Trezor CTO Attacks “Unhackable” BitFi Wallet

BitFi, John McAfee’s purportedly unhackable wallet, was heavily criticized by Trezor CTO Pavol Rusnak, after it threatened to challenge the solutions invented by the Czech Republic-based company with its patents.

Since the launch of Bitcoin in 2009, the basis of blockchain development has always been the global open-source community of developers. Most blockchain protocols like Ethereum, cryptocurrency wallets and solutions are publicly accessible as open-source software on repositories such as Github, on which developers can freely suggest additions, changes, and improvements.

However, over the past year, some companies including Nchain and BitFi along with major conglomerates have started to patent blockchain-related solutions with the intent of attacking open source software developers that have contributed to the blockchain space for over nine years, without any incentive or compensation to improve the infrastructure of the cryptocurrency industry.

Outraged by the threats of BitFi to potentially engage in a lawsuit against Trezor for the technologies the Trezor team developed and adopted first, the company’s CTO Pavol Rusnak said:

Controversy Worsens

The controversy around BitFi intensified when several developers claimed to have gained root access of a BitFi device, which the company touted as an unhackable piece of software and hardware.

The BitFi team responded to the claims with an argument that the hackers weren’t able to steal funds from the BitFi device, but as a non-custodial hardware wallet, stealing user funds is not possible, and obtaining root access can, by definition, be considered as a successful hacking attempt.

The issue with BitFi is that while it claimed it is unhackable because it does not store any data by providing its users complete authority and control over their sensitive financial information such as the private key of a wallet, every other hardware wallet in the cryptocurrency sector including Trezor, KeepKey, and Ledger also do not store user information and by the definition of the BitFi team, are also unhackable. The BitFi team said:

“We don’t understand all these attacks and why people are so angry about the unhackable claim. Once we see evidence of a possible hack we will fix it immediately and if we can’t we will amend our claims. Isn’t that what responsible companies do?”

Hence, if the BitFi team’s logic behind its unhackable claims is that its device cannot be breached into because it does not hold any user information, then every other hardware wallet in the cryptocurrency sector can make the same claim, which eliminates the supposed advantage BitFi has over existing competitors in the space.

McAfee Responds

John McAfee, who has been the front man for BitFi since its launch earlier this year, released a series of statements defending BitFi and the hacking attacks one of its devices experienced on August 2.

McAfee echoed a similar sentiment as the BitFi team, claiming that the device was not hacked because the hacker could not steal funds from the device, adding that until a hacker steals funds from the BitFi device, the company has the right to claim it is unhackable.

As a non-custodial wallet, BitFi may be secure and have a strong development team, but, its marketing tactics led the cryptocurrency community to turn against the hardware wallet manufacturer, as it continued issue claims about the nature of the security of its wallet and attack its competitors in the space with patents, which disregard the philosophy of open-source development in the blockchain industry.

Cover Photo by Stephane YAICH on Unsplash

Posted In: Analysis, Hacks, Technology
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Joseph Young

Joseph Young

Analyst @ CryptoSlate

Joseph Young is a finance and tech journalist. He has worked with leading media and news agencies in the technology and finance industries, offering exclusive content, interviews, insights and analysis of cryptocurrencies, innovative and futuristic technologies.

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