not allowed
  • gslr: read storage locker; hsm mode only, limited usage

All other USB commands will fail during HSM mode.

Unchanged Commands

The key commands for uploading and signing a PSBT file are not changed. This means you could use Electrum with a Coldcard in HSM mode.

HSM Status Response

You can query the state of the HSM features in the Coldcard at any time, and should expect a simple JSON document as the response.

When the HSM is not enabled, you will get a short response like this:

% ckcc hsm
{'active': False,
 'chain': 'XTN',
 'policy_available': False,
 'users': [],
 'wallets': []}

Once enabled, the result depends heavily on the priv_over_ux setting, and the many other values in your HSM policy.

% ckcc hsm
{'active': True,
 'approvals': 0,
 'chain': 'XTN',
 'last_refusal': None,
 'pending_auth': 0,
 'period': 720,
 'refusals': 0,
 'sl_reads': 0,
 'summary': 'Transactions:\n'
            '- Rule #1: Up to 0.00001 XTN per txn will be approved\n'
            '\n'
            'Velocity Period:\n'
            ' 720 minutes\n'
            ' = 12 hrs\n'
            '\n'
            'Message signing:\n'
            "- Allowed if path matches: m/84/0'/0' OR m/3\n"
            '\n'
            'Other policy:\n'
            '- MicroSD card will receive log entries.\n'
            '- Storage Locker will be updated, and can be read 2 times.\n'
            '- XPUB values will be shared, if path matches: m OR m/3.\n',
 'uptime': 3284,
 'users': ['alice', 'bob', 'baz']}

With priv_over_ux enabled, the status response is minimal:

% ckcc hsm
{'active': True,
 'approvals': 0,
 'chain': 'XTN',
 'last_refusal': None,
 'refusals': 0}
Understanding the Status Response

Here are the fields of the status response.

  • active: is the HSM mode activated?
  • chain: either BTC or XTN (testnet)
  • last_refusal: short text explanation of why the last request failed
  • approvals, refusals: counts of number of PSBT or msg signings done
  • period: number of minutes in the period (from policy file)
  • uptime: number of seconds the Coldcard has been running
  • users: list of defined Coldcard users
  • next_local_code: if defined, one or more rules needs local confirmation, and this value is a factor in the PIN calculation. 15 bytes encoded in Base64.
  • summary: text of the policy as shown to user during confirmation step
  • sl_reads: number of reads of the storage locker
  • period_ends: number of seconds until the current period ends
  • has_spent: a list of amount spent in this period, by each rule (in order by rule)
  • pending_auth: count of auth details already submitted before PSBT received

Not all will be present depending on policy and system state.

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