Hardware wallets are leading among the crypto-storage by the combination of security and convenience, which provoked a marked increase in interest of them. Manufacturers quickly responded, and new devices appeared on the market. It created the problem of choice for users. What is a hardware wallet for cryptocurrency? What is important to know and how to choose the best hardware wallet? We will describe in this article!
What is a hardware wallet for cryptocurrency?
A hardware cryptocurrency wallet is an electronic device designed for the needs of cryptocurrency owners. These needs are mainly in the mentioned safety and convenience “so that no one steals” and “so that you can easily pay off” – that are what interests users most.
Hardware wallets are something between a flash drive and a small smartphone – with a direction in one or another side. It is needed connect to a computer via USB to complete transactions, but sometimes they can independently access the Internet via Ethernet, Wi Fi and so on.
From a security point of view, they are comparable to a separate laptop on which only the wallet program and security software are installed – from firewall and anti-virus to encrypting “traces” of programs.
The software (the program wallet and applications that provide access to the wallet and its protection) can be installed by the manufacturer, but more often the developer suggests downloading it from his website and installing it himself.
The latest versions correct the shortcomings of the past, eliminate potential vulnerabilities, add support for new cryptocurrencies, and so on. The software generates keys and some access codes, so it should be taken carefully – at least not to download from anywhere.
Sometimes additional keys are added, for example, the “factory” key supplied with the device. The fact that there are several levels of protection is important, and experts can check how random the generated keys are.
A weighty argument in favor of a device is the number of cryptocurrencies supported. Developers try to take this into account and add coins that are in demand. And unpopular currencies are unlikely to be stored in a hardware wallet, they simply will not be supported.
How to choose a hardware wallet and avoid scammers?
On the one hand, what is even easier any search engine will give to the corresponding request a lot of sites where the device can be ordered. On the other hand, there are scammers who often resolve the issue of stealing money before the wallet falls into the hands of a future victim.
Some, for example, produce fake wallets. A well-known firm or, say, its “branch” may be indicated on the site. The site can be developed supposedly under the “new model” of a well-known company, which in reality did not produce anything like this.
In fact, these will be unnamed wallets without any protection and with software that will transfer the private key and / or seed phrase to the fraudster as soon as the victim puts a certain amount on the wallet.
Others do not hide behind famous brands, but release something of their own under a new name. Such hardware wallets are usually cheaper than others. Work in the same way.
Some fraudsters buy wallets of well-known companies and reflash them, introducing malware into a reliable wallet, and then selling them under the guise of an electronics distributor. And some intercept wallets in general at the delivery stage and also reflash.
Hardware Wallets Overview: Best Choices
There are several varieties of wallets in the official market today. The most popular are devices from Trezor, Ledger and Keep Key. Among the less popular are Digital Box, Bitlox, Pi Wallet and others.
Among the supported currencies, in addition to the leading ones, are Stratis, Komodo, Dogecoin, NEO, Dash Qtum, Ubiq, Posw, Sealthcoin, Viacoin, Vertcoin, Expense, PIVX, ARK.
Popular Ledger Nano S, which is small, and Ledger Blue due to its convenience – it is not a flash drive with a pair of buttons, but a device with a screen, like a full-fledged small smartphone.
But troubles also arise. The last one was a critical vulnerability in the algorithm responsible for addresses. If the computer is infected with the corresponding virus, when you connect the wallet, the addresses are secretly replaced, as a result of which the money will go to the scammers account.
Although you can protect against this, if you use the function of checking addresses, as the developers say. Also, users complain about the quality of the devices at Ledger Nano sticking buttons, and Ledger Blue is very fragile.
On the other hand, Trezor operates on the basis of Windows, Android, Linux, which makes it more vulnerable than Ledger, since it is easier to write malicious software for these systems.
Over time, the wallet began to support, in addition to the main currencies, Dogecoin, Namecoin, Testnet and Dash. From positive introductions – the ability to work with the popular exchange exchanger ShapeShift.
There are simpler options, where the main device, as in Extreme Privacy, is made of titanium, but the software is equipped with a not so powerful cryptographic protection. However, the manufacturers claim that such protection is more than enough for an ordinary person, since the average hacker cannot crack it.
There are almost no negative reviews about Bitlox. But, perhaps, some will be scared away by a price that exceeds the average $ 60–90 for other wallets and can reach $ 160,200 using all proposed levels of protection.
The question, however, is where to get a good build, usually ultra-protected operating systems do not lie on the road. Installing a normal OS makes Pi Wallet no more reliable than others. The advantage is that it can go online without a computer.
But if the latter is trying to develop independently and introduces at least something own, then Bwallet differs only in design. Plus, Bwallet shipping for everyone except the Chinese can cost a pretty penny, unlike Trezor delivery.
Otherwise, this is the most common hardware wallet for cryptocurrency, no special security, even in comparison with Ledger, no mentioning the Digital Box and Bitlox, or any essential amenities.
How to choose a hardware wallet for safekeeping cryptocurrency
Hardware wallets for cryptocurrencies are similar and differ in particulars. They have to be guided, because now there is no obvious leader, superior to others.
Some wallets benefit by convenience, the second by anonymity, and the third by functionality. Therefore, it is better to decide which of these is the most important, and choose the appropriate firm and model.
It also always makes sense to track the news published by the company manufacturer. Periodically, there are bugs in wallets, tips are given on how to eliminate them, and so on. This is another reason to buy hardware wallets for cryptocurrency from manufacturers who do not abandon their models to their fate.