One of the rising threats to individuals’ rights is the lack of privacy in everyday interactions, mostly online. In Bitcoin, privacy can be preserved, but only if the network is used in the right way — one slip-up and it becomes easy to trace a person’s transaction history.
Trezor Suite lets you keep finances confidential. Digital assets like Bitcoin are growing more regulated and therefore appear safer to the average person, but that comes at the expense of making individuals hand over highly sensitive personal data, regularly and without proper precautions taken to protect them.
Privacy is often a secondary focus for those building on Bitcoin. Ensuring there is robust infrastructure in place for Bitcoin is a priority; confidentiality at the expense of sound money would be a mistake. Instead, greater anonymity is achieved through separate tools that obscure interactions with the base layer.
To make it easier to protect oneself, Trezor Suite is a new privacy-focused interface for Trezor hardware wallets that packages privacy tools in a way that everyone can use them, even without technical experience. Anyone can download Trezor Suite and start using the features described below to help mitigate the risks of losing control over private data.
The Tor switch
Connecting to the internet requires an account with an Internet Service Provider (ISP). This results in users’ identities being tied to their IP address, as well as their physical address. No ISP provider can guarantee to protect this information, which often makes it possible to find out a person’s physical location from a post on an online forum. This can turn a harmless comment on social media into a dangerous situation.
Using Tor, a free and open-source network that reroutes internet traffic through many different servers, prevents your ISP from observing your internet traffic. While Tor is quite technical, here it has been simplified so it can be easily used by anyone to mask their connections.
In Trezor Suite, Tor is integrated as a switch: simply turn it on with a single click and your internet traffic will be routed anonymously, so no-one can trace your transactions back to your physical address, or even which country you reside in.
Using Tor is recommended, but in some cases it can slow down connections. Another way to detach identity from an IP address is to use Locktime. This is a simple feature that broadcasts transactions only after a certain time or block height has been reached, meaning the transaction can be signed on one machine, completely offline, and later broadcast from another, preferably using a public network.
Locktime is very easy to use in Trezor Suite. Simply fill out the details of a transaction like normal, enable Locktime and set a block height or time (in Unix timestamp format) to broadcast it after (this can also be a time or blockheight in the past). The below example would broadcast around 6 days after the current block, number 687800.
Alternatively, the Locktime could be set as a Unix timestamp in the format 1624363496, which would broadcast after exactly 6 days.
Sign the transaction, copy the hexadecimal output and save it somewhere — a text document is fine. Then, bring the file with you and broadcast it elsewhere by copying and pasting the data into a blockchain explorer with broadcast capabilities.
Click ‘Send’ and your transaction will be sent over the network at the time or block height you specified, or immediately if the specified time has already passed.
When using a Trezor around other people, physical privacy becomes an issue. Showing off account balances — accidentally or otherwise — can lead to risk of extortion or harm. That’s why there is a switch in Trezor that blurs out all sensitive data, only revealing it on mouse-over.
This is a simple but very important feature, which should be used anywhere there are other people, cameras or views of your screen. The toggle for enabling discreet mode is found just next to the Tor switch, shaped like an eye.
Generating new addresses for each transaction
When using a cryptocurrency, one of the main ways that activity can be concealed is by not reusing addresses that transactions were sent to in the past. Trezor hardware wallets use cryptography to derive a practically unlimited number of addresses from a single seed.
This means that in Trezor Suite a user will always be given a new, unused address each time they wish to receive a transaction, making it much harder to determine that the two addresses both belong to the same individual.
It is still possible to use the same address more than once, so recurring payments can be set using the same address, but it is better to be strict about using a new address whenever possible.
Knowing the public key from which the addresses are derived will make it possible to link those addresses. That’s why Trezor Suite uses accounts to segregate coins: each set of addresses used by a Trezor Suite account is linked to a different XPUB (extended public key) so you can manage coins across accounts and choose whether to expose the XPUB (and therefore make it possible to link addresses) or not.
Trezor Suite makes privacy easy, for everyone
Even for those with nothing to hide, privacy is essential. Knowledge is power, and knowing the intimate details of a person’s life grants power over them, even if they lead admirable, perfectly law-abiding lives.
Lack of privacy leaves people vulnerable to manipulation, whether that be blackmail or something seemingly much more innocent, such as adverts that target a particular problem they are facing.
Until a uniform, sensible and technologically-informed plan for managing KYC and AML data is developed by regulatory bodies — if that’s ever likely to happen — users who do not protect their privacy are at risk of data breaches and identity theft should they wish to comply with local regulation.
Using Trezor Suite can improve your privacy through these easy-to-use features, making sure no-one but you has a say in who has access to your personal data. With more privacy-boosting features such as CoinJoin on our roadmap for this year, Trezor users can look forward to even greater anonymity without the hassle. Use Trezor Suite and reclaim your independence.
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