Can Exodus staff monitor my account or control my transactions?
Exodus is wholeheartedly supportive of every individual's right to privacy, and full control of their funds. We've incorporated these principles into our technical design choices for the Exodus wallet.
Unlike your bank account, or stock portfolio, Exodus (the company) doesn't actually hold any of your assets on your behalf. You control your assets through a set of private keys initially generated from when you first opened your Exodus wallet.
The private keys are different from the 12-word backup phrase, but the main thing to understand is that private keys are the most important thing in controlling your assets. The Exodus wallet is a piece of software that runs locally, on your computer, without interacting with Exodus' servers. It generates and holds your private keys offline, as detailed here:
When broadcasting and receiving transaction information, Exodus connects to a network of Insight Servers.
An insight server is a computer server that handles the communication of transactions and keeps track of updates to the ledgers of one or more crypto-currencies. These insight servers are operated by many different companies and groups, none of which include Exodus. Your transaction history is backed up to Exodus, but in encrypted format, so we can't know how much money you hold in your wallet.
The result is a very secure, redundant wallet that could function perfectly fine even if Exodus as a company was to disappear. The trade-off is that Exodus staff can't trace where transactions were sent without information you provide, nor step in to reset your password if you forget it.
Since we also do not control your funds, it is very important to always keep your private keys secure by never giving them to an untrustworthy site or third party. We will never ask for your private keys, and no legitimate ICO or airdrop will ask for them either.
Software/hardware wallets act like cash or gold. Only you control them, so only you hold the responsibility keep your funds secure. Even if the wallet provider (Exodus in this case) dissolves or is hacked, your funds will be safely held within your wallet. If your computer is hacked, however, you may be at risk.
We are also different from big exchanges like Coinbase or Bittrex, because they are in full control of your private keys. They act like traditional bank accounts, where your funds are held by the account provider. The benefit is that you could lose every password or email account you have, but there is always a chance to get access to your account back. On the flip side, if the account provider turns out to be untrustworthy, your funds could be as good as gone. Some exchanges delay for months in getting their customers' funds back to them. Some never return them at all.
The strength of crypto-currencies lies in allowing people to have a choice in how much responsibility they bear in their financial lives, and we only offer the tools of ownership. If you have any further questions, feel free to reach out to us. We'd love to hear from you.