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Backup Feature

The user can do a "full backup" of a Coldcard to external SD card. Simply choose the option from the menu and the Coldcard will pick a strong password for you and display it.

The file we create is a standard 7z archive with AES-256 encryption, in CBC mode. The 256-bit key is a SHA256 hash of a passphrase, hashed in a particular way to support 7z compatibility. We know the passphrase has at least 128-bits of entropy because the Coldcard uses its true random number generator (TRNG) to pick it.

Once decrypted, which is possible using any 7z archive tool, the contents are a simple text file with everything you could need to access your funds, in an emergency, using another wallet system.

Restoring the backup file onto a replacement Coldcard is a simple process that merely requires entering the 12 words.

Is it secure?

We use AES-256 encryption, wrapped in a 7z archive. The passphrase is chosen at random, as 12 words from the BIP39 word list. This gives effectively 132 bits of security without any key stretching. The 7z file format adds a 16-byte salt and random 16-byte IV (initialization vector), plus a few tens of thousands of rounds of key stretching. We are not relying on that however, because of the long key itself (128-bits).

Proving It Works

Because we are using a standard file format, you can verify the process and that the data is in fact encrypted. Any 7z tool that supports AES256-SHA256 encryption should be able to read the files we make. Take the 12 words and put them together with a single space between each word (all lowercase). The decoded archive will contain a single file, ckcc-backup.txt, which is a simple text file and easy to read.

Limitations

  • The archive file names are not encrypted. You can see ckcc-backup.txt in the hex dump of the encrypted file, encoded as utf-16-le bytes.
  • The device PIN code is not preserved during backup.
  • We produce standards-compliant files, but do not support reading any file except the ones produced by Coldcard.
  • Do not attempt to edit the file and restore it onto a Coldcard.
  • You cannot construct a file for the Coldcard to read because we implement only enough to support reading files that we know that we've produced.
  • There is no plausible deniability here: the 7z file is clearly a Coldcard backup file.

Example File

Encrypted File

% hd backup.7z
00000000  37 7a bc af 27 1c 00 03  46 de 5e ba 30 02 00 00  |7z..'...F.^.0...|
00000010  00 00 00 00 6e 00 00 00  00 00 00 00 e0 5c a0 0e  |....n........\..|
00000020  68 1a 57 0a ed 5b 77 89  ea 4a 84 72 d4 75 d6 bd  |h.W..[w..J.r.u..|
00000030  45 13 fc 6a 66 34 47 30  1e c8 08 8e bc 4f 4f 4d  |E..jf4G0.....OOM|
00000040  1d a4 fc 93 2e 08 ff 28  a4 71 cd f7 fe 48 35 69  |.......(.q...H5i|
00000050  3a 6b c8 eb e4 90 6c f5  24 12 55 40 bb 20 59 e5  |:k....l.$.U@. Y.|
00000060  ae d5 62 7b cd 27 b6 4c  15 f5 cf 68 6c e9 30 87  |..b{.'.L...hl.0.|
00000070  96 dd 1d d1 98 e5 e3 cf  ce b3 81 47 f3 7a 14 b8  |...........G.z..|
00000080  c1 f2 48 55 69 09 3f aa  a5 7e 9f 3c 59 a9 c1 b6  |..HUi.?..~.<Y...|
00000090  71 a6 87 bf 9d 0e 26 bc  14 9e ed 3c d9 0c 90 5a  |q.....&....<...Z|
000000a0  7d ea d8 4a 2b 15 a2 cf  9b 38 3a fd a8 a2 b5 49  |}..J+....8:....I|
000000b0  d8 56 03 6a 26 65 c6 b2  c9 5a 67 b0 c7 44 0a 67  |.V.j&e...Zg..D.g|
000000c0  3a 36 29 43 e6 86 d8 f7  b9 36 2c d8 bc 31 36 46  |:6)C.....6,..16F|
000000d0  bb ba ae 77 1f b0 25 e6  ce 7a 58 67 c1 8a 99 69  |...w..%..zXg...i|
000000e0  84 89 94 dc c3 6f cc 1b  e8 4e 00 ca 7b 39 82 6a  |.....o...N..{9.j|
000000f0  8d ca 4f 81 21 95 d7 b8  a2 f9 ed d3 78 f8 a2 1b  |..O.!.......x...|
00000100  31 00 40 60 a3 a2 26 9f  08 f9 9c 4b db f4 86 f3  |1.@`..&....K....|
00000110  42 8b 9b 6a 7e 95 a9 47  18 a2 83 13 40 06 1f f0  |B..j~..G....@...|
00000120  02 e6 48 59 08 ca 37 ad  ce 28 62 2f ab 1b 7a 97  |..HY..7..(b/..z.|
00000130  1a 49 c3 04 dc 89 fb 7b  44 d4 c1 45 a3 7e 95 d8  |.I.....{D..E.~..|
00000140  47 44 8a f3 d2 ba ef d7  fd 11 e0 55 b9 1e f9 ee  |GD.........U....|
00000150  91 6d 9c 4b 3d 88 bc d7  fb 07 10 12 41 b8 b7 4e  |.m.K=.......A..N|
00000160  6a 2b b4 72 38 4a bb f9  65 32 00 6f ec 0a b8 f6  |j+.r8J..e2.o....|
00000170  1a 0b b8 9a 6a a7 2d 40  e4 ca 07 aa 0f 42 8f b4  |....j.-@.....B..|
00000180  62 95 b0 02 b8 c7 25 06  48 4b 3b d5 bd 50 71 26  |b.....%.HK;..Pq&|
00000190  b2 08 95 00 aa 39 46 74  45 73 e5 fe 59 ae 14 d4  |.....9FtEs..Y...|
000001a0  f1 25 47 c8 13 42 bc ef  7f d3 56 52 5d e6 78 19  |.%G..B....VR].x.|
000001b0  68 1c 19 46 52 34 ed 18  84 a7 5f 88 49 4b 89 06  |h..FR4...._.IK..|
000001c0  67 14 dc 34 59 b7 9a ed  93 ca b1 b3 a9 8b b7 39  |g..4Y..........9|
000001d0  b9 1f a0 ed 97 fa 0c 14  dd 08 ba a5 18 34 b7 48  |.............4.H|
000001e0  4d 1a b2 2e 3d 26 47 2c  28 b5 65 91 c6 3b 86 69  |M...=&G,(.e..;.i|
000001f0  51 71 20 88 c1 c7 0d 35  bf 16 a3 20 a4 c3 1e e8  |Qq ....5... ....|
00000200  02 1e 99 f8 27 53 df 14  30 37 22 08 10 e4 62 55  |....'S..07"...bU|
00000210  71 4d 25 e9 00 74 75 e0  9e a6 51 3c 29 5b 27 ab  |qM%..tu...Q<)['.|
00000220  37 71 f1 23 6f e4 20 af  74 68 93 2c 3f 2e 20 db  |7q.#o. .th.,?. .|
00000230  56 f0 5f 58 20 27 a8 6b  1f 89 2b 26 c0 4b 00 e3  |V._X '.k..+&.K..|
00000240  ea 35 87 f5 69 9f 09 f6  e0 a3 c7 ab c2 f3 35 a8  |.5..i.........5.|
00000250  01 04 06 00 01 09 c0 30  02 00 07 0b 01 00 01 24  |.......0.......$|
00000260  06 f1 07 01 22 cd ff 0a  01 01 28 37 a5 67 2c 1f  |....".....(7.g,.|
00000270  83 d6 74 ad 31 65 25 29  95 14 28 fc c1 46 93 51  |..t.1e%)..(..F.Q|
00000280  83 96 8a fd 30 99 7f 01  00 0c c0 2f 02 00 08 0a  |....0....../....|
00000290  01 95 db 3b 71 00 00 05  01 11 21 00 63 00 6b 00  |...;q.....!.c.k.|
000002a0  63 00 63 00 2d 00 62 00  61 00 63 00 6b 00 75 00  |c.c.-.b.a.c.k.u.|
000002b0  70 00 2e 00 74 00 78 00  74 00 00 00 00 00        |p...t.x.t.....|
000002be

