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S8 E8: Slush on Trezor and Tropic Square

When he doesn’t break Satoshi’s expectations about how mining will work and doesn’t work on perfecting the world’s first Bitcoin hardware wallet, Slush sets his mind on similarly-ambitious goals. This time around, he wants to build truly open-source and auditable security chips with his new venture Tropic Square.

If you’re curious about the future of Bitcoin security and hardware wallets, look no further than this interview. Not only that Slush explains some of the principles on which everything created by Satoshi Labs operates, but he also hints to the features and release date of a new Trezor hardware wallet.

Furthermore, we continue last year’s conversation about how Trezor is different from the competition by including some newly-launched devices like the Foundation Devices Passport, the Cobo Vault, and the Blockstream Jade.

And when you think that the comparison has gone too in-depth, we still do deep dives into the importance of the passphrase, the issues of PSBT, and the difference between SD card and USB connection for better security.

Slush also answers the fundamental question “Why should we still buy hardware wallets?” by highlighting some advantages that basic application-specific devices have over general-purpose electronics whose attack surface is larger.

And if you’re feeling confused about the differences between a multisig setup and a Shamir Secret Sharing backup, then feel prepared to hear about all the trade-offs involved. After all, we shouldn’t expect any less from one of the architects of SLIP 0039, who also happens to be an early advocate of multisigs.

Listen to Slush on Apple Podcasts and Spotify!

If you don’t have an account on any of these services, then feel free to use my free RSS feed. Not only that you get better privacy (no signup or registration is required), but you can also access it using the Tor browser and download the episode to your computer for offline listening. It’s definitely the cypherpunk way of enjoying this interview!

But if you do use Spotify or Apple Podcasts, then please leave a review. It only takes a few seconds of your time, but will help the show get discovered more easily by those who seek to find useful information about Trezor hardware wallets and Bitcoin security.

This Episode is Sponsored by Vaultoro and Wasabi Wallet!

Want to learn more about the values of the two companies? I have recorded episodes with both Joshua Scigala (Vaultoro CEO) and Nopara73 (Wasabi Wallet creator).

If you would like to support the show and you’re into trading hard money like bitcoin, gold, and silver, then sign up to Vaultoro using my referral link. Vaultoro will help you forget about shitcoins and focus on sound money. They also allow you topick up your gold bars or have them shipped to your address, so you don’t have to trust any custodian with your money. Keep in mind that you are responsible for your own decisions and I am not providing you financial advice.

And if you would like to increase your network and transaction privacy, you should download Wasabi Wallet on your computer. It routes your connection through the Tor network to hide your IP, it downloads block filters so you validate your own transactions locally without appealing to a trusted third party, and it also connects to your own full node to boost your financial sovereignty. Wasabi is best known for its link-breaking CoinJoins, which are giving a hard time even to the EuroPol. Use the wallet to increase your financial sovereignty, but don’t do any illegal stuff – use your financial sovereignty with responsibility (also read the Wasabi terms of service).

Time Stamps for my Interview with Slush:

01:42 – Intro

03:24 – How did Slush come up with the idea of Tropic Square?

09:31 – What were Tropic Square’s biggest challenges?

12:54 – What’s the stage of development for the Tropic Square chips?

14:50 – Addressing chip audibility criticism from Lawrence Nahum and Zach Herbert: how can users verify the open sourceness of the chips?

18:10 – Coldcard changing licenses because of Foundation Devices: how does the situation compare to what Trezor did when KeepKey came around?

21:00 – Should users add complexity to their backup with a passphrase?

32:49 – Can the issue of physical security get solved?

34:00 – What does Slush think about the Cobo Vault?

39:55 – Can the Trezor do PSBT?

40:27 – USB vs PSBT via SD card

42:10 – What does Slush think about the Foundation Devices Passport?

43:58 – What does Slush think about the Blockstream Jade?

48:35 – Which features will the next Trezor hardware have?

49:58 – The Trezor Model T screen

52:30 – Trezor’s user interface improvements with Trezor Suite

57:51 – Trezor Suite wallet verification to prevent phishing attacks

1:00:55 – New features in Trezor Suite

1:03:20 – Are there any plans to add SLIP 0039 (Shamir Secret Sharing) to the Trezor One?

1:04:45 – The issue with typing your passphrase on your computer keyboard when using the Trezor One

1:07:41 – Connecting your Trezor to a full node 

1:09:43 – Multisig vs Shamir Secret Sharing 

1:19:18 – How does Trezor secure its marketing database and how can people order hardware wallets in a safer way?

1:23:17 – Why should people still buy hardware wallets instead of doing setups on wiped laptops?

1:21:19 – Removing fake applications and other phishing attempts 

1:30:34 – What is next for Trezor and Satoshi Labs?

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