Review: Cryptosteel

Review

We recently wrote an article about the recovery seed and how best to store it. We briefly talked about the Cryptosteel, a solution to safely store your recovery seed. In this article we do a review of the Cryptosteel.

Cryptosteal

So far on bitcoin.nl we have only done reviews of the various available hardware wallets: the Trezor One, the Trezor Model T, the Ledger Nano S and the Digital BitBox. This review is slightly different. The Cryptosteel is not a wallet that you can use every day, but a safe storage for your recovery seed. All bitcoin wallets have one thing in common: when you create the wallet you get a recovery seed that you should keep well. The recovery seed serves as a backup in case the wallet is lost. Storing this seed can sometimes be a challenge, because storing a large amount of bitcoins on a piece of paper in your sock drawer may not be the safest solution. Enter Cryptosteel.

The Cryptosteel is a stainless steel holder for your recovery seed. The Cryptosteel is an idea of founder and CEO Wojtek Stopiski. The Cryptosteel is available in several variants: the MNEMONIC, for storing your 12- or 24-word seed; the ANYKEY, for storing random strings like your master seed; the HEX, for storing a hexadecimal string; and finally the MIX, for storing both recovery seed, master seed and private key or hexadecimal string. The price of the four variants ranges from $ 79 for the HEX to $ 199 for the MIX. Each Cryptosteel is handmade in Poland. In this review we take a look at the MNEMONIC.

Reception

The Cryptosteel comes in a package with creative artwork by Rafael Akahira, titled “Mutant”. The Cryptosteel is well packaged and unpacking requires some caution to avoid hundreds of letters flying around the room. Inside we find the Cryptosteal itself and more than 245 letters with which to enter our seed. In addition, a number of empty letter tiles are packed for words consisting of three letters. The letter tiles are printed twice: for example an M on one side and a D on the other side. This way we know for sure that we always have enough letter tiles to form our seed.

The Cryptosteel clamps itself shut with two metal pins and can be folded open, revealing the letter drawers. One side contains space for the first 12 words of a 24-word recovery seed and the other side for the remaining 12 words. The Cryptosteel is 100% made of stainless steel (AISI 304) and feels very solid. This makes the Cryptosteel resistant to fire and moisture damage. Cryptosteel indicates that the storage is fireproof up to 1200??C, which is better than top class fireproof safes. Although the Cryptosteel is of course not protected against theft of the seed, it is completely safe from all other physical dangers. The steel holder is slightly larger than the size of a bank card and about as thick as the average smartphone.??

In practice

To enter our seed we need to open the letter drawer. This is locked with a mechanism that keeps the letter tiles in place. To open this lock, we turn a screw (top right) a quarter turn and push a locking pin (in the slot at the bottom) to the side. The mechanism feels very solid and does not just come loose

To enter our seed, we need to match the right letter tiles. As you can see, there is only room for four letters per word. This was done deliberately, because the operation of BIP39 only requires the first four letters of each word to restore the wallet – 96 letters in total. Let’s use a random 12-word seed from the Bitcoin wiki pages as an example:

witch collapse practice feed shame open despair creek road again ice least

Entering the recovery seed takes some time, but after ten minutes of puzzling all the letters are in place. After closing the locking mechanism, the letter tiles are very well secured. Now all that remains is the challenge of safely storing the Cryptosteel, but since it is resistant to just about any physical danger, we can safely bury it anywhere in the garden or hide it in the fireplace.

Conclusion

The Cryptosteel is a nice addition to increase the security of your bitcoins. For the storage of small amounts, the purchase may not be worthwhile, but for larger amounts it may be advisable to take extra precautions. The Cryptosteel is not cheap, but it is cheaper than purchasing a fireproof safe and installing it.

Advantages

  • Water, rust, fire and impact resistant
  • Good build quality
  • More secure than a paper backup

Cons

  • Relatively expensive compared to a hardware wallet

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