The single-signature wallets have been very significant for performing frequent and daily transactions; however, they form a single-point failure. Compromising a single signature wallet will require only one private key, where the need for a more secure technology comes into light. To overcome this problem, Multi-Signature Wallets were introduced. The multi-signature wallets not only eliminated the single-point failure problem but also provided many significant advantages like account recovery in case one of the keys is lost, or double-checking before transactions as, on the blockchain, the transactions are irreversible. So, is the Multi-Signature Wallet the most secure as compared to other types of wallets?
Yes, multi-signature wallets are more secure than single-signature wallets, but they still possess a few vulnerabilities that we will be talking about later. In this chapter, we will be looking into the concept of multi-signature wallets, their working, advantages, issues that even multi-signature wallets can’t solve, the best multi-sig wallets, and the future estimation of multi-sig wallets.
What do you mean by Multi-Signature Wallets?
The multi-signature wallets are the type of wallets that require more than one signature to perform a transaction. This method requires multiple cryptographic signatures to access the wallet. These can be termed as shared wallets where different users have equal control over the private keys.
In traditional crypto wallets, a single user has complete control over the crypto assets. But in the single-sig wallet’s case, there is a single-point failure that can be considered as dangerous in terms of safety. To eliminate this single-point failure, multi-signature wallets were introduced.
Here, the number of users, such as two or three, is given an equal proportion of the private key. In order to perform transactions, each user or the majority of the users need to sign in using their part of the private key.
Why do we need Multi-Signature Wallets?
The need for multi-signature came due to the importance of the security of the crypto wallets. The control of funds by a single person creates a single-point failure; hence, multi-signature wallets were introduced. Here, multiple users are required to come together in order to perform a transaction. This provides increased security because if one of the users is compromised, still the attacker will need the rest of the private key to access the funds. Also, this helps in double-checking the transaction before implementation as the transactions are irreversible.
Working on Multi-Signature Wallets:
In simple words, the multi-signature wallets are an analogy to a secure deposit box that has two locks. To open the box, it will require both keys and hence, mutual consent between both the owners of the deposit box. If either of the keys is wrong the deposit box will not open, which provides an additional layer of security. The multi-signature wallets also require more than one private key to complete the transaction. In a multi-sig wallet, the single private key is separated into multiple parts allowing the users to store each part separately.
There are different types of multi-signature wallets, such as N:M and M:M wallets, where N represents the minimum number of private keys required to perform a transaction and M represents the total number of private keys of the wallet. For example, in the 2:3 multi-signature wallets, the user requires at least 2 private keys to move the crypto assets. Hence, the majority of the users can decide what to do with the crypto funds.
The following is the illustration of the working of the Multi-Signature Wallets:
Is a Multi-Signature Wallet significant to you?
The multi-signature wallets are definitely more significant for users depending on their requirements. The following is the classification of how different types of users are benefited from multi-sig wallets:
Individual – Individual users can add an additional layer of security by availing of the multi-sig wallet. Individuals can use their distinct devices as multiple users. For Instance, the user can use their mobile, laptop, and computer as different devices required to perform the transaction. This will ensure that in case one of the devices gets compromised, still, the attacker will require the remaining devices to perform a transaction, therefore, ensuring security.
Organization – The organization requires storing a large number of funds that too under equal control of the different shareholders. This makes sure that the fund is controlled by each shareholder equally. To move funds the majority of shareholders need to come together and perform the transaction.
Between companies – Between organizations, the multi-sig wallet can work as a mutual agreement for a deal and hence, helps in reaching a consensus. This can work as a smart contract between the parties. the dealing parties can store the funds in the multi-sig wallets with controls of private keys distributed equally. After completion of the deal, the funds can be transferred to the appropriate party. This helps in creating a trustless environment for both parties.
Hence, different types of users can get different advantages from this type of wallet.
How to set up a Multi-Signature Wallet?
In the past, it used to be difficult to set up a multi-signature wallet as it has been the developer’s domain from the start. However, today we have a software wallet that helps in smoothing this process. The PrimaFelicitas is one of the best cryptocurrency wallet development companies that offer exceptional features such as Public Key Auto Generation, Recurring Invoicing, Optional Session logout, Trading Suggestions, Duplicate Payment Auto Denial, Two-Factor Authentication, etc. It includes an efficient team of experts with credible experience in the blockchain field. Furthermore, it provides an impeccable custom wallet that offers bank-grade security for faster payment solutions.
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Advantages of Multi-Signature Wallets:
The multi-signature protocol provides high security for managing crypto assets. Apart from this, it also facilitates several benefits that are stated below.
- Increased security level: The multi-sig wallets facilitate an additional level of protection as compared to single-signature wallets. It becomes much harder for the attacker to fetch all the required keys to perform the transaction.
- Escrow transactions: The escrow is referred to as a legal arrangement in which the third party holds crypto assets until specific conditions are fulfilled. The 2:3 multi-sig wallets enable third-party involvement in the deal between two parties. Here, the transaction includes a mutually-trusted 3rd party, if anything went wrong. In case of a dispute, the two parties can only authorize the transaction, and the third party is only to make the final decision.
