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HODL Wallet : Bitcoin Wallet

latest release: 3.3.5 ( 18th May 2020 ) last analysed  17th August 2021 Not updated in a while 
3.6 ★★★★★
119 ratings
10 thousand
24th September 2018

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Do your own research!

Try out searching for "lost bitcoins", "stole my money" or "scammers" together with the wallet's name, even if you think the wallet is generally trustworthy. For all the bigger wallets you will find accusations. Make sure you understand why they were made and if you are comfortable with the provider's reaction.

If you find something we should include, you can create an issue or edit this analysis yourself and create a merge request for your changes.

The Analysis 

Update: The developer closed the issue where we asked for help to verify the app build. There appears to be no interest in scrutiny.

The description sounds a bit scary:

Your Bitcoin are stored on your device and backed up to a Backup Recovery Key when you create a wallet. This means HODL Wallet can never stop you from accessing or sending your funds.

So they can’t stop me from sending my funds but can I stop them from sending my funds if they have a backup? Or what is this “Backup Recovery Key” again? I guess that’s just me being paranoid but this could be worded more clearly.

HODL Wallet is free, open source, and doesn’t require you to create an account.

That at least sounds great! :)

Choose to connect to your own node in advance settings

That’s great, especially if it doesn’t talk to a company server after that.

The website is more reassuring:

HODL Wallet does not collect any information at any point in time and all your Bitcoin exist exclusively on your device.

Also do we learn about it supporting the industry standard BIP39, menmonic backups.

Apparently hodl-wallet-android is their repository. It is MIT licensed, which is one of the most permissive licenses.

There, the build instructions are very minimal and involve Android Studio. Let’s see how it goes:

Go to github.co/hodlwallet/breadwallet-android and clone or download the project

Breadwallet? Ok, good to know where the code comes from but this alone lets us doubt a bit how dedicated the team is working on the project. Also: more guessing on our part:

$ git clone git@github.com:hodlwallet/hodl-wallet-android.git
Cloning into 'hodl-wallet-android'...
$ cd hodl-wallet-android/
$ git tag
$ git branch
* develop

Not good. In the history we find no mention of 3.3.2 which would be the version name mentioned on Google.

Looking at the recent history though:

$ tig

2019-04-22 15:49 -0400 Igor Guerrero    o [HEAD] Bump version to `3.3.3
2019-04-22 15:47 -0400 Igor Guerrero    M─┐ Merge pull request #42 from
2019-04-19 16:33 -0400 Igor Guerrero    │ o Bump version
2019-04-19 16:33 -0400 Igor Guerrero     o Add hodlTestnet to the igno
2019-04-18 13:17 -0400 Igor Guerrero     o Add error message when we d
2019-04-17 17:13 -0400 Igor Guerrero     o Fix issue with Java not kno
2019-04-17 13:08 -0400 Igor Guerrero     o Fix problem with regular pa
2019-04-02 11:28 -0400 Igor Guerrero    o Add hodlTestnet to the igno
2019-04-02 11:27 -0400 Igor Guerrero    o Bump version
2019-03-15 11:18 -0400 Igor Guerrero    M─┤ Merge pull request #41 from
[main] 475dc72f34fe410f567482a13fc0bd9784d2f2e8 - commit 3 of 2119   0%
+        versionCode 10
+        versionName "3.3.2"
         multiDexEnabled true

we find 2 commits labled “Bump version” that both set the version name to “3.3.2”.

By the way, the wallet did not see an update since a long time. Those changes are from April 2019.

Anyway, the two “3.3.2” branches get merged on April 22nd, the day of the Google Play release. We’ll try that one: 394f23041b. We will raise the bar in the future and refuse to search for commits like that though. Have a tag or we can’t verify the build.

Anyway … we’ll try the same we tried with BRD:

$ git checkout 394f23041b
$ git submodule update --init --recursive
$ docker run -v $PWD:/mnt -it beevelop/cordova bash
root@7d56c86f8fae:/# cd /mnt/
root@7d56c86f8fae:/mnt# yes | $ANDROID_HOME/tools/bin/sdkmanager "platforms;android-28"
root@7d56c86f8fae:/mnt# /opt/android/tools/bin/sdkmanager ndk-bundle
root@7d56c86f8fae:/mnt# ./gradlew :app:assemble

So lets compare it with the version from the Play Store:

