Best Hardware Wallets

 

There are a total of 9 brands of hardware wallets available in the market today. The best hardware wallets are: Ledger Nano S, Trezor, and KeepKey.

The Ledger Nano S, is the most popular in the market and has sold more than 1.3 million units since 2015. What makes this wallet the most popular is its ease of use and the security it offers to the user.

Ledger produces two model of hardware wallets. The most popular is the Ledger Nano S and the second model is the Ledger Blue.

Ledger Nano S Technical Specifications

Ledger Nano S showing welcome screen

What’s in the Box

1 Ledger Nano S hardware wallet, 1 USB cable, 1 Recovery Sheet Backup Card, Keyring

Dimension & weight

Size: 98mm x 18mm x 9mm.

Weight: 16.2g.

Materials

Brushed stainless steel and plastic.

Connection

USB Type Micro-B.

Microcontrollers

Chips: ST31H320 (secure) + STM32F042

Certification level: CC EAL5+.

Supported Operating Systems

Windows (7+), Mac (10.8+), Linux.

Ledger Blue Technical Specifications

Ledger Blue

What’s in the Box

1 Ledger Blue hardware wallet, 1 USB cable, 1 Recovery Sheet Backup Card.

Dimension & weight

97mm x 68mm x 10mm.

Weight: 90g.

Materials

Zamak metal Alloy (frame) and Plastic (case). Contains Neodymium magnets.

Connection

USB Type Micro-B.

Microcontrollers

Chips: ST31G480 (secure) + STM32L476

Certification level: CC EAL5+.

Supported Operating Systems

Windows (7+), Mac (10.8+), Linux.

Ledger Nano S Security Features

The wallet is built around the secured chip from ST-Microelectronics ST31H320 which is the same type of chip used to store biometric data on passports and secured IDs also widely used for securing banking applications.

These secured chips are tamper resistant because each one has a unique encrypted key which checks its integrity each time the device is turned on. The chip cannot be counterfeited thanks to encrypted key.

This hardware wallet also supports FIDO Universal Second Factor authentication for enhanced security for logging in.

The access to the device is protected by a PIN that can be 4 or 8 characters long. This PIN is used to encrypt the data stored in the device. If the PIN is entered wrong 3 times, the device wipes all the information stored in it and the only way to recover wallet is by using the 24-word recovery seed.

This security characteristic makes it extremely difficult and costly to hack. Added to these security features Ledger has developed a proprietary operating system that runs in the unit providing a user experience that simplifies the process to send and receive funds.

The user interacts with the device using two switches and all the information and process can be seen in the built-in screen.

The information handled in the hardware wallet is encrypted using the most secured encryption algorithms that can be up to 4096 bits long.

What Would Happen if the Ledger Nano S is Lost or Stolen?

In case the device is lost or stolen don’t worry because the private keys stored in the device are safe and can be recovered by using the 24-word recovery phrases obtained when the device it’s initialized for the first time. After three failed attempts the device will wipe out all the information stored in it and the thief won’t be able to have access to them.

These 24 words contain all the information needed to have complete access to the device. Therefore, it’s very important to keep the recovery phrases safe. To learn How to Keep Your Recovery Phrases Safe click to read the article.

Even though this is the best hardware wallet it has had some issues with early firmware versions that by manually installing scrips the sending address could be changed thus sending the funds to a different address than the desired one.

That is why it’s very important to keep your hardware wallet with the latest firmware updates and always double check the address that appears on the device’s screen before accepting a transaction.

Ledger has updated the firmware since the vulnerability was found in early 2018.

With the introduction off the Ledger Live app many more security features have been included providing the user with an easier interface and upgraded security.

An example of this is the enforced security checklist the user has go through when setting up the device for the first time to make sure that the hardware wallet is genuine and not tampered with.

Follow this Step by Step Tutorial to Setup a Ledger Nano S with Ledger Live. This tutorial offers lots of easy to follow screenshots.

Supported Cryptocurrencies in the Ledger Nano S.

