The Digital Bitbox : An extremely minimalistic hardware wallet

Introduction

The Digital Bitbox is a Bitcoin hardware wallet which focuses on minimalism and security. The wallet is a simple black USB device with a micro SD card slot. The device is plastic, hence does not feel as premium as say a Ledger Nano, but the translucent cover makes it look great from a distance and gives it a finished and polished exterior. However, it more than makes up for its plastic body in the functionality department. The price tag on it is $120, which is justified by its attention to minimalism and security.

The way that this wallet stands out from the rest is its unique way of backing up wallet seeds wherein a user can insert a micro SD card into the device and backup the recovery seed, which reduces the amount of risk drastically as the keys are not displayed on a screen.

The Digital Bitbox is made by Shift Devices, a company based in Switzerland, whose goal is to make privacy simple and standard. With the focus on simplicity and security in the Digital Bitbox, they are doing just that.

Shift Devices was co founded by Jonas Schnelli and Douglas Bakkum. Schnelli, an entrepreneur was known to be a Bitcoin Core developer. Bakkum was a neuroengineer, who has a very diverse background spanning robotics, AI, mechanical engineering, bioart and cognitive science.

digital-bitbox
The Digital Bitbox

 

Unboxing

The cardboard box, which adds to the minimalist feel, contains :

  • The Digital Bitbox
  • A 4GB Micro SD card

There’s no instruction manual, however the box directs you to digitalbitbox.com/start.

The Digital Bitbox

The Digital Bitbox looks like a portable Micro SD card reader, with a plastic, translucent exterior which gives it a finished, simplistic look. It is filled with epoxy, which makes it extremely durable and portable. Inside, it has a single purpose microcontroller, a capacitive touch button for confirmation, and LED for user information and a tamper resistant chip that stores your private keys along with a micro SD card slot.

The Digital Bitbox wallet requires a password to unlock it, unlike the traditional pin that most of the hardware wallets use. For a security measure, 15 wrong attempts to unlock the wallet will result in it getting reset. The Micro SD card is for the backup of the wallet, in case someone accidentally resets it. The special part about this backup system is that you are allowed to backup your wallet anytime.

As for the security, your private keys never even see the light of your computer, much less the internet, even during the creation or the backup of your wallet. A high-quality hardware random number generator is used to create a set of hierarchical key-pairs along with an extended private key code for restoring the private keys (BIP32). The keys that are in the device are stored with encryption on a tamper resistant high security chip which has a 50 year lifespan and prevents physical data extraction. Since the private keys are never displayed, if someone steals your wallet password, they still can’t use it unless they have physical access to your wallet as well as the device you use for the 2FA.  As for the USB connection, it encrypts it with AES-256-CBC which prevents glitching and timing attacks.

The device also comes with multisig support out of the box, as well as support for altcoins.

Setting up the wallet

The process of setting up the wallet is incredibly simple, be it on OS X, Windows or Linux (32 bit is not supported in Linux). You will first need to download the app from the official start page. The device as such requires no drivers at all! Although on Linux you need to run the following :

  • Open a terminal window where the app is downloaded
  • Run chmod u+x DigitalBitbox_*_Linux64
  • Open the app
  • If the device is not detected, run printf “SUBSYSTEM==\”usb\”, TAG+=\”uaccess\”, TAG+=\”udev-acl\”, SYMLINK+=\”dbb%n\”, ATTRS{idVendor}==\”03eb\”, ATTRS{idProduct}==\”2402\”\n” | sudo tee /etc/udev/rules.d/51-hid-digitalbitbox.rules > /dev/null
  • If it is still not detected, run printf “SUBSYSTEM==\”usb\”, SYMLINK+=\”dbb%n\”, GROUP=\”plugdev\”, MODE=\”0664\”, ATTRS{idVendor}==\”03eb\”, ATTRS{idProduct}==\”2402\”\n” | sudo tee /etc/udev/rules.d/51-hid-digitalbitbox.rules > /dev/null

All you need to do after opening the app and connecting the device is generate a new wallet and back it up to the Micro SD card, after which you won’t be needing the card until you need to restore it.

Additionally, you can setup the Digital Bitbox mobile app on Android or iOS for the 2 Factor Authentication.

Alternatively, one can use Electrum 2.0, or the chrome extensions.

Using the Digital Bitbox

To start using the wallet, you need to connect it to your PC and open the Digital Bitbox app and enter your password. If you enter the password wrong fifteen times, it will be reset.

To make transactions, you need to go to the send tab and enter the recipient’s address and the needed amount and create the transaction. Once that is done, you need to confirm the transaction either by touching the top of the device for 3 seconds or authenticating it from the mobile app.(Note that a top on the top of the device will abort the transaction)

One can then verify the correct signing of the transaction by scanning the QR codes that will be displayed before you are asked to approve the payment.

To receive Bitcoin, you can head over to the receive tab, where you can copy the address required by the sender. Additionally, you can generate new addresses and verify the current address.

Pros

  • Slim form factor, extremely simple

Cons

  • Too costly as compared to other hardware wallets like the trezor and ledger nano

Conclusions

Overall, the wallet, with its focus on high security and simplicity, is definitely a must buy for those with a paranoia of having their funds stolen. Although the wallet more than makes up for its lack of a premium feel, people who do like holding something which makes them feel good are going to be pretty disappointed. Also, the cost of the wallet is something to be noted, since one could get something similar to a Ledger HW.1 or a Ledger Nano for nearly half the price. However, one should also understand that one does not get the same level of security in other hardware wallets.

All in all, if you have the funds to purchase this wallet, then go for it, as it certainly gives you the bang for your buck.

Cryptosteel: The indestructible cold wallet

At the core, a Bitcoin wallet is nothing more than a private key. Anyone who owns such a key is able to spend its corresponding funds through the Bitcoin network. Consequently, many “cold storage” methods are available for users to store their private keys in a safe and offline environment.

