coldcard wallet

The ColdCard Bitcoin wallet: maximum security?

Our full review of ColdCard

In the era of increasing digitalization of financial transactions, the security of our digital assets has become a major concern. It is accepted that physical wallets (also known as “cold wallets”) are the most secure. They have this reputation because they are not constantly connected to the Internet and thereby reduce the risks of online attacks.

However, there are several physical wallets with different particularities and characteristics. In this article, we present the characteristics of the Coldcard wallet, a open source wallet robust and secure to store your bitcoins.

With its sleek design and cutting-edge technology, the Coldcard wallet provides rock-solid protection for your private keys, allowing you to maintain full control of your funds.

But what are its particularities and limitations? This is what we will see in this article.

Coldcard Wallet Overview

Indeed, Coldcard is a type of hardware wallet (hardware wallet) used to store cryptocurrencies securely. It is renowned for its safety and reliability. The Coldcard Wallet was developed by Coinkite, a Canada-based company that specializes in security solutions for cryptocurrencies.

Source: Coldcard website

cold card is a popular Bitcoin (BTC) hardware wallet that has been available since 2018. The latest revision, MK4, was released in October 2019. 

ColdCard is very popular among bitcoin holders because the wallet is fully in open source code (open source). This means that anyone can access, verify and audit the software code and ensure the overall security of the wallet.

Which bitcoin wallet is ColdCard compatible with?

When it launched, the crypto world discovered something new compared to old crypto wallets. The coldcard has a clear, easy-to-read screen (128 x 64 px bright OLED), as well as a numeric keypad. This was a necessary design feature that allows you to visually verify your assets independently. 

Unlike hardware wallets such as Ledger Nano S ou Trezor One which support more than 1000 cryptocurrencies and tokens, Coldcard MK4 only stores bitcoin(BTC). Coldcard is compatible with Bitcoin Core and a few other Bitcoin (BTC) wallets. This is in particular:  

It is important to note that Coldcard works perfectly with Sparrow wallet or with the Casa portfolio and BTCPayServer. It is then a practical solution for merchants who want to accept bitcoin payments.

In summary, the Coldcard Wallet is designed for use with Bitcoin (BTC) and other Bitcoin-based cryptocurrencies. It offers top-notch security with features like offline private key generation. Secure key storage and transaction verification before their validation.

Very advanced security features 

The Coldcard wallet is a standalone device with a screen and physical buttons. Coldcard effectively ensures the security of your crypto assets. It is not connected to the Internet and requires a physical connection via a USB-C cable to transact.

This therefore reduces the risk of private keys being hacked or compromised, as they are never exposed to potentially dangerous online connections.

Coldcard Wallet users can securely generate private keys and addresses directly on the device, without ever exposing this information to a computer or the internet. Transactions are signed on the device itself, ensuring that private keys remain protected.

However, zero risk does not exist in terms of hardware wallets. Please see the safety paragraph.

What are the strong points of ColdCard?

👍 Coldcard stores your keywords inside a dedicated secure element “ATECC608A”. To find out more, consult the manifesto on Coldcard PIN design and operation.

👍 The coldcard firmware is open-source, meaning it can be audited by anyone from anywhere in the world. 

👍 Coldcard supports Multisig wallets Bitcoin (BTC). As a reminder, this wallet allows up to 15 co-signers. It is often recommended for institutions and companies. 

👍 Using coldcard, two anti-phishing words are displayed every time you start the device and insert the first half of your PIN. This verifies that the Coldcard you are using is indeed yours.

Counter-attack measures against criminals

These are very rare features for cryptocurrency wallets. However, it was better to think about it in my opinion. We will have confined our cryptoassets in a wallet. But what happens if a criminal threatens you with a gun in hand and forces you to send them to him?

Luckily for us, the designers of the Coldcard MK4 thought of this. The wallet includes a feature that could protect you against these kinds of threats. Indeed, in case someone physically forces you to open your device, these functions could be used to redirect the attacker to another wallet.

This process delays it from accessing your main wallet and allows you to save your funds, in a subtle way.

To enable this feature, you must configure: 

👍 A duress PIN code : Set up an additional PIN that redirects you to an entirely separate wallet.

