I recently bought a pair of TREZOR Model T’s not because I needed them, but as a new toy. I have some crypto currency investments and secure them via two sets of two Ledger Wallets ( you can never have too much in the way of resilience).
I didn’t expect to use the TREZOR Model T as my primary crypto wallet, nor did I expect to like the TREZOR as much as I do. The most surprising thing about them isn’t how well they handle their primary task of securing crypto — but the extra features that they provide, and how the new hardware excels at providing them.
The TREZOR Model T offers a significantly better user experience over it’s predecessor (below right) and my existing devices the Ledger Wallet (below left). It has a large colour screen which offers full touch capabilities.
Interaction with previous generation devices was generally accomplished using hardware buttons, where one signals YES, the other NO. Day to day usage generally consists of approving transactions, entering PIN codes and typing larger more complex pass-phrases using a combination of those two buttons — anyone who remembers (not)SmartPhones will remember the joy of text-entry before touch screens.
With the Model T you can touch the screen, physically interacting with the device to enter pins or type pass-phrases and if nothing else this offers a compelling reason to upgrade if you value your time and/or sanity.
TREZOR make bold claims about the hardware supporting more in the way of future features — but on day one, the transition to a touch device is a game-changer.
Working as intended — Model T is a champ for crypto
I won’t labour this point much, as the primary function of the TREZOR Model T, it makes sense that using it to manage crypto is a joy. It’s quick to power up and it offers a touch-enabled quick and clean way to enter a PIN code which gets the device unlocked and lets you manage your portfolios.
If you are reading this and you DONT have any form of hardware wallet, stop reading right now, go to https://shop.trezor.io/ and fix that before you continue. If there is one piece of advice I can give anyone new to the crypto space — a hardware wallet is an essential piece of equipment.
Crypto currency uses two parts of the same key, a public part which functions as your account number and a private key which needs to be stored securely. If you don’t have a hardware wallet, you are storing both these keys in software on your desktop, laptop or mobile. It takes one piece of well-placed malware and you can literally lose the house.
A hardware wallet fixes this, the private keys are stored in the device and can never be exposed. The TREZOR communicates with the machine it’s connected to when the private key is needed. But crucially it never leaves the device — the device does the work and gives the result back.
A hardware wallet isn’t optional in my opinion; while there is choice in the make and model of the hardware — the Model T leads the pack. It’s like comparing a 2018 model car, to one from 10 years ago; the only reason for not going for the newer model is if money is an issue. At 149EUR the Model T is a compelling purchase when you consider the prices of the competition.
TL;dr make sure you have a hardware wallet — and I’d suggest it should be a TREZOR Model T
You REALLY need a TREZOR
But the functionality of a TREZOR Model T goes beyond it’s usage for crypto currency. I made a bold claim with the headline — why you NEED a TREZOR Model T.
For me, the killer features are actually hidden at the bottom of the Model T’s product page.
Online security is a big deal — if you aren't using a password manager for your online accounts, you’re exposed to pretty substantial risk. Most password managers such as the one I’ve used up until ‘potentially’ now — 1Password, secure themselves via a master password. You login to the password manager with this master password, and you can access all your other super-secure account passwords. But what if the master password becomes known to others? you have problems.
The TREZOR offers password-manager functionality where the hardware authenticates you. It means you don’t need a master password, you login with the device.
The hardware also supports U2F functionality which means it can be used to secure 3rd party websites such as Dropbox or Github and many more. Traditionally you would use a MFA device or application on your phone to provide a one-time unique code, but using U2F offers an alternative thats secured by a much more rigorously tested device. You can even use a U2F device to login to some devices — hello Microsoft windows :)
And then, perhaps my personal favourite SSH. If you work with Linux servers in your job, or personal life — you will either login with usernames & passwords or you will use private and public keys. If its the former, change now — avoid usernames and passwords if you can. If its the latter, you have the same problem as with non hardware crypto wallets — you are at risk if your private SSH key is ever exposed.
The TREZOR model T is capable of managing your private SSH keys, which are generated and stored securely on the device. Wherever your TREZOR is, your keys are..and they are always handled on the device so you are protected from malware infecting the machine you use to connect to these servers.
What really impressed me though, was when I found out the TREZOR Model T had a MicroSD card slot. And this will provide encrypted storage handled by the device itself (coming soon!)
Encrypted Storage is a game-changer for me. The functionality isn’t live yet, but TREZOR suggests it’s coming soon. The ability to store data and have it secured by the same encryption technology the hardware uses is amazing — it’s another problem/need I have taken care of by a single device.
One device — many uses
I love my new TREZOR Model T — mainly because it’s the best at what it does. It excels at it’s primary task of securing my crypto currency. But, by adding additional functionality it becomes an essential piece of my personal data and online security arsenal. I’m in the process of moving all my crypto assets over to my TREZOR as I write this — the SSH logins for all my managed servers will take longer, but its a done deal.
I’ll be here doing my happy-dance until the encrypted storage goes live, at which point you may find my Nano S’s in the bin (n.b they will be erased beforehand !)
Disclaimer: I paid for my Model T and I have no relationship with TREZOR, who are not paying me for this article.