Wallet Logo

Zero Trace

🔍 Last analysed 8th March 2022 . No source for current release found
10th July 2020

Jump to verdict 

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 

Product Description

Zero Trace is an all-in-one flash drive with everything you need to stay anonymous. Being completely portable, you can access the Tor network on any computer from the USB port, anonymously from the Zero Trace Pen. Clearnet, Dark Web, Darknet, Deep Web Compatible

  • 40+ Pre-installed Privacy Apps
  • Built-In MAC Address Spoofer
  • Double Kill Switch (WiFi & RAM)
  • Cold Storage Cryptocurrency Wallet
  • ZT PRO Support

A Live-USB with a customized Tails Linux OS with Apps

A cursory Google search with the terms “Zerotrace” + “Tails” will bring the user to a few reddit threads on r/Linux and one blog post on publish0x.com. The allegations are: the pen is merely a USB drive with a bootable Tails Linux OS along with an Electrum app + 39 other open source apps. One of the comments says that the USB drive’s capacity is 16 GB which should cost less than $10 today.

So we then checked on Youtube.com and searched for unboxing reviews. Most of the reviews were positive with words like “definitely worth it”. Considering that it’s a 16 GB USB drive with a pre-installed version of a free Linux distribution, we might have to dig a little deeper about their unique value proposition. Sure enough, in one of the videos, the reviewer plugs the USB portion of the pen, reboots the PC, and the Tails OS splash screen appears. Electrum is one of the pre-installed apps as today it is with vanilla TAILS.

We also searched for USB drives that are disguised as ballpoint pens and they’re priced somewhere between $10-$20. Tails OS, a Linux distribution, is free. Electrum is free software as well and comes preinstalled in Tails, anyway.

Analysis

  • The “company”’s business address listed on the website is a US Postal Service office in Miami, Florida.
  • The team is all anonymous.
  • The “partners” (Tor Network, Debian and Electrum) do not link back to this product.
  • There is no way of verifying if the pen contains exactly what is advertised.

To judge it as a hardware wallet, we have to treat it as a USB drive with pre-installed, closed source software. This “wallet” is not verifiable.

(dg, lw)

Verdict Explained

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.

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.