$ apktool d -o fromBuild app/build/outputs/apk/hodl/release/app-hodl-release-unsigned.apk
$ apktool d -o fromPlay ./appFromPlay.apk
$ diff --brief --recursive fromBuild fromPlay
Files fromBuild/AndroidManifest.xml and fromPlay/AndroidManifest.xml differ
Files fromBuild/apktool.yml and fromPlay/apktool.yml differ
Files fromBuild/lib/arm64-v8a/libcore-lib.so and fromPlay/lib/arm64-v8a/libcore-lib.so differ
Files fromBuild/lib/armeabi-v7a/libcore-lib.so and fromPlay/lib/armeabi-v7a/libcore-lib.so differ
Files fromBuild/lib/x86/libcore-lib.so and fromPlay/lib/x86/libcore-lib.so differ
Files fromBuild/lib/x86_64/libcore-lib.so and fromPlay/lib/x86_64/libcore-lib.so differ
Files fromBuild/original/AndroidManifest.xml and fromPlay/original/AndroidManifest.xml differ
Only in fromPlay/original/META-INF: CERT.RSA
Only in fromPlay/original/META-INF: CERT.SF
Files fromBuild/original/META-INF/MANIFEST.MF and fromPlay/original/META-INF/MANIFEST.MF differ
Files fromBuild/smali/co/hodlwallet/BuildConfig.smali and fromPlay/smali/co/hodlwallet/BuildConfig.smali differ
Files fromBuild/smali/co/hodlwallet/presenter/activities/camera/CameraActivity.smali and fromPlay/smali/co/hodlwallet/presenter/activities/camera/CameraActivity.smali differ
Files fromBuild/smali/co/hodlwallet/presenter/activities/settings/NodesActivity$1.smali and fromPlay/smali/co/hodlwallet/presenter/activities/settings/NodesActivity$1.smali differ
Files fromBuild/smali/co/hodlwallet/tools/animation/BRAnimator.smali and fromPlay/smali/co/hodlwallet/tools/animation/BRAnimator.smali differ
Files fromBuild/smali/co/hodlwallet/tools/manager/BRApiManager.smali and fromPlay/smali/co/hodlwallet/tools/manager/BRApiManager.smali differ
Files fromBuild/smali/co/hodlwallet/tools/manager/BREventManager.smali and fromPlay/smali/co/hodlwallet/tools/manager/BREventManager.smali differ
Files fromBuild/smali/co/hodlwallet/tools/manager/SyncManager$SyncProgressTask.smali and fromPlay/smali/co/hodlwallet/tools/manager/SyncManager$SyncProgressTask.smali differ
Files fromBuild/smali/co/hodlwallet/tools/qrcode/QRCodeReaderView$DecodeFrameTask.smali and fromPlay/smali/co/hodlwallet/tools/qrcode/QRCodeReaderView$DecodeFrameTask.smali differ
Files fromBuild/smali/co/hodlwallet/tools/qrcode/QRUtils.smali and fromPlay/smali/co/hodlwallet/tools/qrcode/QRUtils.smali differ
Files fromBuild/smali/co/hodlwallet/tools/security/BRKeyStore.smali and fromPlay/smali/co/hodlwallet/tools/security/BRKeyStore.smali differ
Files fromBuild/smali/co/hodlwallet/tools/security/BRSender$1.smali and fromPlay/smali/co/hodlwallet/tools/security/BRSender$1.smali differ
Files fromBuild/smali/co/hodlwallet/tools/security/PostAuth$7.smali and fromPlay/smali/co/hodlwallet/tools/security/PostAuth$7.smali differ
Files fromBuild/smali/co/hodlwallet/tools/security/PostAuth.smali and fromPlay/smali/co/hodlwallet/tools/security/PostAuth.smali differ
Files fromBuild/smali/co/hodlwallet/tools/security/RootHelper.smali and fromPlay/smali/co/hodlwallet/tools/security/RootHelper.smali differ
Files fromBuild/smali/co/hodlwallet/tools/sqlite/CurrencyDataSource.smali and fromPlay/smali/co/hodlwallet/tools/sqlite/CurrencyDataSource.smali differ
Files fromBuild/smali/co/hodlwallet/tools/sqlite/MerkleBlockDataSource.smali and fromPlay/smali/co/hodlwallet/tools/sqlite/MerkleBlockDataSource.smali differ
Files fromBuild/smali/co/hodlwallet/tools/sqlite/PeerDataSource.smali and fromPlay/smali/co/hodlwallet/tools/sqlite/PeerDataSource.smali differ
Files fromBuild/smali/co/hodlwallet/tools/sqlite/TransactionDataSource.smali and fromPlay/smali/co/hodlwallet/tools/sqlite/TransactionDataSource.smali differ
Files fromBuild/smali/co/hodlwallet/tools/threads/PaymentProtocolPostPaymentTask.smali and fromPlay/smali/co/hodlwallet/tools/threads/PaymentProtocolPostPaymentTask.smali differ
Files fromBuild/smali/co/hodlwallet/tools/threads/PaymentProtocolTask.smali and fromPlay/smali/co/hodlwallet/tools/threads/PaymentProtocolTask.smali differ
Files fromBuild/smali/co/hodlwallet/tools/util/Bip39Reader.smali and fromPlay/smali/co/hodlwallet/tools/util/Bip39Reader.smali differ
Files fromBuild/smali/co/hodlwallet/tools/util/BRCompressor.smali and fromPlay/smali/co/hodlwallet/tools/util/BRCompressor.smali differ
Files fromBuild/smali/co/hodlwallet/tools/util/BytesUtil.smali and fromPlay/smali/co/hodlwallet/tools/util/BytesUtil.smali differ
Files fromBuild/smali/co/hodlwallet/wallet/BRWalletManager.smali and fromPlay/smali/co/hodlwallet/wallet/BRWalletManager.smali differ
Files fromBuild/smali/co/platform/APIClient.smali and fromPlay/smali/co/platform/APIClient.smali differ
Files fromBuild/smali/co/platform/kvstore/RemoteKVStore.smali and fromPlay/smali/co/platform/kvstore/RemoteKVStore.smali differ
Files fromBuild/smali/co/platform/kvstore/ReplicatedKVStore.smali and fromPlay/smali/co/platform/kvstore/ReplicatedKVStore.smali differ
Files fromBuild/smali/co/platform/middlewares/APIProxy.smali and fromPlay/smali/co/platform/middlewares/APIProxy.smali differ
Files fromBuild/smali/co/platform/middlewares/HTTPFileMiddleware.smali and fromPlay/smali/co/platform/middlewares/HTTPFileMiddleware.smali differ
Files fromBuild/smali/co/platform/middlewares/plugins/CameraPlugin$2.smali and fromPlay/smali/co/platform/middlewares/plugins/CameraPlugin$2.smali differ
Files fromBuild/smali/co/platform/middlewares/plugins/CameraPlugin.smali and fromPlay/smali/co/platform/middlewares/plugins/CameraPlugin.smali differ
Files fromBuild/smali/co/platform/middlewares/plugins/WalletPlugin$1.smali and fromPlay/smali/co/platform/middlewares/plugins/WalletPlugin$1.smali differ
Files fromBuild/smali/co/platform/tools/BRBitId$2.smali and fromPlay/smali/co/platform/tools/BRBitId$2.smali differ
Files fromBuild/smali/co/platform/tools/BRBitId.smali and fromPlay/smali/co/platform/tools/BRBitId.smali differ