- Making decisions: The multi-sig wallets can be held as a joint wallet for company funds. For instance, the company formed a 4:6 multi-sig wallet, this will require a minimum of 4 private keys to gain access and use the funds. A single person can’t access the funds, which establishes an agreement among the key shareholders.
- Two-factor authentication: The multi-sig wallets facilitate two-factor authentication as the users can hold multiple private keys on distinct devices. The user can either hold multiple private keys on different devices or this can be shared between different users to keep it safe.
Issues that multi-sig wallet failed to address:
There are several issues that even multi-signature wallets are unable to solve. These issues are listed below:
- Technical knowledge: Setting up a multi-sig wallet needs a certain level of technical knowledge. However, as the competition between wallets is increasing, the provider has started making the process simple in recent years.
- Speed of transactions: The multi-sig wallets often slow down the transaction speed as it is dependent on a third party, location, or device in order to access the wallet. This becomes an immediate problem for users that require instant transactions. For instance, the user requires waiting for the other party or user to agree to the transaction before performing it.
- Key mismanagement: The possibility of key mismanagement is higher in the case of multi-sig wallets. This is because, in the multi-sig wallet, the private keys are broken into multiple keys using an algorithm. Further, the segmented keys are shared with the users using the token bridges. However, these token bridges can be exploited which can result in compromising the user’s wallet. Hence, a secure method for managing and bridging the keys is required.
What is key management in the Multi-Signature Wallet?
The multi-signature wallet adds protection to the user’s crypto funds. However, looking from a company’s perspective it becomes very essential to manage the keys and protect them from any sort of unauthorized transaction. For a secure and efficient approach, organizations should keep or store private keys in a hierarchical manner. The private keys with high priority should be stored in cold storage and should be utilized only for administrative operations. Whereas, the low-priority keys can be kept in hot wallets and can be utilized for small purchases. In case, the low-priority keys are compromised, the high-priority keys should be utilized to restore and back up them.
The key management also facilitates more benefits that appeal to the organizational users. The multi-signature wallets allow multiple users to merge their respective parts of the key and perform the transaction. For instance, a real-estate organization and a property management service can develop a multi-signature wallet to co-manage a property. The key pieces should be protected using cryptography. According to the size of the ecosystem, the number of private keys can be thousands or more. Without a safe and efficient key management system, it might become difficult for a cryptosystem to function securely.
Best Multi-Signature Wallets:
There are several multi-signature wallets in the market claiming to be the best. However, it becomes the user’s responsibility to determine which wallet is the best for them by looking into the security and features they provide. The following are a few best multi-signature wallets with the benefits they provide:
- Electrum: It is a light-weighted wallet that doesn’t need a complete blockchain to be downloaded. It is a decentralized wallet that provides a recovery facility. In case, anything happens at the user’s end, the funds can be still recovered easily using the secret recovery phrase. These wallets are always running with zero downtime. They also facilitate verification of all transactions using Simple Payment Verification.
- BitGo: It is one of the most powerful Bitcoin wallets that are available on distinct devices like mobile, web, and desktop. It facilitates an additional security feature which is 3-key management. These keys are the client key that initiates transitions, the BitGo key that verifies the transactions, and the backup key that is used to recover from a disaster.
- Armory: It facilitates a full-node Bitcoin wallet and needs to download the complete blockchain to perform operations. It is a centralized wallet that provides a better desktop client as compared to Bitcoin core. It also provides other features like backup, protected cold storage, and a 7-of-7 multi-signature wallet. It is available on different desktop devices like Windows, Linux, and Mac.
Will Multi-Signature Wallets be in our future?
Yes, the possibility of multi-signature wallets in the future is higher because of the level of security they provide as compared to the standard single-signature wallets. Whereas, a little modification is required in the way these multi-signatures are managed and transported to the different users. Sharing these private keys means that the token bridges are utilized. The security of these token bridges is also very important as they also get compromised. For instance, on 23 June 2022, the horizon bridge was exploited which resulted in the compromise of nearly $100 million in crypto assets. This occurred because the attacker was able to discover two of the signing keys. Hence, there is a need for third-party custodians that serve as a trusted intermediate for bridges.
For this, zero-knowledge proof can be utilized as it is a powerful cryptographic approach. It helps one party to prove to another party that they knew a certain set of information without oversharing or providing data beyond that. This is also referred to as crypto magic helps in verifying whether or not the specific information is legit or not.
We saw how the multi-signature wallets provide an extra layer of security to private keys but saying that it is the safest type of all won’t be correct. It claims that it is fail-proof and the most secure type of wallet. In case a thief gets successful in compromising one of the private keys of the wallet, still, they would require the remaining minimum number of keys to access the funds in the wallet. However, multi-signature wallets still have drawbacks. They require expert knowledge to build the setup and provide a less user-friendly experience for an average user.
Moving forward, we can summarize the standard crypto wallets (single-signature) where a recovery phrase is required to recover the wallet if the private key gets compromised or lost. To solve this issue, multi-signature wallets were developed. However, it also has its own downfalls. And not to forget, here, the private keys are still under the custody of some third party, which means not completely secured. Now, how can the user get complete ownership of their fund? Further, we will be seeing how non-custody solutions help in rectifying these issues. Stay connected!
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Last modified on August 19th, 2023 at 12:30 pm