ETH addresses from public address

Knowing only the first ETH public address generated by a Model T, is it possible to determine the following ETH public addresses that would be generated?

I would assume the answer to this would be: No, it is not possible to determine following ETH public addresses as:

  1. the private key is used to derive each consecutive individual ETH address and
  2. public keys are derived from their associated private key, so it would always be impossible to determine the following public keys without knowing the private key.

Is this assumption correct?

Bonus Q: Anyone have a link to the section of trezor-firmware code that performs the address derivation to save me digging? Thanks! :pray:

It’s somewhat more complicated than that.

By only knowing the Ethereum address, you cannot get at the public key, because the public key goes through a SHA3 hash to get to the address.

However, you can recover the public key by observing a valid eth transaction to that address. To verify the signature, the public key must be revealed.
So unless the address was never used, you essentially always have the matching public key.

Now. The list of addresses is generated via BIP-32. All addresses start with a private secret derived from your seed, and then you descend down a tree consisting of hardened and unhardened steps.

The default derivation path for Ethereum is m/44'/60'/0'/0/x, where x goes from 0 to 1 million. The steps denoted with ' are hardened and we don’t care about those, because you always need a private key to do that step.

But the last two steps are unhardened, meaning that if you somehow got a hold of the (extended) public key at m/44'/60'/0', you can compute the remaining /0/x yourself and get a public key of any address this way.

And it turns out that the public key at m/44'/60'/0' is commonly called an “xpub” and people work with it regularly. In particular, MetaMask will ask Trezor for your xpub and only then show the list of your addresses. AFAIK the xpub is not stored, but technically it can be.

This was designed with Bitcoin in mind, where an account consists of many addresses and you need a convenient way to collect all of them. Ethereum stupidly adopted the same structure, despite it making very little sense, but then six years of development happened and now we’re pretty much stuck with it.


In conclusion: if you just have an address, then you can’t calculate the other addresses. If you have an xpub, you can calculate all the addresses below that xpub.

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that’s a lot of individual sections, but a lot of what you need is in this one file: trezor-firmware/bip32.c at master · trezor/trezor-firmware · GitHub

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Hi @mindtree,

Please don’t post your question in the title and not in your post. If we move your post to an existing thread with other posts with the same or similar subject, then your question will be lost.

I moved your question into your post and edited the subject.

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