Ledger Nano S and Ledger Blue natively support 22 currencies as of October 2018. A total of 712 coins and tokens are supported with the use of MyEtherWallet.

The following coins have the wallet apps that can be installed in the device:

Bitcoin (BTC)

Bitcoin Cash (BCH)

Bitcoin Gold (BTG)

Ethereum (ETH)

Ethereum Classic (ETC)

Litecoin (LTC)

Dogecoin (DOGE)

Zcash (ZEC)

XRP (XRP)

Dash (DASH)

Stratis (STRAT)

Komodo (KMD)

Vertcoin (VTC)

Viacoin (VIA)

Tealth (XST)

Hcash (HSR)

Digibyte (DGB)

Qtum (QTUM)

Peeercoin (PPC)

PivX (PIVX)

PosW (POSW)

ZenCash (ZEN)

Ledger Nano S can simultaneously run between 5 to 18 applications, being able to manage as much as 25 cryptocurrencies and hundreds of ERC20 Tokens with the use of the MyEtherWallet.

Ledger Live – Companion App.

Ledger Live is the companion app that you can install on your computer to manage your crypto assets. The supported platforms are: Windows, Mac, and Linux.

This app can be used to manage your Ledger Nano S, by installing or removing wallets, updating firmware versions and checking security features.

Ledger Live is also a portfolio manager that keeps track of the price variations of your cryptocurrency assets. You can see graphs of historical price data of your installed wallets.

The balance of each one of your wallets can be checked without having the Ledger Nano S connected to the computer. To do this it uses your public keys and checks the balance in the blockchain.

To send funds Ledger Live offers simple intuitive step-by-step process so that no mistakes are made while performing transactions.

Ledger Nano S Price

The price of the Ledger Nano varies. In the official website the price ranges between $80-$114 because sometimes Ledger offers special promotions on the product. Click the following link to check the latest price on the Official Ledger Site.

Another place where you can buy a Genuine Ledger product is in Ledger’s Amazon Official Site. Here prices could range from $79.99 -$119. You can check the latest price here.

 


Trezor Hardware Wallet

Trezor hardware wallet was first introduced as a Kickstarter campaign in June 2013, this was a revolutionary idea specially during the time when many Bitcoins were stolen due to hacking of exchanges and desktop wallets.

A small team in the Czech Republic designed a simple but effective way to store your Bitcoin’s private keys in a small handheld device.

The first Trezor hardware wallet was the Trezor Model One a BIP39 based wallet that uses two switches to interact with the user.

Trezor One Technical Specifications

Trezor One color black with welcome screen

What’s in the Box

1 Trezor One hardware wallet, 1 USB cable, 2 Recovery Sheet Backup Cards.

Dimensions & Weight

Size: 60mm x 30mm x 6mm (2.4in x 1.2in x 0.2in) Weight: 12 g (0.42 oz)

Connectivity

Micro USB connector

Micro Controller

120 MHz embedded ARM processor (Cortex M3) running a custom developed system.

Screen

Bright OLED – 128×64 pixels.

Supported Operating Systems

Windows, Mac and Linux

Trezor model T Technical Specifications

Trezor Model T was introduced in February 2018 it uses a touchscreen to interact with the user. The specifications are:

Trezor model T with enter pin screen

Processor

ARM Cortex-M4 processor @ 168 Mhz

Display

240 x 240 px, RGB LCD touchscreen display

Dimensions

64mm x 39mm x 10mm

Connection

USB-C

External Storage

Encrypted MicroSD

Supported Operating Systems

Windows, Mac and Linux

Trezor Security Features

When the Trezor is connected to the computer, the bootloader verifies that the firmware is genuine by checking that the installed version is signed by Satoshi Labs.

According to Satoshi Labs, it is possible to install unofficial firmware in the device, but as soon as a new firmware is installed, all the information installed is wiped out leaving no trace of the information previously stored.

In case there are discrepancies in the firmware code meaning without the encrypted signature from Satoshi Labs, Trezor warns you each time the device is turned on.

Your private and public keys are encrypted in your device via your PIN. If you enter your PIN wrong the device makes you wait for a few seconds before it allows you to try again with a different password.