Cryptosteel is an indestructible backup tool for storing sensitive information as a sequence of alphanumeric characters engraved on stainless steel. Therefore, it’s perfect for storing private keys, passwords, or wallet recovery seeds in a most safe manner.

Cryptosteel is truly fire-proof and resistant to practically any physical threat

Characters must be assembled manually from the supplied set of steel letter-blocks. After enclosing the private sentence into the cryptosteel case, users can rest assured that their private key is completely secure and will resist any weather condition or physical disaster.

Of course, the cryptosteel must be stored in a safe and private place to prevent access from malicious parties.

Cryptosteel is designed to be used as a long term storage device. One might think of it as a form of “paper wallet”, except AISI 304 grade stainless steel is by all means more reliable than paper.

It is not only highly durable, but also portable and aesthetically pleasing

It is actively being developed in Poland by Wojciech Stopiński along with a group of expert metallurgists, and it’s made with the highest quality materials to ensure the construction of a fireproof and corrosion resistant, yet lightweight cold wallet.

You may also like:

Ledger suite of products – an overview of 3 hardware wallets.

Bitcoin trezor review

Digital BitBox overview – swiss ideals in a hardware wallet

Distinctive Features

Cryptosteel is able to store up to 96 characters worth of confidential information at a given time. And it comes with more than 250 letter blocks to choose from, so that users can assemble practically any combination of characters and words to form the desired private string.

As the assembly of characters is done manually, it’s possible to use Cryptosteel to store not only Bitcoin private keys, but any confidential information, passwords or even keys for other digital currencies.

Given its tangible nature, it’s possible to use Cryptosteel to generate a truly random key by randomly picking the characters out of a bag, for example.

As most bitcoin wallets implement BIP39, one recommended use case is to store a sequence of mnemonic words. That way, Cryptosteel is able to secure multiple wallets deriving from a single master seed. As the list of possible words is predefined, it’s sufficient to store a recovery seed by using only the first 4 letters of each word.

Cryptosteel can secure any BIP39 wallet by storing a single master seed

 

Shipping with Trezor

Cryptosteel development team has recently begun working with SatoshiLabs, the creators of Trezor hardware wallet. This partnership has contributed in refining Cryptosteel’s original design, and now the indestructible cold wallet is being shipped together with Trezor as an effective and secure form to store the Trezor wallet recovery seed.

Cryptosteel can be ordered as a bundle together with Trezor for $99, and they both work as an infallible combination for Bitcoin security.

“Cryptosteel now represents an advanced TREZOR Recovery seed card. It’s anonymous, offline and confidential but moreover, it’s really durable, resistant to fire or water.”

Alena Vranova, Director of Satoshilabs

Note that the cryptosteel can also be used along with other hardware wallets such as Ledger nano, HW1 etc

   Ledger nano review

Open Hardware

Cryptosteel is an open source project, which means that all the blueprints are available under Creative Commons licence. That means anyone is able to check on the manufacturing details, and users are free to manufacture or even improve current Crypstosteel design, given they have the required equipment and materials.

Crowdfunding Campaign

Cryptosteel was launched on May 2015 as a crowdfunding campaign at IndieGogo. The original goal was to raise $8000, but the project has managed to gather more than $29,000 so far. Production and shipping has successfully started already, although they’re still accepting contributions.

The product comes in two different varieties:

“Mnemonic” unit:

Mnemonic unit comes with a set of letter tiles ready for storing BIP39 backup seeds. Therefore, it includes more than 250 lowercase letters and numbers.

   Buy Cryptosteel from BuyTrezor.com

Mnemonic unit can be ordered at the campaign site for $45 (plus shipping).

“Any key” unit:

This Cryptosteel unit is made to store any Base64 character string, thus it comes with a set of more than 320 blocks, which includes lowercase and uppercase letters, as well as numbers and some special characters. This unit can be ordered at the campaign site for $50 (plus shipping).

Commons Supporter Contribution

It’s possible to contribute with Crypstosteel development with $15 or more at the project website, in which case contributors can be publicly credited as project supporters and will be treated as part of the team.

Summary

Cryptosteel is quite an original project in the digital currency space, and it’s been positively received within the internet community. Cryptosteel allows you to secure your funds in an offline, everlasting and stylish cold wallet, without having to disclose any information to a third party.

Cryptosteel team is constantly working on improvements and giving feedback to its customers through social media. So far, they’ve managed to deliver a great quality product, offering the following features:

  • Private, off-line storage for private keys and passwords
  • Hand-crafted, lightweight, stainless steel
  • Indestructible, acid­-resistant, and uncrushable
  • Fireproof up to 1200 C or 2100 F
  • Open-Hardware: blueprints available under CC License
  • Compatibility: Bitcoin and all cryptocurrencies
  • No tools necessary

All in all, Cryptosteel is a very practical choice for bitcoin and altcoin users, and it’s available for a decent price. Moreover, by combining its unique features with Trezor, major levels of security can be achieved in a most convenient manner.

 

 

For more information, visit the official site.

   Buy cryptosteel from buytrezor.com

The Ledger suite of products: Nano, Unplugged & HW1

In this post, we have a look at all the products that Ledger has to offer, excluding the Ledger Blue which will be covered extensively later.

Ledger Nano:

Ledger nano is a smart card powered bitcoin hardware wallet which implements the same practices that have been used in the banking industry. It looks similar to most of the slim USB Pendrives that are currently available in the market and is extremely easy to use. It features a secure EAL5+ element which handles all the processes such as transaction signing, private key storage etc. This also means that the ledger nano can be used in a compromised environment. Weighing a tiny 5.87 grams, and capable of 500,000 read/write cycles, and durable for up to 30 years, the ledger nano is capable of fulfilling every bitcoiner’s needs.