Using diffoscope which also takes a deeper look at binaries we find:

├── AndroidManifest.xml (decoded)
│ ├── AndroidManifest.xml
│ │ @@ -1,9 +1,9 @@
│ │  <?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?>
│ │ -<manifest android:versionCode="10" android:versionName="3.3.2" package="co.hodlwallet" platformBuildVersionCode="10" platformBuildVersionName="3.3.2" xmlns:android="http://schemas.android.com/apk/res/android">
│ │ +<manifest android:versionCode="11" android:versionName="3.3.2" package="co.hodlwallet" platformBuildVersionCode="11" platformBuildVersionName="3.3.2" xmlns:android="http://schemas.android.com/apk/res/android">

that the version differs, which tells us with certainty that the version in Google Play is not in GitHub:

We tried the last revision before the versionName was set to 3.3.3 which uses the versionCode 10. Google rejects updates with equal versionCodes, so this is kind of understandable and happened to all of us release managers but not committing a new revision and not tagging stuff is at least sloppy and as we hope will soon be unacceptable.

Which is a grave issue with verification though, are the differences in lib/x86/libcore-lib.so. Those are 50MB in the diffoscope decompiled form and beyond human review.

That is not good enough.

Our verdict for now: not verifiable.


Verdict Explained

This product did not get updated in over a year.

As part of our Methodology, we ask:

Was the product updated during the last year? If not, we tag it Stale! 

Bitcoin wallets are complex products and Bitcoin is a new, advancing technolgy. Projects that don’t get updated in a year are probably not well maintained.

This verdict may not get applied if the provider is active and expresses good reasons for not updating the product.

The product cannot be independently verified. If the provider puts your funds at risk on purpose or by accident, you will probably not know about the issue before people start losing money. If the provider is more criminally inclined he might have collected all the backups of all the wallets, ready to be emptied at the press of a button. The product might have a formidable track record but out of distress or change in management turns out to be evil from some point on, with nobody outside ever knowing before it is too late.