Q&A with Marek Palatinus: We are reinventing digital identity management
1. Who are the people behind Trezor?
The Trezor journey was started by me and Pavol Rusnak. I met Pavol “Stick” Rusnak at BRMLAB and we decided to create the solution for a secure and intuitive cryptocurrency storage. I already had been mining bitcoins with Slush Pool which lost thousands of bitcoins during the Linode hack. We got an idea to isolate private keys to a separate environment and agreed to create a few prototypes. In 2012, we had the first prototype ready. In 2013, fundraising campaign started as well as the company. A year later, the first Trezor One devices were shipped. In 2016, the first prototype of the next-generation model was unveiled, with the production Model Ts shipping in 2018. Last year SatoshiLabs celebrated 5 years and we are looking forward to future projects in digital security.
2. Why do you find it so important to use a hardware wallet?
Hardware wallets have proven over and over again to be the safest way to protect your cryptocurrency assets. Trezor is a security device and system that teaches you to trust yourself and the screen of the device. Because crypto assets are just one part of your whole digital identity, we at SatoshiLabs took a step forward and used this trusted system to secure also other parts of your digital identity, from passwords with Trezor Password Manager, to secure logins using 2FA (two-factor authentication).
3. What are the most common vulnerabilities of hardware wallets?
Trezor is an ultra secure device which serves as a cold wallet as it remains offline and cannot be hacked or infected via the internet. All the private keys are stored in the device itself and are never exposed online. However, nothing can be 100% secured. Trezor devices are invulnerable to remote attacks, thus making the user the least secure part in the hardware wallet lifecycle. Store your seed phrase safely and away from your Trezor device, and never share this information with anyone. There is always a very small but still present possibility of the device being hacked, especially when you have physical access to the device, but our continuous development, open-source philosophy, and responsible disclosure program are proven methods to keep the security of the device and its platform several steps ahead of the hackers.
4. What are the advantages of Trezor when compared to competition?
Trezor is a fully open-source, open hardware and community-audited device. We believe that the highest security standards combined with the friendly user interface are the winning combination and we follow this path. The plastic from which Trezors are made is super resistant and battle-tested, the device can even survive the washing machine or being overrun by a car, as our customers have informed us on several occasions (but we don’t recommend you trying it:)). Apart from being a secure device to store your cryptocurrencies (1000 coins and counting!), Trezor serves also as a digital identity manager with Trezor Password Manager and the functionalities of a 2FA token.
If you are interested in our philosophy, you can read more about the topic of security and open source in our Security Manifesto below:
SatoshiLabs Security Manifesto
Transparent and swift reaction: The philosophy of SatoshiLabs.
5. Why should anyone choose Trezor over any other HW?
I have mentioned some of the reasons already in the question above. Both models, minimalist Trezor One and our latest Model T, are based on our security strategy, open software, and continuous development by the best developers in the industry. When I talk about “continuous development” I mean both devices, because we are working on the backporting of Trezor Model T core to One so owners of both models can profit from the new functions and abilities. Both models offer unmatched security for more than 1000 cryptocurrencies, password management, second factor authentication, all while maintaining an absolute ease-of-use, whether you are a security expert or a brand new user.
Trezor One ignited the whole hardware wallet industry, established all the standards used by other makers of hardware wallets and proved over seven years that it is the golden standard for hardware wallets. Trezor Model T with a touchscreen, USB-C cable and microSD card is future proof and offers unmatched security and user comfort.
6. How is Trezor financed? Are you raising funds or seeking investments?
Trezor is a company built by us, founders, and we do not intend to collect any
investments from third-party funds or investors. We remain investment-free to avoid being bound to any VC interests such as revenue targets or dividend payouts. This model of funding allows us to focus entirely on the product and the community surrounding it.
There are two implications here: first of all, we do not chase arbitrary economic targets. We do not develop our device to sell well, but to serve well. The second implication is more important though: As you are virtually our investors, the main focus is to make sure that our community and users are satisfied with the product and remain stable Trezor supporters.
7. Which partners of Trezor do you find the most interesting?
We are proud to be developing complex security solutions with established partners. There are several interesting and important partnership in the discussion, but I am unable to share the details at this time as the negotiations are still ongoing. It is proven that Trezor devices are extremely versatile and can be used for several other purposes such as security token, verification tool, password and login manager, and much more, not just the cryptocurrency wallet. Thanks to the versatile use of Trezor and Trezor Connect, and easily implemented API, partners from different industries
are frequently contacting us.
8. How Trezor plans to move forward and remain competitive against its
competition like Ledger, and electronic giants like Samsung and Huawei who consider entering the market of hardware wallets?
Trezor is a project developed with the fundamentals of Bitcoin in mind. At
SatoshiLabs, we always create the best product possible and the final decision
always comes from our developers and founders. Trezor was and always will be built by the community and for the community. Our products are designed to meet the highest security, quality, and user experience standards, and we will never lower our standards just to benefit the marketing or financial department like you can see in most mainstream companies.
9. Your competitors Ledger and Cool Wallet just announced Bluetooth support for some of their models. Will Trezor go the same way or do you plan to avoid using Bluetooth due to its vulnerabilities?
We are always focused on making our devices as user-friendly and compatible as possible, while keeping the highest security standards. At Trezor, we are alway looking for new technologies that could benefit our devices and make them more attractive to the end user. However, at this time we are unable to share any more details in regards to Bluetooth or any of the upcoming features as our hardware development process is highly classified.
10. What will the future of crypto safety look like?
This question is very hard to answer. New security issues arise every single day and our teams are working extremely hard to be flexible and react as quickly as possible to the new threats. With Internet-of-Things becoming more and more popular we will be facing issues that we’ve never heard about before. We don’t know what the future will look like. We promise that SatoshiLabs will remain the leader in the security of cryptocurrencies and digital identity technologies and Trezor the best digital identity security platform.
What a privilege to have Marek (Slush) in one of my Q&A’s. Marek has developer-rockstar-status under any standard, he invented the cryptocurrency hardware wallets, the cornerstone of crypto infosec safety! If it weren’t for him most of us would have not been able to invest SAFELY in Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, much less have peace of mind.
Can’t wait to see what Slush and SatoshiLabs will bring to the evolution of HWs.
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P.S.: if you are new to crypto, or are planning to enter in crypto, PLEASE make sure before you buy any crypto, buy a hardware wallet, get acquainted with it, play with it, get comfortable with it, and keep most of your crypto in it. Safety first, if your crypto is compromised, there is no one that can bring it back.