 

 

 

 

 

 

As with all the ledger products(except the ledger unplugged), the ledger nano is compatible with the following bitcoin wallets:

  1. GreenAddress
  2. Electrum(software wallet)
  3. CoinKite(Multisig supported)
  4. Copay(Multisig supported)
  5. Mycelium(Android)
Ledger Duo + Strap

The Ledger nano comes in different packages:

  1. Classic: Standard ledger nano with accessories bundled in.
  2. Duo: 2 Ledger Nano’s operating the same bitcoin wallet(Save 16.5 Euros)
  3. Duo + Strap: A ledger nano packed into a silicon wristband and the other, a standard ledger nano.

   Buy Ledger Nano

Ledger HW1:

 

The Ledger HW1 is similar to the Ledger nano, except that it features a different form factor and it costs just 15 Euros as compared to the 29 Euros of the Ledger nano. In simple terms, the Ledger HW1 is a low cost version of the Ledger nano while offering the same set of features as that of nano. It is made up of Plastic and Silicium, and weighs just 0.75 grams

Ledger is offering a set of limited edition HW1’s which celebrate their partnership with 5 major bitcoin wallet’s at no extra cost.

The ledger HW1 ships with the following:

  1. Recovery sheet
  2. Instructions sheet
  3. Security card
  4. The Ledger HW1

There are 4 available packages:

  1. Classic: Standard Ledger HW1 + accessories
  2. Limited edition(Copay, CoinKite, Mycelium, Electrum, GreenAddress branded HW1’s)
  3. Multisig: 3x Ledger HW1’s + accessories(save 4.5 Euros)
  4. Enterprise: 10x Ledger HW1’s (Save 51 Euros!)

   Buy Ledger HW1

Ledger Unplugged:

https://www.ledgerwallet.com/r/0d34?path=/products/6-ledger-unplugged

In a partnership with Fidesmo, ledger recently rolled out an open source NFC enabled bitcoin hardware wallet, the Ledger Unplguged. Essentially, it is a bitcoin wallet running on a Java Card. All you need is an NFC supported device to communicate with you Ledger Unplugged, and you’re good to go. The device is based on a EAL4+ standard Java card, which is widely used by banks, governments and healthcare systems. Moreover, the card can be used for various other purposes, some of which are: PGP, FIDE U2F, OTP(one time password) etc.

The card is just 1 mm think and weighs 5.4 grams, and has a length of 85 mm.

NOTE: You need an NFC enabled smartphone to use the Ledger Unplugged.

   Buy Ledger Unplugged

Ledger OTG:

https://www.ledgerwallet.com/r/0d34?path=/products/4-ledger-otg

Ledger also offers an OTG connector, which is essential to connect the Ledger nano and Ledger HW1 to your smartphone and operate your bitcoin wallet. It costs a mere 4 Euros and is definitely worth it.

   Buy Ledger OTG

Ledger Starter:

Ledger Starter is a tiny USB device which, when plugged into your Desktop/laptop/mac(Macbooks aren’t supported) boot up a secure linux based operating system which can be used for initializing and recovering your Ledger nano/HW1.

   Buy Ledger Starter

 

Overall, Ledger has constantly been innovating and they have a lot of things that are yet to come which make things even more interesting. Bitcoin hardware wallets, whether we like them or not, are here to stay and Ledger is here to help bitcoiners safeguard their bitcoins while at the same time providing amazing user experience.

Ledger Wallet Nano Review: Extremely affordable and feature rich

Ledger is one of the cheapest and most affordable hardware wallet developed by French-based company founded by the team behind BTChip , La Maison du Bitcoin and Chronocoin. Having raised around €1.3m in the seed funding round, they have been committed to the development of high-level security hardware for bitcoin storage.

The Ledger Nano, a hardware wallet currently priced at €29, features a bank-grade security smart card and a minimalistic design. This, combined with an extremely neat and smooth user experience, makes Ledger one of the best bitcoin hardware wallet’s around.  Note that support for Ethereum is coming soon for the Ledger Blue, the flagship privacy device which is also a hardware wallet.

Unboxing

The Ledger Wallet Nano is a compact USB device approximately the size of a small flash drive. However, unlike the average USB drive , the Ledger Nano relies on EEPROM (Electrically Erasable Programmable Read-Only Memory) smart card, which offers the same security of traditional credit cards. The box is similar to the minimalism Apple showcases in the packaging of its iPhones, iPads etc.

The box contains the following items:

  • The Ledger Nano
  • An instruction manual
  • A security card
  • A leather cover for the security card
  • Recovery Sheet

The Ledger Nano

At first, the Ledger Nano looks just like an average USB flash drive, made of plastic with a swivel aluminium cover for safe storage and portability. It measures 61 x 12 x 4 mm and weighs just 5.87g. The smartcard chip embedded in it offers a 30 year guarantee.

In order to set up and execute transactions, the Ledger Wallet needs to be plugged into a computer. As this is a potential point of compromise, the device provides an additional security layer by prompting the user for a PIN and a security card “challenge”. Also, transactions are signed internally; the private key never leaves the wallet. The company also sells Ledger starter, which is preinstalled with a secure OS which you can use for setting up and recovering your wallets. This eliminates the risk of compromises. Even better, if you know how to burn a .iso file onto a USB drive, you can make your own Ledger starter by downloading the official .iso from the website.

Read more about the Ledger starter here.

The Ledger nano is an HD (Hierarchical Deterministic) wallet, which means that it’s capable of generating a tree of key pairs from a single starting point known as a seed, which is generally a list of mnemonic words. This also means that once this seed is generated and written down, it’s possible to replicate the keys in any other BIP32 compliant wallet.

Setting up the wallet

The setup process is simple, but it requires installing a Google Chrome app that can be downloaded from the official Ledger website.

Once the app is running, it prompts the user for choosing a PIN or automatically generating one. Then, a 24 word mnemonic seed is generated, which should be written down, preferably on the recovery sheet and stored safely.

