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The "GoFetch" Attack: A Threat to Bitcoin Security on Apple's M-Series Chips

The "GoFetch" Attack: A Threat to Bitcoin Security on Apple's M-Series Chips

Mar 26, 2024

The "GoFetch" Attack: A Threat to Bitcoin Security on Apple's M-Series Chips

In the realm of Bitcoin security, a new concern has emerged for Apple users with the discovery of a vulnerability in Apple's M1, M2, and M3 chips. This vulnerability specifically endangers your private keys, which are crucial for maintaining the security of assets like Bitcoin.

The Vulnerability

The vulnerability, known as the "GoFetch" attack, is a type of side channel attack. Side channel attacks exploit indirect information, such as power consumption, sound, or computation time, to deduce secret information like private keys. In this case, the "GoFetch" attack targets what are called Data Memory Dependent Prefetchers (DMPs) within the chip architecture. These prefetchers aim to speed up processing by anticipating the data needed for upcoming instructions, but unfortunately, they may also inadvertently leak sensitive information.

GoFetch: Critical Vulnerability in Apple’s M-Series Chips
This is not ideal. It’s probably not a good idea to create bitcoin private keys with Apple M-Series chips.

Implications for Bitcoin Security

For Bitcoin users, this vulnerability presents a significant threat, especially if an attacker gains physical access to a Mac containing the user's Bitcoin wallet or keys. Such an attack could potentially allow an attacker to extract the private keys, which are the essence of ownership and control over one’s Bitcoin assets.

Mitigation Strategies

Preventative measures against such attacks are limited, as the vulnerability is inherent to the hardware design. Software solutions exist but could drastically reduce system performance. The most effective solution would be to replace the Mac's CPU; however, this is neither practical nor economically feasible for most users.

Recommendations for Bitcoin Users

Bitcoin owners are advised to never store large amounts of Bitcoin or their private keys on devices that could be vulnerable to such attacks. Best practices include:

  • Utilizing hardware wallets, like Coldcard or Blockstream Jade, for storing Bitcoin private keys.
  • Keeping only small amounts of Bitcoin on hot wallets, similar to the cash one might carry in a physical wallet.
  • Avoiding hardware wallets from companies supporting multiple cryptocurrencies due to a potentially larger attack surface.
  • Staying away from do-it-yourself security measures unless one has an in-depth understanding of the technology involved.


The "GoFetch" vulnerability underscores the importance of vigilant security practices for Bitcoin users, particularly those utilizing Apple hardware with M1, M2, or M3 chips. While Apple has been notified of the vulnerability, users must take proactive steps to secure their assets, primarily through the use of trusted hardware wallets and careful management of private keys.


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