Introducing Trezor and Satoshi Labs
Satoshi Labs is the Czech based company behind Trezor. In Czech, Trezor translates as the “Vault” and it was launched in 2014. Indeed it is a cryptocurrency vault because it if you don’t mess things up, it guarantees safety of your coin’s private keys.
The reason why I give Trezor a lot of flowers is because it does work as marketed. It is sleek, compact and secure. That’s not all. This gadget should be your starter hardware wallet. It is damn cheap and you won’t break your pocket.
Trezor is trusted by the Bitcoin community not because of the experience these guys have but because they walk the talk. With Trezor you got flexibility and connectivity when you want to spend or move your offline coins.
Figure 2: Trezor
Trezor Overview and Interface
On the surface, you will pass Trezor for any other USB storage device. Looks can be deceiving though.
Trezor is small, trendy and lightweight-weighs about 12g because it has no battery. If you have a laptop with you, you can easily plug in the device and even has a strap to attach to say a key chain if you are one of those guys who carry them. It is available in black or white with a plastic anti-scratch cover.
Let’s not forget about the micro USB cable used for powering and linking the device to your windows, Mac or Linux computer.
There were some compromises though: the size sacrificed the screen size. Yes, you can easily hide and carry it with you but its OLED screen’s quite small.
However, it is better this way especially if you don’t want attention. Heck, if someone knows the price of Bitcoin while your Trezor wallet’s bulky, you can easily get mugged right? So, it is better that way. Besides this, you will find it a little bit of water proof. It’s not fully water resistant so don’t drop it in a water pan.
For the tech savvy, Trezor is fitted with ARM Cortex M3 microprocessor and clocks 120 MHZ and two buttons for interacting with the device.
Setting Up Your Trezor
Setting up your Trezor is easy and even straight forward. First things first, make sure you have an internet connection before proceeding. Check that, then plug in your Trezor. The moment you do that, you will be directed to Trezor’s main website where Chrome plugin will be automatically downloaded and installed.
Thereafter, you will have to set up your 4-digit PIN code. Guys, here is what Trezor is a cut above the rest security wise. You won’t need to type anything from your computer. Just press your desired PIN on the number’s displayed on your Trezor’s touch screen. By the way, these numbers aren’t static like a calculator’s and so with every restart, their positions are reshuffled.
Next, you will need to write down the 24 word recovery phrase. Write it down manually as this is the only back up you got just in case you lose your device. There’s a special sheet for that. The creators of Trezor, Czech based Satoshi Labs say this devise is set as per BIP 140 and 144 standards and this means even if you the device is stolen, you can easily recover your coins from devices that support similar standards. Hot or cold wallets like Ledger, Mycelium, and KeepKey can be used for recovery. This whole set up takes about 15 minutes.
I mean even from a novice point of view, he/she will realize that Trezor really tries to simplify the whole set up while keeping security up there. From the PIN code set up and their unique 24 phrase recovery seed, everything is easy. After these 15 minutes, nothing major is left other than using the device.
While transacting you notice that there is minimum interaction with the device and all transactions are approved from the device using the two hardware buttons and not from the computer.
Undoubtedly, this is that other security layer that is much needed. However, remember that Trezor will be called to action only when you are sending coins.
As mentioned before, if you transact often but has a large cache of coins which you are not comfortable being hot, you can store some here and leave a handful at a mobile wallet.
Trezor Security Features
Security wise, Satoshi Lab Trezor is indeed a vault. Let’s begin with the PIN code which you type straight from the device’s screen and not from your computer. This effectively cuts out guys who may be controlling your computer remotely or those tracking your keystrokes using stealthy key loggers.
Another security feature is inherent with the PIN code. Trezor has designed the gadget in such a way that every time you input a wrong pass code, wait time is increased by a factor of 2. That means that if you input the wrong password for 30 consecutive times, you will wait for 17 good years before you access the gadget.
Secondly, the random 24-phrase recovery seed is not generated from a single algorithm and is not displayed on the compute but on the OLED screen. Rather, Trezor uses deterministic signatures and other sources to generate this phrase. Well, you can say so what now? But this is very important. Your recovery phrase is your coin’s lifeline and if they are stolen, your coins are gone. By putting together a recovery seed from different sources, Trezor is resistant to generator attacks.
Additionally, you can add what is called a passphrase to the 24-phraserecovery seed as an extra security buffer. Make sure you don’t forget this passphrase though. If you do, you won’t recover your wallet even if you have the correct master seed.
Furthermore, all transactions are approved from the device using the two buttons. You can always confirm whom you are sending your coins to by scrolling up and down using the two buttons on the device. To approve transactions, you must press the buttons physically meaning no hacker-assuming he gets to your device-can send coins without you knowing.
Trezor is Hierarchical Deterministic-HD meaning it doesn’t work in isolation as it supports Bitcoin’s standards as BIP 140 and 144. It you lose your device, don’t fret or sweat, buy another hardware wallet and recovery your coins instantly.
Privacy wise, you should distinguish two things here. When setting up you note that you are redirected to MyTrezor where the Chrome extension is downloaded. Well, MyTrezor is Satoshi labs hot wallet and while installation of the chrome wallet is automatic, you can actually choose to set up the whole thing offline using the Chrome extension or a couple of Python tools if privacy is your main concern.
Moreover, the device has no serial number so your activities are not tracked. In my opinion, this is a form of payment because Trezor’s code is after all open source and benefits from the community’s input.
Trezor Supports These Cryptocurrencies
When choosing a wallet, I always see what they have for me when it comes to security and cryptocurrency support. We have already seen that Trezor ranks high in security.
Now, when it comes to the number of cryptocurrencies supported, the numbers is impressive. Trezor was the first Bitcoin wallet when it launched in 2014, since then they have expanded and support these other coins:
Pros and Cons
Satoshi Labs did a wonderful job in making this device secure. The number of security features incorporated makes it hacker proof. It is also reliable, light weight and cheap. Set up is also easy and while you need internet connection to download the chrome extension, you can disconnect it after installation and complete the set up off grid. The only downside is that you need a computer to transact because the device lacks a battery. The screen is also small and made from plastic and doesn’t justify the $100 needed to buy. Satoshi Labs need to add more big cap alt coins like IOTA, NEM and others and this time integrate smart phone support.
The industry is still nascent and growing. Solutions will be created to make the device perfect but other than that, Trezor is truly a vault and works as pitched. It is secure and cheap which is appealing for starters and even experienced users. I highly recommend this hardware wallet.