The mnemonic seed is the only way to recover the wallet in case of loss or theft. It can be used to initialize a replacement Ledger Nano, but it can also be used in any BIP32 compliant wallet such as Electrum or BitGo, mycelium etc.

Airgap initialization

As sensible information is displayed at the setup phase (mnemonic word recovery seed), the initialization process is a weak point for this wallet, since it requires the host machine to be totally uncompromised. One suggested way to circumvent this issue is by doing an “airgap initialization”, which is doing the whole process from a live operating system on a USB stick without internet connection. This can be mitigated by using a ledger starter, which we just talked about.

Instructions on this method can be found here.

Using the Ledger Nano

For using the wallet, the device must be inserted into a USB port and the correct PIN must be introduced. As a security measure, if a wrong PIN is introduced 3 times, the wallet resets itself completely.

To make transactions, the user enters the recipient’s bitcoin address or scans a QR code and enters the desired amount to be sent.

 

Security card

As the Ledger wallet doesn’t feature a screen to confirm transactions, a security card is provided as a form of two-factor authentication. The security card contains a set of random generated alphanumeric pairs, which the user must introduce at the time of confirming new payments.

Whenever a new transaction is about to take place, a security card “challenge” is issued, where 4 random characters from the receiving address are selected, and the user must enter their corresponding characters from the security card. All transactions must be validated this way.

A complete tutorial for setting up and using the Ledger Wallet Nano can be found here.

Pros

  • Compact and elegant design
  • Relatively low cost
  • User-friendly interface
  • Smartcard security

Cons

  • Runs only on Chrome
  • Wallet software doesn’t show fiat values when transacting
  • It depends on host computer safety for initialization

Conclusions

Overall, The Ledger Nano is a very well made and secure hardware wallet offered for a considerably low price. The setup process is easy and the interface is very intuitive, making it a very practical solution not only for long-term storage but also for frequent use. However, it relies on using an uncompromised computer for the installation phase. The lack of a screen or embedded buttons makes it depend too much on the host computer security. This is a vulnerability point hat has to be taken into account.

In future releases, it’s probable that the Ledger team will include a screen and other overall improvements. They’re also working on a Ledger Unplugged, which utilizes NFC (Near Field Communication) for interacting with smartphones and other devices.

You can find useful related discussion threads on reddit and bitcointalk.

 

Overall, the ledger Nano is an extremely affordable wallet which offers a variety of features. We have experienced zero difficulty so far and have been fully satisfied with what the Ledger team has to offer. In addition to this, ledger recently announced the Ledger Blue, which is an extremely advanced next generation bitcoin hardware wallet.

Buy Ledger Nano
Ledger Wallet protects your bitcoins

 

Bitcoin trezor review: The best bitcoin hardware wallet

The Trezor bitcoin hardware wallet seems reasonably priced for the features it offers, powered by a 120 MHz ARM Cortex M3 processor and a 128×62 LED screen, developed by SatoshiLabs who are also behind CoinMap and Slush Pool, the trezor is essentially, one of the easiest and most secure means of storing large amounts of bitcoins without worrying about them. Customer support was nothing less than excellent- having some trouble with the connection on the device which turned out to be a problem with the USB cable, customer service offered to check the device and send a replacement if it was found to be faulty.

The Trezor is still one of the cheaper options available when compared to the more recent Case hardware wallet which is priced at $199, has more advanced features such as a biometric authentication, multisignature technology(NOTE: Trezor supports multisig) etc. It might be possible that Trezor will face stiff competition for their customer base as time goes by. However, choosing the trezor will not disappoint you as is meets all of your requirements, including a few additional features in addition to having excellent features which are beyond the spectrum of bitcoin such as SSH support, beta MyTrezor with additional features to organize your bitcoins with ease in addition to plans of implementing support for GnuPG.

The Trezor arrived within a week(courtesy of DHL express shipping) in a small padded envelope, the Trezor contained is a thin cardboard box which was a little crushed from the delivery. The packaging and design was sleek and clean and to prevent compromising the device the box was sealed with a tamper evident hologram. Inside was the Trezor, two micro USB cables, the recovery seed card(to note down the mnemonic during setup), 4 “Bitcoin trezor” stickers and a sheet containing some basic instructions to start using the Trezor.

Design

The design is modern and hardwearing, perhaps even utilitarian in it’s appearance, the plastic has a matte styled finish(not completely) which is pleasing to handle. The screen is clear, if slightly low resolution(as compared to the smartphones that we’re used to) while the two buttons used for signing and other functions feel solid and sound a soft satisfying click upon pressing.

The device is extremely light (surprisingly so) and the only issue I have with the build quality is that it feels that it could crack under pressure. Aesthetically, the Trezor looks great apart from a small friction/snap mark on the top of the device where the case had obviously been removed from the injection mold during manufacture.

Unfortunately as I mentioned before the small violet micro USB cable provided was not functioning properly causing much frustration when initially setting up my Trezor. This is apparently a common issue with Trezor purchases and while not a deal breaker for me when choosing a hardware wallet, it is frustrating that such a basic part is not of a good enough quality to use consistently, be sure to have a backup micro USB.(however, the issue was fixed and everything has been smooth since then)
The Trezor certainly lives up to the aim of being a portable and convenient method to transport your bitcoins in a safe way, it’s small enough to fit into a pocket without bulging or sticking out and is discreet enough to not draw attention to a user.

The Trezor is as easy as their website says it is, once you have setup the private key from a seed (and once you have written this down, which is really important) your ‘account’ is then linked to that Trezor, this is using the proprietary site mytrezor.com. Using this site you can easily setup further security, create receiving addresses, sign and verify addresses and of course send bitcoin.

Quick overview of Trezor setup:

  1. Go to mytrezor.com and install the Trezor Bridge plugin/extension
  2. Restart your browser
  3. Now you should be able to name your Trezor as soon as you return to mytrezor.com
  4. Once named you will be prompted to fill out the seed that is generated on your Trezor displayed on the small screen. Check this list carefully and once you are done, you will then need to configure your security settings and other important stuff.

