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Using Air Gapping Techniques

Updated: Mar 15

Splitcoin introduces an innovative solution for those seeking an extra layer of security through air gapping. Although your vault key is encrypted and stored on your Splitcoins by default, there are air gapping techniques that you can implement if desired. This method involves using a secondary smartphone, dedicated solely to the Splitcoin application, and permanently set to airplane mode, thus ensuring it never connects to the internet again.

It is important to note that storing encrypted keys on NFC tags and using a permanently offline phone are practices that align with some principles of air-gapping but does not fully embody the traditional, strict definition of air gapping. Air gapping refers to the complete physical isolation of a computer or device from all external networks, including the internet, local networks, and wireless connections. The primary goal is to protect against unauthorized access, cyberattacks, and data leakage.

Note: Keep in mind that Splitcoin remains secure if you do not implement air gapping techniques into your experience. You never share you seed phrase with the Splitcoin app and your vault key is encrypted before being transmitted over NFC. This technique is simply for the ultra-paranoid who prefer to never interact with an online device, regardless of whether you share your seed phrase with it or not.

What is Air Gapping?

Air gapping is a security measure that involves isolating a device from the internet and any other networks. By doing so, the device becomes immune to online threats, including malware and hackers. This technique is particularly useful for securing sensitive information or critical systems that are vulnerable to cyber attacks.

How Does Splitcoin Utilize Air Gapping?

Splitcoin leverages the concept of air gapping to offer users a malware-resistant environment (a smartphone in airplane mode) for creating and opening their vault. While not air-gapping in the strictest sense, Splitcoin uses air gapping techniques to secure data.

The Splitcoin app does not need internet connection after Step 2 of the following process:

  1. Initial Setup: To begin, users download the Splitcoin app from their smartphone’s respective app store. At this stage, an internet connection is necessary.

  2. Authentication: While the device is still online, users must authenticate their Splitcoin NFC tags using the app’s Authenticate Coins tool. This crucial step ensures each Splitcoin tag is genuine by verifying its unique ID, which is securely embedded by the manufacturer, NXP.

  3. Transition to Airplane Mode: After the authentication process and before any sensitive data is created, the device should be switched to airplane mode. This action transforms the smartphone into an offline device, eliminating any risk of online threats.

Why Consider Using A Secondary Offline Device?

  • Enhanced Security: By isolating the device from any network, users eliminate risk of cyber attacks.

  • Peace of Mind: Knowing that you are interacting with your Splitcoins in a completely offline environment provides an added level of assurance.

  • Simplicity: The process is designed to be straightforward, allowing even non-technical users to easily implement this robust security measure.

Choosing the Right Device

For those considering this method, an old smartphone or a cheap secondary phone such as a Samsung S8, can serve as an ideal choice. It’s an economical option for creating a dedicated environment for interacting with your Splitcoins.

Going Primal

The second air gapping technique you can implement is simply doing away with all technology - no smartphones, no apps, no NFC tags. The Splitcoin app can export your codebook as a PDF, which can be printed out. Printing the codebook can bring sovereignty to your storage strategy, eliminating any need for technology. You can decrypt your encrypted seed phrase with your printed codebook, and will never need to use the Splitcoin app again. We cover this option further in our blog post on implementing The Caveman storage strategy.

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