Ledger plans to accelerate open source work in wake of Recover backlash

Quick Take

  • Hardware wallet maker Ledger says it will address concerns about its Recover service by working to accelerate its open sourcing roadmap. 
  • “Ledger never compromises on security,” CEO Pascal Gauthier wrote.

Hardware wallet maker Ledger, which has faced a backlash over a recently announced service that would help users recover their private keys, said Tuesday that it would try and assuage concerns by working to increase transparency and accelerate its open source roadmap.

"Ledger never compromises on security," CEO Pascal Gauthier wrote in a blog post, saying the company hadn't intended to surprise anyone with the announcement of the service. "Our unintentional communication mistake took everyone by surprise and affected our customer’s ability to accurately understand Ledger Recover, its role for the growing crypto community, and for Ledger’s future offering."

The company, which unveiled the service earlier this month, had struggled to explain how it would safeguard users' private keys, especially against the risk of hypothetical government subpoenas.

The service works by splitting a user's seed phase into 3 pieces, which would then be shared with Ledger and two other companies, CoinCover and EscrowTech, to be combined in the event of a user losing access to their keys. 

Ledger CTO Charles Guillemet had previously said the perceived security tradeoff of the new product was acceptable. Gauthier tried to ease fears about possible subpoenas earlier this week, when he said that it was not something that typically affects the average user. 

Ledger says seed phrase recovery remains pain point


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"We believe wholeheartedly in the need for a service like Ledger Recover," he wrote Tuesday. "The main pain point for crypto self-custody adoption is precisely the problem of seed phrase recovery."

Gauthier said the vast majority of Ledger’s codebase was already open source, and the acceleration would include as much of the Ledger operating system as possible, including core components of the operating system.

"We will open source the Ledger Recover protocol, enabling the community to have as much choice as possible over your self-custody, in addition to the service being fully optional," he said. "We are doing this for more transparency going forward; this does not change the security of your device."

Users who want increased security, meanwhile, can enable a passphrase feature that is not included in the Ledger Recover and can be "a fully trustless feature," he added.

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About Author

Nathan Crooks is the U.S managing editor at The Block, based in Miami. He was previously at Bloomberg News for 12 years, where he helmed coverage of South Florida after roles as a breaking news editor and bureau chief in Caracas, Venezuela. He's interviewed presidents, government ministers and CEOs, and, besides crypto, has covered major news events on the ground from earthquakes to hurricanes to the Chilean mine rescue in 2018. Nathan, a native of Clarion, Pennsylvania, holds a bachelor's degree from the University of Toronto, where he completed a specialist in political science, and an MBA from American University in Washington, D.C.