Security

Trezor is by far, one of the most secure Bitcoin hardware wallet featuring a unique, self-arranging 3×3 matrix. When initialising the Trezor, you are required to set a pin which can be a minimum of 6 numbers. This pin is then used every time you plug the trezor into your workstation or mobile. Besides this, one can also set a passphrase in mytrezor.com which raises the number of security checkpoints by adding another factor of security to your funds. Note that if you lose your passphrase, you cannot recover the funds. Hence, it is a good practice to note down your passphrase with your recovery seed and store it safely.

Trezor passphrase protection

When you send bitcoins and sign the transaction the Trezor still isolates your private key (so it is still essentially offline and the transaction is signed inside the device) and with the extra layer of security offered with a pin a lost or stolen, Trezor is all but useless without both. The password is obvious enough, but the pin employs a clever method of displaying a 3 by 3 matrix on the Trezor display and asking you to use your mouse to input the pin code- the matrix changes every time so even while using a malware infected computer, you are essentially safe.
The Trezor is a single use computer and actually signs the transaction on the device without the need to send your private keys to the computer it is being used with. In this respect Trezor is very similar to the model employed by the software wallet Armory which uses an air-gap and signing of transactions on an offline computer, unfortunately with Armory this means that sending bitcoin can be a little slower. But Trezor means that this process of signing and sending is greatly increased and will only take a fraction of the tie taken to execute a transaction through Armory

Sending and receiving bitcoins through Trezor

Sending bitcoins is fairly easy and takes seconds to complete. All you need to do is navigate to the “Send” tab on MyTrezor.com and enter the bitcoin address and amount. MyTrezor also supports sending bitcoins to multiple recipients through additional entries or by importing the addresses through a CSV file.

Send bitcoins to multiple reciepients

Receiving bitcoins is pretty much the same. Head over to the “Receive” tab on MyTrezor.com and you can generate new addresses which can subsequently be used to receive bitcoins into your trezor.

If using their website is not ideal for you, then you have the option of the hardware wallet being compatible with Mycelium (Android) using a micro USB OTG cable and desktop application MultibitHD. In addition to this, the recovery seed is also compatible with the Electrum software wallet.

Trezor apps

The trezor can be used with an array of bitcoin related websites/services either to login/sign up safely or to increase the usability of your trezor. A few noteworthy apps are:

  1. Sentinel: A sleek android app which requires your xPub. This enables you to generate new addresses on the go and receive bitcoins without actually using your trezor. In addition to this, you can also have a look at the transactions associated with the account.
  2. MyceliumMycelium is a mobile bitcoin wallet which supports the trezor through OTG. You can also use this app as a watch-only wallet similar to Sentinel.
  3. CoinPaymentsPayment processing service which supports trezor login
  4. TeleBit: Bitcoin wallet for the privacy-centric Telegram messenger app. Instructions on how to use it can be found here.
  5. CoinPrism: A wallet which implements the Open assets protocol. A brief overview of this protocol can be found here.

In addition to this, work is under progress to implement a “Sign in with trezor” feature for WordPress, Drupal and Slush pool. There are also plans to add support for CoinKite & Copay.

Pros

  1. Extremely safe, the private key never leaves the device
  2. Awesome stuff yet to come(integrations into bitcoin exchanges, support for mobile wallets such as CoinKite, Copay etc)
  3. Can be used with mobile – The mycelium wallts supports trezor through OTG, which makes spending bitcoins very easy.
  4. Multiple accounts on MyTrezor.com make it very easy to manage bitcoin funds
  5. You can easily track your balances and generate new addresses without the trezor wallet through the sentinel bitcoin watch only wallet, which is pretty amazing.
  6. Extensive integrations with services/apps such as TeleBit(telegram bitcoin wallet), CoinSimple, CoinPayments.

Promo Code: Currently not available. BUY from here

Conclusion

Overall Trezor is a solid product that meets and exceeds the security requirements of the average user. Being portable, user friendly and most importantly: secure. The only worry you have as a user is where to store the backup of your private key. While the idea of writing down and storing your private key does open up the same attack vectors as keeping cash hidden somewhere, there are obviously many ways someone may store this sensitive information. Hiding it is only one aspect, the concerned individual could encrypt there own private key/seed or store it in such a way to make it unintelligible to a thief or even someone with computer knowledge. Encryption has a long history and only needs a few minutes spent on researching bitcoin security to learn creative and useful ways to protect your valuable keys. The Trezor itself is safe to use and brings bitcoin wallets to a new level of convenience and accessibility and is particularly useful if you are someone who has to travel or move around a lot.

So, if you’re looking for an extremely secure bitcoin hardware wallet that has amazing features, look no further, the Trezor is by far, one of the most feature rich hardware wallets with advanced security measures.

Buy Bitcoin Trezor

CoolWallet: a wallet that fits in your wallet

In the bitcoin hardware wallet ecosystem, security is no doubt, the topmost priority. However, a simplified approach coupled with ease of use is something every bitcoiner would want. One of the issues might be that of a hardware wallet being bulky and it requires you to connect the wallet to a host device through a cable. This is where CoolWallet comes in.

CoolBitx is a company based in Taiwan, which has been dedicating its resources to the development of CoolWallet: and extremely portable, durable, practical and secure hardware wallet.

CoolWallet is a credit card sized cold storage device specially designed not only to protect your private keys, but also to provide you with a quite simple way to spend your bitcoins.

The project has been funded and promoted through the crowdfunding platform Indiegogo, in which it successfully reached the $20,000 goal intended in order to complete the work. CoolWallet development is already in its final stage and it promises to be launched soon for a price of $119.

 

A Wallet that actually fits in your wallet

One of the main features of CoolWallet is that it’s truly the size of a credit card, and it’s even just as flexible and durable as one.

