BitFreezer is a hardware wallet for cryptocurrencies. It is a cold wallet – that is, it does not have a consistent connection to the internet. This provides an air gap between potential malicious actors and your crypto funds. We have covered hardware wallets before on Blockonomi, for good reason, they are the safest way to store your cryptocurrencies securely and will help protect you from hackers and scammers which try to steal people’s hard-earned coins.
BitFreezer operates slightly differently to other hardware wallets in the fact that the USB stick contains it’s own secure operating system designed solely for interacting with your wallet addresses – you insert the stick and boot directly off of it, use your wallets as required and then remove it and go back to your normal operating system.
How Much Does It Cost?
BitFreezer currently costs $49 plus shipping. BitFreezer accepts both credit cards and PayPal, but not cryptocurrency. The cost includes the wallet, customer support, an encryption guide, and basic instructions.
Additionally, BitFreezer is offering a 1 BTC “prize” for any BitFreezer owner who manages to get hacked while following the product’s guidelines.
BitFreezer addresses its relatively low cost compared to its competitors on its support page. BitFreezer maintains that its quality is not strictly tied to its price. The company uses European components instead of lower-priced Chinese components, and the BitFreezers are assembled in-house.
What Coins Does It Support?
In addition to the coins supported by ERC20, BitFreezer can handle long-term storage of Bitcoin, Dash, Litecoin, Bitcoin Cash, Neo, NEP5, and Ripple. Support for new or additional coins will be decided by customer vote through the BitFreezer website. The current choices are Nem, Monero, IOTA, and Cardano. The product page states that there will be “New token support updates on a regular basis”
BitFreezer itself is compatible with Windows, Mac, and Linux systems.
BitFreezer’s main competitor, the Ledger Nano S, which supports 25 named coins.
What’s in The Box ?
The BitFreezer arrives in a sealed cellophane wrapper which contains a folder with the following contents:
- BitFreezer Plastic Card with USB Device
- QR Code for Instructions
- PIN Code
- Instruction Card
A neat package with the sealed device in cellophane wrapper.
Inside the package you will find the device which has a security seal taping the USB device down, along with the instructions and your PIN code.
Once the seal is broken on the device you can switch the USB connector around, ready for plugging in to your computer. The instruction card contains a space for notes or writing down your recovery seed.
And here you can see how the device is inserted into any USB port.
How Do You Use It?
To use the device you will need to follow these steps :
- Turn off the computer you wish to use it with
- Plug in the Device to the USB port
- Start the computer
- Boot from the USB drive
- Motherboards will have different commands to enter the boot menu such as ESC / F12 / F8 / F9 etc
- Wait for the OS to load – 2 to 10 mins
- Select Language & Preferences
- Enter PIN code to unlock the device
- Follow On-Screen instructions for creating recovery seed
- Use the apps
Here is a video showing the device setup
Why Would You Use It?
BitFreezer’s developers released it in late 2017 as a lower-cost solution for cryptocurrency cold storage. For comparison, the standard Ledger Nano S cold storage wallet is about $95.
“Being inspired by decentralization and privacy we introduced BitFreezer in late 2017. The project was motivated by absurd prices for equipment related to cryptocurrencies, especially hardware storage wallets. We believe that this is essential to provide affordable and safe crypto wallets,” the developers wrote. “One of the biggest ideas behind cryptocurrencies is that no middleman [sic] needed, i.e. people are becoming banks themselves, would you trust your funds to someone online? We don’t want as well, [sic] so we introduced BitFreezer – hardware crypto wallet for everyone.”
BitFreezer states that it has sold its product to users in at least 17 countries.
What Are the Limits of Cold Storage?
BitFreezer itself says that its wallet is not for everyday use. It is for long-term, secure storage of cryptocurrencies.
This will appeal to anyone following the “HODL” meme/strategy – buy a coin, pull it offline, and then wait for it to accrue value. The stored coins must be sent to an exchange to trade for other coins. Airdrops and similar coin giveaways have to be handled on a coin-by-coin basis, as the BitFreezer does not have a permanent internet connection.
While cold storage is indisputably safer, in the sense that it prevents your coins from being stolen in an exchange failure or hack, it limits mobility in disposing of coins in the event of a sudden price drop. This might not be the top concern of a long-term “HODLer,” but it’s worth noting that using cold storage introduces several additional steps in shedding problem coins.
What Kind of Security Does It Have?
BitFreezer boasts four levels of protection for your cryptocurrencies. The first layer is the proprietary operating system, which BitFreezer calls “hack-proof.” It provides a layer of protection from your computer’s native operating system, which might be infected with malware. Next, data transmitted from and sent to the BitFreezer device is routed through the Tor Onion Network to prevent data intercepts. Two-factor authorization is enabled via the Google Authenticator app. Finally, BitFreezer offers advice on how to encrypt your seed words using techniques that have been “…used for centuries and will become more popular in the future of crypto.”
On the company’s website, it’s possible to get a look at the encryption guide. The encryption guide simply suggests using book or Caesar ciphers – which can be easily Googled – and then provides a list of websites offering books to use as a basis for these ciphers. It’s not proprietary to BitFreezer; indeed, it’s fairly ancient and simple cryptography. That’s not to say it’s not valuable or tough to crack, but it’s not an independent feature of the BitFreezer. Cryptography can be used to safeguard the actual seed words on any wallet – on or offline.
Are There Any Other Security Concerns?
In BitFreezer’s support section, the company explores two separate but linked issues – how can you be sure your funds are safe from BitFreezer itself, and what about BitFreezer clones?
BitFreezer’s developers tout their lack of access to your system as a security feature. A minor hitch attached to that is there is no automatic update system. The developers add that over 1,000 customers are currently using BitFreezer, and there have been no claims against the company thus far.
“Bitfreezer [sic] is easy to use wallet [sic] but not the easiest on the market yet,” the developers write. “This is due to the price you pay for security of your assets. You are connecting to the internet using onion circuit, your [sic] create wallet yourself, you encrypt the seed.”
And If You Happen to Be Holding a Counterfeit BitFreezer?
“Unfortunately, people are copying bitfreezer [sic] wallets and scam people [sic]. We provide original packaging with barcodes attached and the wallet itself has labeling of GoodRam company the only producer of chips for bitfreezer [sic],” according to the support page. “If you believe your wallet is fake do not conduct any operations in it. More over spend some time looking on list of our official distributors.”
BitFreezer is certainly an interesting addition to the Hardware Wallet space, it contains extra security layers not seen on other devices such as the fact that it uses the Tor Onion Network to encrypt and transmit data which prevents it being intercepted over the internet. By bundling it’s own operating system it creates a secure environment which ensures there is no malware or keyloggers present which could cause a security issue.
The device itself is rather novel, being able to fold the USB part away, the device becomes the size of a credit card so will be able to be stored in a wallet or purse.
That being said, this device is not a user-friendly as other solutions which enable you to plug and play and use within your normal operating system’s environment. The device is also slower to use than other wallets due to boot directly into a new operating system which is loaded off the wallet.
The price is very reasonable, at $49 it’s coming in at around half the cost of a Ledger so that’s something to bare in mind and means you could afford two BitFreezer’s for the same cost.
Unfortunately, the fact that the BitFreezer is a fairly new product to the market is also going to count against it. By now the Trezor and Ledger brands are well established and widely trusted within the crypto-community so BitFreezer is going to face an uphill battle to become a viable alternative.