SPLITTING THE SECRET. The case for Shamir Backup with the Cryptosteel Capsule

The Shamir Backup system has revolutionized the Cryptocurrency world by creating a new standard of Master Seed protection.

  1. Importance of splitting the recovery seed
  2. The Shamir backup with Cryptosteel Capsules

By splitting your information up and requiring a certain minimum to access the Master Seed, Shamir Backup has become one of the best methods for securing your data.

Importance of splitting the recovery seed

Cryptosteel and Shamir Backup

The Cryptosteel Capsule is a tool primarily used to backup information offline and securely. One of the best and most popular ways of using the Capsule is with the Shamir Backup method with multiple Capsules. The Shamir Backup method splits the seed into multiple parts (aka “shares”). To recover the wallet, a certain number of shares must be used (this is known as the “threshold”). Typically, this is the majority of designated shares. You can use, for example, 2-of-3 Shares with the Cryptosteel Capsule Trio bundle, or 3-of-5 in combination with the Cryptosteel Capsule Quintet bundle. You can select up to 16 shares when creating the Shamir Backup and set the threshold.

Why should one actually care about splitting the secret and backing up shares? Even the largest and most complex systems that are perceived as the most secure can fail, and the cause can be quite small. This situation is called the SPOF – the single point of failure. It can suddenly happen to anyone, which is why creating solutions to protect from it is key. In this case, it is when you lose your password. Without your password, you are completely blocked out of the system – your single point of failure. Without it, you are unable to access your Wallet, and as there is no centralized authority, you will be unable to recover it. Without access to your Wallet, you have no access to your cryptocurrencies. The Shamir Backup method was created to address this problem. By distributing your information and requiring a desired number of shares to access the Master Seed, you exponentially lower the risk of losing the Master Seed.

Shamir Backup

Additionally, with Shamir Backup, information that you are trying to protect cannot be compromised even in the case of aggressive acts, like theft, bribery, vandalism and even violence, as long as the aggressor only has access to fewer shares than what is required. With this, you are given a very high degree of safety both from losing your password and having it stolen. 

The Shamir backup with Cryptosteel Capsules

The designated number of shares will be created by hardware wallets, such as Trezor, who developed it based on the original concept. Follow the instructions from your hardware wallet screen.  Afterward, you can prepare your Capsules.

The password itself is a sequence of either 20 or 33 English words, each representing an encoded part of the master seed password. To identify that they are shares from the same backup, the first three words will be the same for every share. By accessing the threshold of shares you will have the master password and the ability to recover the wallet.

The words are taken from a list of 2048 English words which can be identified by their first four letters. When storing your share offline with the Capsule, use abbreviated forms of each word. By using abbreviations you don’t lose any information, as the full words can be fully recognized by the first four letters. After preparing the abbreviated words, store each share in its own Capsule. Prepare your tiles and place them on the core so that the first word is closest to the cap (the top), face up. We suggest doing this one word at a time in order to minimize the possibility of making a mistake. A 33-word share is also possible, but is generally only for experts. Remember – apply a fastener after the last tile! After you have finished preparing the Capsules, check that the tiles are readable, accurate, and securely fastened.

After all of the shares are safe inside their Capsules, it’s time to store them. Each Capsule is remarkably resistant to physical damage – including fire, flooding, corrosion, electric shocks, and blunt-force damage. Each Capsule is quite small and lightweight, with an unbranded and minimalistic style, which allows a nearly unlimited number of options for storage.

Capsule is remarkably resistant to physical damage.

It’s key to remember that a security system is only as strong as its weakest link, so when storing your Capsules, be sure that the locations are safe, secure, and trustworthy. Storing Capsules together defeats the purpose, so be sure to use your imagination and use a diverse range of storage options and locations. It’s a good idea to use a DIY seal and to make inspecting your Capsules a regular part of your security procedure. You can also easily create fireproof identification labels with wire and leftover tiles, which may be important for those who want to protect more than one Master Seed.

While this may seem complex, it doesn’t have to be! All these steps are described and illustrated in detail on our open-source OP-SEC map in order to guide everyone through this necessary and important process. Also, we have online video tutorials available.  Our goal is to make the backup process easy!

Make the backup process easy.

Cryptosteel believes the greatest risk to safety and prosperity today lies with the centralization of information, resources, and power. By allowing people to physically safeguard their own digital keys, we champion the decentralization of digital assets, virtual identities, and personal data.