CoolBitx’s team of expert engineers has managed to incorporate a minimal screen using e-paper technology, all necessary microcontrollers, a touch button and even Bluetooth and NFC sensors into a device so thin and flexible that it’s perfectly able to fit in your wallet.

CoolWallet complies with ISO7810, which is the standard defining the physical characteristics for identification cards. It’s resistant to deterioration from exposure to light and heat, its flexibile enough to be bent for 15 degrees, and it’s even waterproof.

Using the CoolWallet

CoolWallet allows managing up to 5 different accounts, and it can be paired to 3 different smart devices, to which it connects via NFC (Near Field Comunication) or BLE (Bluetooth Low Energy). Each account can be used to generate an almost unlimited set of public/private keys, complying with the BIP32 standard. The generating seed must be backed up for restoring the wallet in case of theft or loss.

Simple Flow

To send bitcoins, a smartphone application is used. Recipient address can be pasted or you can scan a QR code. Then the CoolWallet receives the transaction and it generates an OTP (One Time Password) which is then sent to the phone by “double tapping” the CoolWallet over the phone.

After confirming that the OTP is correct, you must press a “proceed” button from the app, then the CoolWallet displays the amount to be sent and it awaits for user confirmation. Finally, the transaction is signed by pressing the button on the CoolWallet.

This process can be further simplified by disabling the requirement to press the device button for final confirmation, but having it enabled adds another layer of security against potential malware or man-in-the-middle attacks.

As you can see, the process for signing transactions is extremely simple. CoolWallet effectively combines the security of hardware wallets with the simplicity of mobile payments.

Other features

CoolWallet comes with an NFC battery charger; no cables are needed.Smartphone application includes a “watchdog” functionality, which alerts the user when the wallet is 1-10 meters away from the phone(configurable by the user). However, if your device is ever stolen or lost, you will be able to recover your bitcoins by using the seed backup.

CoolBitx’s plans

It seems CoolWallet is only the starting point of CoolBitx’s ambitious strategy for innovating in the Bitcoin space. They revealed to be working on a decentralized exchange for CoolWallet users, providing the capability to buy and sell bitcoins directly from the wallet.

Also, they have partnered with SmartDisplayer and InfoKeyVault Technology, two hardware manufacturers, to start building Point of Sale devices that only require tapping on the terminal in order to pay with CoolWallet.

Conclusion

CoolWallet is definitely a breakthrough innovation in the space of hardware wallets and Bitcoin in general. By offering safe and simple means to store and spend bitcoins, CoolBitx might be accelerating widespread adoption at a beneficial rate.

In the rapidly growing industry of hardware wallets, it’s quite satisfying to see original and innovative proposals such as this, exploiting state-of-the-art technologies such as e-paper and NFC interfaces to bring about useful services to this nascent community.We are looking forward to see further advances from CoolBitx team and its promising projects.

However, there doesn’t seem to be an android app for the wallet, which is a major cause of concern.

Digital Bitbox wallet overview

Digital Bitbox is a hardware wallet as minimal as it can get. It only creates and keeps private keys for signing bitcoin transactions, and it’s used by connecting to a computer as a plug-and-play USB drive.

It is a one-piece device. No cables or battery chargers are needed. All you do is plug the device into your USB port and you’re good to go!

digital bitbox walletSecure Private Keys

As most hardware wallets, Digital Bitbox secures your private keys in a tamper-resistant microcontroller. The keys are never transferred out of the device.

Private keys are generated internally during the initial setup. A high-quality hardware random number generator(RNG) is used to create a set of hierarchical key-pairs along with an extended private key code for restoring the private keys (BIP32). The extended private key can be stored in a micro SD card, allowing the wallet to be backed up offline.

By backing up the extended private key in a micro SD card, there is no need to display sensitive information on a screen or having to write it down(this also happens to be the reason the device doesn’t generate mnemonics, but generates an extended private key ). In the same way, you can load your own keys into a Digital Bitbox device by inserting a private key backup into the micro SD slot, or via the USB interface.

Using the Digital Bitbox

Digital Bitbox is quite a minimal wallet; the only thing it does is generate and store your private keys while allowing you to sign new transactions. By plugin the device into a computer USB slot, it allows the user to confirm transactions by just pressing and holding a button.

All USB communication is password encrypted using the AES standard. A password must be set during setup. Brute force password attacks are not possible since the device will reset after 5 incorrect attempts.

The company has built a native Desktop app which is compatible with Windows, Mac, and Linux. Apart from this, Electrum and Chrome extensions seem to be available, but are not maintained by the company.

Two-factor authentication

A smartphone app can be downloaded in order to activate two-factor authentication, making it more resistant to man-in-the-middle attacks. Note that you will need to pair the app with your wallet in order to confirm transactions in your phone. To do this:

  1. You will need your computer’s IP address which is displayed in the desktop app.
  2. Tap on “pair device” in the mobile app.

     

Upon receiving a transaction to sign, the mobile app automatically receives the information if connected to WiFi. Aternatively, you can manually scan a QR code for the information. If the information displayed is correct, you must press and hold Digital Bitbox’s touch button for 3+ seconds. In case you’d like to cancel the transaction, you can just press the button briefly. The mobile app is open source and the source code can be found here

Firmware updates

One of the main features of the Digitial Bitbox initially(in the early stages) was the fact that firmware updates were not needed and not possible.

However, the team later decided to allow firmware updates, although third party updates are not possible.

Co-founder Douglas Bakkum notes that the user can verify whether that the code running on the Digital Bitbox matches the Official Code on Github. This is possible because the firmware can be deterministically built and ported into the Digital Bitbox.

NOTE: Digital Bitbox code is open source, so it can be easily audited.