👍 A BIP39 Passphrases : Select a 25th word (i.e. passphrase) that encrypts your keywords and generates a separate wallet. It is also possible to use this function for several separate wallets. To find out more, visit BIP-39 password instructions

👍 Login countdown : It is possible to set a specific time limit which can be up to 28 days before the Coldcard can be used after entering your PIN. This increases the level of security.

👍 Brickme PIN : You must also configure an additional PIN code which allows you to trigger the destruction of the secure element. This renders the device unusable. You can also activate a specific delay. It also goes up to 28 days before it becomes obvious that you entered the Brickme PIN.

Please note, it is essential to fully understand the complicated detours of these functions before activating them on your Coldcard. Before closing this article, let's take a look at the negative side of this device.

What are the disadvantages of Coldcard?

It is important to note that while Coldcard offers many security benefits, it is essential to take other steps to protect your cryptocurrencies, such as regularly backing up your private keys and updating firmware regularly. of your device. Although it seems perfect in terms of security, it also has some potential drawbacks, including:

👍 Complexity of use : The Coldcard is considered one of the most secure hardware wallets. However, it can also be more complex to use compared to other wallets. It may require some familiarity with technical hardware concepts and an in-depth understanding of how the wallet works.

👍 Limited user interface : The Coldcard user interface is minimalist and uses a monochrome screen. This may make the user experience less user-friendly for some users. The lack of an advanced GUI can make some operations more complicated, especially for novice users.

👍 Relatively high cost : Compared to some other hardware wallets, the Coldcard can be considered relatively expensive ($147,94). Its price can be a deciding factor for users looking for an affordable cold storage solution.

👍 Limited features : Although Coldcard is primarily designed to store and manage bitcoins, it may have limited functionality for other cryptocurrencies. If you plan to store other digital assets in addition to Bitcoin, this is not the recommended hardware wallet.

👍 No wireless connectivity : Unlike some other hardware wallets, the Coldcard does not have built-in wireless connectivity (like Bluetooth or Wi-Fi). This means that to make transactions or check balances, you must physically connect the wallet to a compatible device via a USB cable.

It is essential to note that many of the disadvantages mentioned above can also be considered security advantages. The complexity of use and limited functionality help to strengthen the security of the wallet by reducing the risks of potential attacks. However, they can also constitute obstacles for some less experienced users or those with specific needs.

What about ColdCard's security features?

Understanding the Air-Gap

In terms of IT security, the “air gap” system also called “air wall” is a measure which consists of physically isolating a system to secure the entire network.

Thus, ColdCard can also be used without ever connecting it directly to your computer. You could do it all while staying offline. Indeed, the ColdCard has a microSD slot which allows you to transfer your data directly.

Even if this is interesting in terms of security, it must be admitted that it makes sending Bitcoin (BTC) much more difficult.

Finally, even if you use a micro-SD card, it is also possible that it is subject to viruses that you may have on your computer. Even if the risk is low, it is still probable. It is essential to have a secure computer as well.

The dual SE

Most hardware wallet on the market has a single microprocessor. The strength of ColdCard is to have two secure elements, coming from two different providers. Thus, the Coldcard (Mk4) uses the Microchip ATECC608A and the Maxim DS28C36B which will store the crucial element of your wallet, namely the seed phrase.

These two chips are very powerful in terms of security. Communication is then controlled by complex challenges and SHA-256 responses. This then enhances the security of the entire device.

Final opinion on the ColdCard Wallet

In conclusion, Coldcard is positioned as an essential security solution in the world of cryptocurrencies. It's important to weigh the pros and cons specific to your needs and skill level before choosing a hardware wallet like the Coldcard. 

In other words, Coldcard is a trusted hardware wallet designed for security and private key protection.

The ColdCard wallet is way above most competitors on the market. Some believe it is the most secure there is.

However, the major drawback of using the PSBT format can be complex for a beginner. It is also a wallet that is not suitable for those who want to make many transactions. It is indeed a wallet intended to protect your bitcoins with a long-term holding perspective.

Overall, the Coldcard is a solid choice for those who want extreme control over their Bitcoin and don't care about the small complexities of ensuring maximum security.

Note: This is not investment advice. Always do your own research. All investments involve risks.

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Guellord Mbusa

Cryptocurrencies and blockchain intrigue and fascinate. With all due respect to crypto-sceptics, they represent a monetary alternative of the future and an essential technology in this world that threatens multiple financial crises and another more violent one, climate change.

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