Each time a wrong password is entered the wait time increases by a factor of 2. After 15 wrong password entries the device wipes itself. This is based on information obtained in Satoshi Labs website.

As an extra layer of security after entering the pin locally on the device using the switches or the touchscreen on model T, Trezor allows the user to enter a passphrase each time the device is going to be used in case the PIN is compromised there still is another layer of security.

Trezor uses a 24-word recovery seed to backup and recover the entire wallet. This recovery seed can be used in case of loss, destruction or theft to recover the wallet.

To do this another Trezor hardware wallet or any compatible BIP39 based wallet would be needed to enter the 24-word recovery seed in the exact same order as obtained when the device was started for the first time.

Therefore, it’s very important to keep the recovery seed safe because anyone that holds the recovery seed holds access to the wallet. To learn How to Keep Your Recovery Phrases Safe click to read the article.

Satoshi Labs the maker of Trezor uses a process called Ultrasonic hardware seal which is the way they weld the hardware wallet case so that if tampered with the owner would immediately know because once open it is very difficult to seal it back.

Each time the device updates its firmware the bootloader wipes out the memory and as the new firmware installs it checks to make sure that the encrypted signature is valid, if it’s valid then the memory is restored.

The original bootloader is write protected meaning that no one can edit the original signed bootloader and pass it as original because it would lose the digital encrypted signature and give you and error.

Supported Cryptocurrencies in Trezor

Trezor natively supports 11 coins but with the use of MyEtherWallet it can support a total of 690 ERC20 tokens and coins as of October 2018.

The natively supported coins are:

Bitcoin (BTC)

Bitcoin Cash (BCH)

Bitcoin Gold (BTG)

Ethereum (ETH)

Litecoin (LTC)

Dash (DASH)

Zcash (ZEC)

Dogecoin (DOGE)

Vertcoin (VTC)

Namecoin (NMC)

ERC20 Tokens

Ethereum(ETH) is supported through MyEtherWallet.

A total of 680 ERC20 tokens are supported by Trezor with the use of MyEtherWallet.

Trezor Price

The price of Trezor One varies. In the official website the price ranges between EUR69 – EUR90 or $79 – $102 because sometimes Trezor offers special promotions on the product. Click the following link to check the latest price on the Official Trezor Site.

Another place where you can buy a Genuine Trezor product is in Trezor’s Amazon Official Site. Here prices for Trezor One could range from $79.99 -$90. You can check the latest price here.

The price of Trezor model T hardware wallet in the official website is EUR149 or $170. You can check the latest price here. On Trezor’s Amazon Official Site the price for model T is $160.  You can check the latest price here.

 


KeepKey Hardware Wallet

KeepKey hardware wallet was introduced to the market in September 2015. This wallet is compatible with BIP39 and BIP44. It allows user to keep private keys safe.

It has had a good track record on being a safe device to keep cryptocurrencies. This is one of the popular brands that are available in the market as of today.

KeepKey Technical Specifications

KeepKey showing transaction on screen

What’s in the Box

1 KeepKey hardware wallet, 1 USB cable, 1 Woven Nylon USB Cable, 1 Recovery Sheet Backup Card. Recovery Sheets.

Dimensions:

38.0mm x 93.5mm x 12.2mm

Material:

Anodized Aluminum Case

Polycarbonate Front

Connection:

USB HID, Micro-USB connector

Micro Controller:

ARM® Cortex™-M3

TRNG (Hardware-Based Random Number Generator)

Screen Type:

256×64 3.12″ OLED

Compatible Operating Systems:

Windows, Mac, and Linux.

KeepKey Security Features

KeepKey is designed and built around the STM32F205RGT6 microcontroller unit or MCU from STMicroelectronics. This chip can be used for different purposes but one of them is to use it as a true random number generator. It also features standard and advanced communication interfaces that uses minimal communication protocol to communicate with the computer.

This chip has been tested against requirements found in FIPS 140-2 for cryptographic modules. Just as other hardware wallets KeepKey is designed so that private keys are generated inside the unit and never leave the MCU memory.

