Ledger Nano S🔍 Last analysed 1st August 2021 . No source for current release found
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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.
The Analysis ¶
Ledger has this to say about their technology:
At Ledger we are developing hardware wallet technology that provides the highest level of security for crypto assets. Our products combine a Secure Element and a proprietary OS designed specifically to protect your assets.
“proprietary OS” does not sound good. As we learned when reviewing, “Secure” Elements and open source firmware do not go well together and that is why Ledger’s firmware (or OS) is proprietary and to our knowledge closed source.
Ledger defends their stance on using this approach here.
While arguably there is scenarios under which a “Secure” Element with a closed source firmware could save a user from theft, it opens the door for a provider to steal all the funds of all the users at once, which is our mission to call out. This product is not verifiable.
Without public source of the reviewed release available, this product cannot be verified!
As part of our Methodology, we ask:Is the source code publicly available? If not, we tag it No Source!
A wallet that claims to not give the provider the means to steal the users’ funds might actually be lying. In the spirit of “Don’t trust - verify!” you don’t want to take the provider at his word, but trust that people hunting for fame and bug bounties could actually find flaws and back-doors in the wallet so the provider doesn’t dare to put these in.
Back-doors and flaws are frequently found in closed source products but some remain hidden for years. And even in open source security software there might be catastrophic flaws undiscovered for years.
An evil wallet provider would certainly prefer not to publish the code, as hiding it makes audits orders of magnitude harder.
For your security, you thus want the code to be available for review.
If the wallet provider doesn’t share up to date code, our analysis stops there as the wallet could steal your funds at any time, and there is no protection except the provider’s word.
“Up to date” strictly means that any instance of the product being updated without the source code being updated counts as closed source. This puts the burden on the provider to always first release the source code before releasing the product’s update. This paragraph is a clarification to our rules following a little poll.
We are not concerned about the license as long as it allows us to perform our analysis. For a security audit, it is not necessary that the provider allows others to use their code for a competing wallet. You should still prefer actual open source licenses as a competing wallet won’t use the code without giving it careful scrutiny.
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