If you are playing along at home, the passphrase for the above file is:

spice until comfort zoo divide album erode yard inmate change quantum skate

You can grab the example file here and test it yourself, or use a real Coldcard to make your own.

Archive Contents

% 7z l backup.7z

7-Zip [64] 15.09 beta : Copyright (c) 1999-2015 Igor Pavlov : 2015-10-16
p7zip Version 15.09 beta (locale=utf8,Utf16=on,HugeFiles=on,64 bits,4 CPUs x64)

Scanning the drive for archives:
1 file, 702 bytes (1 KiB)

Listing archive: backup.7z

--
Path = backup.7z
Type = 7z
Physical Size = 702
Headers Size = 142
Method = 7zAES
Solid = -
Blocks = 1

   Date      Time    Attr         Size   Compressed  Name
------------------- ----- ------------ ------------  ------------------------
                    .....          559          560  ckcc-backup.txt
------------------- ----- ------------ ------------  ------------------------
                                   559          560  1 files

No passphrase is required to do this, and it does check CRC32 values, so simple truncation or unintentional corruption can be easily detected, without knowledge of the passphrase.

Decrypt Archive (requires passphrase)

7z x backup.7z

7-Zip [64] 15.09 beta : Copyright (c) 1999-2015 Igor Pavlov : 2015-10-16
p7zip Version 15.09 beta (locale=utf8,Utf16=on,HugeFiles=on,64 bits,4 CPUs x64)

Scanning the drive for archives:
1 file, 702 bytes (1 KiB)

Extracting archive: backup.7z
--
Path = backup.7z
Type = 7z
Physical Size = 702
Headers Size = 142
Method = 7zAES
Solid = -
Blocks = 1


Enter password (will not be echoed):
Everything is Ok

Size:       559
Compressed: 702

This process creates a file ckcc-backup.txt in the current directory.

Contents of ckcc-backup.txt

% cat ckcc-backup.txt
# Coldcard backup file! DO NOT CHANGE.

# Private key details
mnemonic = "index abuse oil swift wolf clarify broom auto student media ribbon blossom hundred brief tomato abandon copy design angle memory narrow urge bulk resemble"
xprv = "xprv9s21ZrQH143K2pSWq6uW4ARspjhHfzVWM1ceM2sPVJWS9QWeuHYRHbYFcL3F3199vUPFE2SpFEhxnZJKQhqbZSZxFkYCt1LJidizB8tqXM6"
raw_secret = "8272c026676defcc53c7307cd7714ee40c06f237f9000030077823457931dec785"

# Firmware version (informational)
fw_date = "2018-02-30"
fw_version = "SIM"

# User preferences
setting.terms_ok = 1

# EOF

As you can see, it is a simple text file and if you needed to access your funds without the help of a Coldcard, it would be a simple matter to import either the xprv (BIP32 master) or the mnemonic (BIP39) into another wallet system.

You can’t perform that action at this time.