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Secure Element in Trezor Safe Devices

A significant advancement in the Trezor hardware wallet series is the integration of a dedicated Secure Element, first introduced in the Trezor Safe 3 and now also incorporated into the new Trezor Safe 5. This feature highlights our commitment to bolstering security without compromising the foundational open-source philosophy that Trezor is known for.

What is a Secure Element and what does it (not) do?

The Secure Element serves as a robust shield for sensitive data. First, it enhances the physical security of the Trezor by adding a layer of safety to the PIN protection mechanism. Second, it plays an important role in verifying the authenticity of your device.

The Secure Element used in the Trezor Safe 3 and Safe 5 is the OPTIGA™ Trust M (V3). In effect, it is a chip designed to protect highly sensitive information from software and hardware attacks. In the context of hardware wallets, what you really need to protect is your recovery seed. The trick is to design a mechanism in which the Secure Element doesn’t learn your wallet backup (recovery seed) - and that’s what we’ve implemented here.

The Secure Element used in the Trezor Safe family of devices protects your PIN (without learning it), which releases a secret (stored on the Secure Element), which in turn protects your recovery seed (stored only on the Trezor general purpose chip, encrypted by both the device PIN and the secret stored on the Secure Element).

We do not run code on the chip itself. The Secure Element simply stores a secret that can be used to decrypt the recovery seed, i.e., it never actually knows what your recovery seed is.

Enhanced Security with CC EAL6+ Certification

The Trezor Safe 5 and Safe 3 retain the advanced security features of their predecessors and reinforce them with a CC EAL6+ certified Secure Element—reflecting the highest level of security assurance for any consumer hardware wallet on the market today. This certification exemplifies an in-depth and rigorous evaluation of the Secure Element, designed to withstand highly sophisticated attacks.

EAL6+ Secure Element benefits:

  • Rigorous Testing: This level of certification involves extensive testing processes that scrutinize the Secure Element’s defense mechanisms thoroughly.
  • Enhanced Security Features: The '+' in EAL6+ represents additional security safeguards beyond the standard EAL6 criteria, providing extra protection layers.
  • Transparency and Trust: Attaining CC EAL6+ without non-disclosure agreements allows us to maintain full transparency about our security processes, thus enhancing trust within our user base.

Are the Trezor Safe 3 and Safe 5 still open source?

Indeed. These devices continue our commitment to transparency and user empowerment, and our code (which handles your wallet backup and keys) remains fully open source. This approach underpins our core values of trust and security verification by our user community. We've also managed to source the OPTIGA™ Trust M (V3) chips from a producer that does not restrict us from freely publishing potential vulnerabilities, so we can stay true to our open-source philosophy.

Are the Trezor Safe 3 and Trezor Safe 5 safer than the Model One or Model T?

Having the extra layer of protection afforded by the Secure Element is not a silver bullet. While it provides added security against certain physical attack vectors, we strongly recommend that all Trezor users learn how to safely use a strong passphrase, which offers an un-hackable level of protection to your funds.

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