Pros

  • Two-factor authentication.
  • encrypted communication over USB.
  • Erase and reset after 15 failed attempts, eliminating brute force password attacks.
  • Offline backups via Micro SD card.
  • Open source code.
  • Multisig compatible(The digital BitBox can act as one or more out of the many signers of a multisig wallet using Copay)
  • Extremely portable and durable.
  • Free shipping.

Cons

Conclusion

Digital Bitbox is a very practical, portable and secure hardware wallet. One of its most innovative features is the micro SD slot, allowing the user to make backups in quite a simple and secure way. There’s no need to write down your private key or make an app display it on a screen, which is a potential point of failure in case of compromised computer hosts.

Buy Digital BitBox

Note: The article has been updated to reflect the changes in the hardware wallet(firmware updates available, no electrum plugin and chrome app, native app development etc). Digital BitBoxopened its online store on 25th March, 2016.

BitcoinHardwareWallet.org will be reviewing the Digital BitBox shortly!

An insight into BitStash – hardcore bitcoin security

 NOTE: THE OFFICIAL BitStash website is currently offline

Image courtesy: CoinTelegraph.com

While most of the hardware wallet alternatives in the market offer a decent degree of security for storing bitcoins, many of them also tend to sacrifice some user experience in lieu of security. Bitstash is a hardware wallet that aims to offer the best possible of both traits.

Bitstash features a 3-tier storage solution in order to tackle all the major use cases for bitcoin users: home wallet, mobile wallet, and cold storage.

Each one of these services is designed to be used in completely different ways. In this manner, Bitstash features high level security while also offering a friendly and versatile user experience. Bitstash provides everything the user needs for using Bitcoin, from daily spending to long term cold storage of funds.

The Bitstash company sells the basic edition of its hardware wallet for $159, while also offering an “Ultra” edition for $199, and a FIPS certified Bitstash wallet for $499.

The Bitstash

The core of this technology is the Bitstash, a cylindrical device that communicates over heavily encrypted Bluetooth messages with the host computer or any other registered device, including mobile phones and tablets.

The Bitstash itself functions as a home wallet, protecting private keys with a series of anti-tampering mechanisms, including the ability to self-destruct in case of physical tampering attempts (this is only available in the Bitstash ULTRA edition).

In order to secure transactions, the user first enters a PIN, then the device generates a captcha image that must be resolved from the application interface, and lastly it emits a specific color through its LED ring, which must be matched by selecting the square that most closely resembles the color being displayed.

All data is transmitted over strongly encrypted bluetooth connection, rendering all communication highly resistant to data sniffing and middlemen attacks.

Mobile wallet

For the most casual and frequent use, there is a mobile wallet, which functions as most mobile wallets do. It’s designed to keep small balances, backed up by the device. It can also generate public BIP32 addresses to receive funds directly to the home wallet or the cold storage.

Providing a mobile wallet is very practical, since the user doesn’t need to integrate Bitstash with third party wallets in order to work.

Cold storage

For long-term storing of bitcoins, the package comes with a doubly encrypted USB drive, which cannot be used unless plugged into the Bitstash. This is made to be kept in a considerably safe place.

All the data on the USB drives are encrypted with the user’s password and then with the user’s PIN. Additionally, the drives are LUKS encrypted and can only be read by a Bitstash device.

 

 Conclusion

So far, Bitstash is the only hardware wallet solution that actually defines an architecture of components covering the whole spectrum of bitcoin use cases: making purchases on the street, making transactions from home, and securing long-term savings with cold storage. Each of these layers is made to be in sync with each other in a very simple way while also offering high grade security mechanisms, including an innovative color captcha for securing transactions, among other authentication factors. Also, it promises to support major alt-coins like Dogecoin and Litecoin.

 

 

 

Case bitcoin hardware wallet – a brief overview

Case bitcoin hardware walletOne of the major barriers between Bitcoin and the average non-tech-savvy user is the inherent complexity in Bitcoin technology, especially regarding the diverse world of bitcoin wallets. Most secure methods for storing bitcoins require technical knowledge that is outside the scope of average people, and most user-friendly services lack the tight security that is undoubtedly needed in the Bitcoin space.

Hardware wallets are a good security solution for storing funds, but few of them offer a truly intuitive and simple user experience.

The Case Wallet

After more than a year of hard work, the New York based startup formerly known as CryptoLabs launched its hardware wallet solution: Case, a credit-card sized portable hardware wallet, integrated with a little screen, a camera, a fingerprint sensor(yes, biometric authentication) and a few buttons.

Case is aimed at offering the most simple way for people to use Bitcoin, while also maximizing security, wiithout compromising on ease of use.

The wallet is currently available for pre-order for $199 from their official site and promises to be shipping this summer.(EDIT: The case has already shipped and is currently sold out)

Using the wallet

One of the principal usability flaws in the majority of hardware wallets, is that most of them are not really “wallets” in the full sense of the word. That is, you can’t send bitcoins from them, or at least not without integrating them with other wallets or special computer-hosted applications. For example, the trezor requires a host computer, or a mobile phone(which supports OTG) to use the wallet.

Case wallet is not only made to safely store bitcoins, but it’s also capable of executing transactions by itself. Featuring a GSM embedded chip, Case doesn’t rely on phones or computers for internet access,  being able to directly sign and broadcast transactions to the Bitcoin network.

Also, the device has an integrated camera to scan QR codes, and a fingerprint scanner for authentication.

For using the Case wallet, only 3 steps are necessary:

  1. Press the ฿ button.
  2. Scan the recipient address’ QR code.
  3. Swipe your finger on the fingerprint reader.(yes, a swipe)

That’s it.

This is certainly a very simple interaction flow when compared to most other hardware wallets.

Also, users can connect their Case account to the Celery exchange. After verifying their US bank account with Celery, users are able to buy and sell bitcoins from their Case wallet. Though, this is only for US based users, it is still a major advancement in the way bitcoin hardware wallets have evolved over the past few years

Security features

Case is a multisignature wallet, requiring 2 of 3 different private keys, in order to effectively sign new transactions.