As an extra layer of security, when setting up the device the user can set a passphrase so that in case the read protection feature of the MCU is bypassed the private keys remain encrypted.

Periodically KeepKey’s firmware is updated and is digitally signed so that the original or official firmware cannot be counterfeited.

Being the case that KeepKey’s firmware is 100% open source, meaning that anybody can check the code to make sure that is honest and doing what is supposed to, it can also be altered so that user can create more applications that run on the device.

This means that as soon as the original firmware is overwritten it loses the digital signature thus the device warns you each time is started just to make sure the user knows that the code is not the official code.

KeepKey uses a method called entropy to generate private keys this means that the system relies on the chips true random generator feature to generate unique private keys each time.

This hardware wallet also generates recovery phrases in case the device is destroyed, lost or stolen to recover all the wallet. KeepKey uses 12-word recovery seed instead of 24 like the Ledger Nano S and Trezor.

Many users don’t like the fact that KeepKey uses only 12 instead of 24-word recovery seed because 24 is more secure, but there are ways to tweak the code so that it generates 24-word recovery seeds, but that can be done by people who know how to code.

The 12-word recovery seed it’s all that’s to have complete access to the device. Therefore, it’s very important to keep the recovery phrases safe. To learn How to Keep Your Recovery Phrases Safe click to read the article.

As mentioned before, as extra security you can add multiple passphrases so encrypt your private keys even if someone can get a hold of your 12-word recovery seed they wouldn’t have access to your keys. But this doesn’t diminish the importance of keeping the recovery seeds safe.

Supported Cryptocurrencies in Keepkey

KeepKey natively supports 45 cryptocurrencies. Here is the list of the supported cryptocurrencies:

Bitcoin  (BTC)

Bitcoin Cash (BCH)

Bitcoin Gold (BCG)

Dash (DASH)

Doge (DOGE)

Ethereum (ETH)

Litecoin (LTC)

0x (ZRX)

Aragon (ANT)

Augur (REP)

Basic Attention Token (BAT)

Bancor (BNT)

Binance (BNB)

Civic (CVC)

Decentraland (MANA)

DigixDAO (DGD)

District0x (DNT)

Edgeless (EDG)

FirstBlood (1ST)

FunFair (FUN)

Gnosis (GNO)

Golem (GNT)

ICONOMI (ICN)

iExec (RLC)

Matchpool (GUP)

Melon (MLN)

Metal (MTL)

Numeraire (NMR)

OmiseGo (OMG)

Polymath (POLY)

Ripio Credit Network (RCN)

SALT (SALT)

SingularDTV (SNGLS)

Status (SNT)

Storj (STORJ)

SwarmCity (SWT)

TenX (PAY)

Tether (USDT)

WeTrust (TRST)

Wings (WINGS)

Zilliqa (ZIL)

Added to this list there are many ERC20 tokens that can be managed from your KeepKey with the use of MyEtherWallet.

To manage the wallet of these coins KeepKey uses a Chrome app that can be downloaded from the Chrome Web Store.

Another feature that KeepKey offers is the easiness to change from one cryptocurrencies to another with the use of ShapeShift.

Let’s say you want to change Bitcoin (BTC) into Litecoin (LTC). To do so you would have to have a Bitcoin wallet and a Litecoin wallet in your device. Then KeepKey uses ShapeShift cryptocurrency exchange to perform the transaction and sends the Litecoin to your wallet. This is done without signing into your Shapeshift account.

KeepKey Price

On the official KeepKey website the price ranges between $90 and $129 the price can fluctuate depending on the promotion available. Click the following link to check the latest price on the Official KeepKey Site.

KeepKey hardware wallet can also be purchased from KeepKey’s official Amazon store for $88.98. You can check the latest price here.

In this post I have presented the best hardware wallets available in the market to keep your digital assets safe. All of them are good products well designed and recommended to anyone planning to hold a significant amount of cryptocurrencies, invest in a hardware wallet that way you can be assured that your keys are safe.

 

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