Ledger co-founder refutes backdoor claims in latest firmware update

TL;DR Breakdown

  • Ledger’s co-founder Éric Larchevêque points to the hate the company got that “I'm honestly [on] the verge of tears,"
  • Company professionals insist that the latest addition to the wallet is safe without a backdoor.
  • It remains an investors choice to use Ledger or not.

In a recent statement, the co-founder of Ledger, one of the leading crypto hardware wallet manufacturers, has clarified speculations regarding the security of their recover firmware update. This announcement comes amidst concerns raised by some users about the possibility of a backdoor in the update compromising the integrity of their digital assets.

Ledger co-founder addresses concerns over recover firmware update

The launch of Ledger Recover, a service that allows Ledger hardware wallet users to back up their private recovery phrases, was greeted with intense opposition from the crypto community. Ledger co-founder and former CEO Éric Larchevêque characterized the company’s criticism as “a total PR failure, but absolutely not a technical one.”

Ledger’s co-founder emphasized the company’s unwavering commitment to security and reassured users that there is no backdoor in the recover firmware update. He highlighted that the wallet is dedicated to maintaining the highest standards of security and privacy for their customers’ crypto assets. 

Larchevêque clarified on Reddit that Ledger was never a trustless solution in response to the rising concerns of users around the globe.

Some amount of trust must be placed into Ledger to use their product. If you don’t trust Ledger, meaning you treat your HW manufacturer as an adversary, that can’t work at all.

Éric Larchevêque 

With over millions of users worldwide, the wallet has become a trusted name in the crypto industry. Their hardware wallets provide a secure offline environment for storing private keys, offering an added layer of protection against cyber threats and hacking attempts.

He argued that the recent update has no effect on the security model of the hardware wallet. He added:

My mistake as a CEO during my tenure was probably not be relentless enough about explaining the security model, but at some point you just give up as people don’t care at all. Until they care again, like now.

Éric Larchevêque 

Larchevêque believed that the only thing that has changed is the perspective of the average user on unreliability, and that the Recover code in the firmware is not malicious:

[The wallet] is still safe, there is no backdoor, the Ledger Recover is not a conspiracy, no one will ever force anyone to use Recover.

Éric Larchevêque 

The aforementioned firmware update is unavailable for Nano S, Ledger’s most affordable hardware wallet, because the chipset lacks sufficient memory to store the new firmware.

The hard lesson learnt by Ledger: Being right isn’t good enough

Ledger, despite being at the forefront of crypto security, has recently faced challenges that have highlighted the importance of not only being right but also effectively addressing concerns and maintaining trust in an evolving digital landscape.

In response to the release of the wallet’s contentious firmware update, GridPlus, a competing hardware wallet provider, decided to open-source its firmware for its customers.

Using the wallet controversy as a marketing opportunity, GridPlus announced plans to make its device firmware as open source in the third quarter of 2023 in order to increase transparency. The co-founder also noted that there had been too much hate.

I’m devastated to come on this subreddit, that I created nine years ago, to see images of Ledger devices burning, insults, and lot and lot of anger. I’m honestly [on] the verge of tears.

Éric Larchevêque 

Larchevêque co-founded hardware wallet in 2014 and served as its CEO until 2019. Currently, he is only a company shareholder; he does not occupy an executive position. Therefore, the views conveyed in his post are his own and do not represent the official position of Ledger on the issue.

According to Philip Costigan, the communications director for the hardware wallet, the new feature does not imply that the device communicates with custodians over the internet, as Ledger wallets “have no WiFi or other internet connection capability.”

Costigan explained that to transmit encrypted portions of the seed to custodians, users must connect their wallet to their phone via Bluetooth and the wallets app. When the hardware wallet owners want to expend crypto from their wallets, the same mechanism is used to authorize transactions.

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Florence Muchai

Florence Muchai

Florence is a crypto enthusiast and writer who loves to travel. As a digital nomad, she explores the transformative power of blockchain technology. Her writing reflects the limitless possibilities for humanity to connect and grow.