One key is in the device itself, kept by the user. The second key is held by the company. And the third one is kept in an offline safe vault, managed by Third Key Solutions, a cryptographic key management provider founded by Andreas Antonopoulos.

In case of theft or loss, users need only to report it to the company, and they’ll still be able to recover their funds with the third key.

Biometric authentication

The use of biometric authentication is one of the most innovative features of the Case wallet. Other hardware wallet alternatives often rely on multi-step confirmation methods, passwords, security cards and captchas, which are most probably secure, but not as user-friendly as just swiping your finger on your device.

Once a new transaction has been started, it’s only signed by the company private key if the fingerprint scan matches the user’s biometric data.

However, an image of the user’s fingerprint isn’t directly stored at Case servers. Instead, a geometric template of the fingerprint is encrypted together with all other sensitive user data in what they call the User Data Encryption Key (UDEK). The key to decrypt such data resides solely in the device.

All communication between the device and the servers is secured by TLS (Transport Layer Security). Also, sensitive data is encrypted with a shared symmetric key that is unique for each device.

Pros

  • Extremely easy to use, allowing to quickly spend bitcoins directly from the device.
  • Multisignature validation, providing enough security without complicated extra steps.
  • Biometric authentication. No need for passwords or security cards.
  • Practical and portable design.
  • Ability to buy and sell bitcoins.
  • Built-in inductive charging coil. No ports or wires.
  • Open source firmware.

Cons

  • You need to rely on the company servers, adding a level of trust, which not many would want to do.

Conclusions

Case is definitely one secure and clever solution for any type of user. It offers high security while also making it extremely easy to use bitcoins on a daily basis or for long-term storage, and even buy or sell bitcoins.

However, having to rely on their servers to sign and execute transactions adds a layer of trust that is not particularly desirable in the context of bitcoin wallets. The only disadvantage is that Case is too pricey at $199, which not everyone would want to spend on a hardware wallet. Compared to the trezor, which costs $99(half of the price of Case)

All things considered, the Case wallet is indeed a very innovative alternative, which is clearly oriented to boost Bitcoin adoption by providing strong security along with a very simple interaction process to anyone.

Bitcoin Hardware wallet: The definitive guide

vault final

A bitcoin wallet is usually a file which contains the private keys required to access and spend bitcoins associated with a bitcoin address. Naturally, you need to make sure your private key is secured in order to maintain a high degree of security for your bitcoin funds. There are many reasons why a bitcoin hardware wallet, though a bit costly should be chosen for storing the bulk of your bitcoins. In this post, we run through a few of them and explain what is a bitcoin hardware wallet.

 

 

Private keys are everything – hardware wallets make them secure

Having access to your private key means absolute control over the bitcoins allocated to your public address. Off late, there have been many compromises and hacks of highly commendable exchanges such as the Bitstamp hot wallet hack which resulted in the loss of around 19,000 bitcoins, the bitfinex hot wallet hack, and the Mt. Gox incident. Anyone who is able to access to your personal computer or your preferred online wallet server and is able to get a grip on your private key becomes capable of stealing your money in just a matter of seconds. Encrypting the private keys is not quite feasible since a hacker can easily snoop on your pass phrase by using a keylogger or a RAT. That’s how most of the major bitcoin thefts have occurred, specially from internet based wallet services and exchanges.

 

phishing

What is a hardware wallet?

A bitcoin hardware wallet is a specialized electronic device for storing and handling bitcoins in a considerably safe manner. It provides most of the basic functionalities any software/web-based wallet has, while still capable of protecting your private keys from pernicious outsiders.

Another cheap, but effective means of storing private keys secure is by using a paper wallet, which consists in generating the keys from an offline environment and printing the public key and private key. However, due to their nature, paper wallets don’t provide any means to actually sign new transactions; the key still needs to be introduced to a proper software wallet in order to spend the bitcoins, exposing it to the risk of middleman attacks or malware residing on the host computer.

Hardware wallets, on the other hand, offer the safety of cold storage solutions like paper wallets, while still providing the practicality of interactive wallet software.

In a hardware wallet, the private key is usually stored in a protected microcontroller and it cannot be transferred out of it. In simple terms, the private key is stored in an isolated environment. All the transaction signing is done from the device and the private key never moves out of the hardware wallet. Also, most hardware wallet manufacturers include additional layers of security by prompting the user for some form of two-factor authentication in order to execute payments.

All this seems to be quite good, but how much do hardware wallets cost?

Current prices range from $17 (Ledger HW1) to $499 (Bitstahs FIPS). Each wallet has its own pros and cons. While some are aimed at the everyday bitcoiner, others are targeted towards institutions which store large volumes of cryptocurrencies. All of these will be covered extensively at BitcoinHardwareWallet.org

Main advantages:

  • Electronically secured private keys.
  • Safe from viruses and malware.
  • Ability to sign transactions offline.
  • Usually providing means to backup and reconstruct private keys in case of loss.
  • Most hardware wallets are capable of being operated on compromised host computers.

Disadvantages

  • Risk of physical damage or loss.
  • Impractical for frequent spending.

Conclusions

While there’s no such thing as an invulnerable system, hardware wallets certainly provide a level of security that is far superior when compared to computer hosted and cloud based wallets, making them ideal to store funds in the long term. For the frequent use, however, hardware devices might come as a bit impractical, given the security layers one must get through in order to sign transactions. Most users tend to use a hot wallet (connected to the internet) for daily spending, while keeping their savings in a hardware device.

As technology advances, hardware wallets are becoming safer and more usable each time. There are quite a few interesting choices in the market already, such as Trezor, Ledger Wallet and HW.1. And we’ll certainly be expecting many improvements and new alternatives coming out. Currently, there are quite a few hardware wallets in the development stage such as the digital bitbox, mycelium bitcoincard, all of which are promising and feature packed.