Top 3 Bitcoin Hardware Wallets
A POWERFUL AND FLEXIBLE DEVICE
The Ledger Blue is the latest generation product from Ledger, result of more than two years of research and development. This high-end device embeds a large touchscreen to securely manage transactions and complex smart contracts. Its slick yet robust casing encloses the best-in-class technology built upon the Blockchain Open Ledger (BOLOS) platform, a powerful and flexible operating system.
PACKED WITH HARDWARE FEATURES
The Ledger Blue is based on a dual-chip architecture embedding a ST31 Secure Element and a STM32 microcontroller thus achieving a fully isolated environment. It features a LED-backlit color touchscreen to navigate easily and validate transactions. It is powered by a lipo rechargeable battery and communicates with USB or Bluetooth* devices.
DESIGNED FOR MULTIPLE SECURE APPS
Thanks to its modular architecture, the Ledger Blue runs multiple dedicated companion apps in full isolation on top of its firmware. The strong security model allows to add new cryptocurrencies or apps without risk of compromising the master seed. Transaction integrity is ensured by the WYSIWYS paradigm (What You See Is What You Sign). The flexibility of the device enables enterprise level usage: with all major crypto libraries embedded in the firmware, any type of blockchain can be supported.
Battery-powered, Bluetooth* and USB enabled, the Ledger Blue can operate with any computer and smartphone.
- Battery 500mA LiPo
- BLE 4.1, USB 2.0 Full Speed, NFC (requires firmware update)
- Windows, Mac OS, Linux and Chrome OS
The Blue is built upon an advanced operating system that supports easy installation of applications, accessible via a quick-launch dashboard.
- Install & remove apps with Ledger Manager
- Free firmware upgrades
- Enterprise app licensing & support
Ledger Blue uses WYSIWYS (What You See is What You Sign) to mitigate threats.
- Malwares, viruses
- Man in the middle attacks
- Proof of presence
The Blue embeds a color display and a large capacitive touchscreen with anti scratch glass, encased in a strong cover.
- 3.5 inch display
- Full color, 320×480 pixels
Your confidential data is never exposed: it is strongly secured and isolated inside a Secure Element, locked by a PIN code.
- Secure Element: EAL6+ / ST31
- BOLOS isolation technology
- 4 to 8 digit PIN code
BACKUP & RESTORATION
The configuration of your device is backed up on a recovery sheet. Easy restoration on any Ledger device or compatible wallets.
- Built-in onboarding and configuration
- BIP39 and BIP44 standards
- 12, 18 or 24 words recovery
LATEST GENERATION HARDWARE
When you own cryptocurrencies, you need to protect your confidential data and the access to your funds. With Ledger Nano S, secrets like private keys are never exposed: sensitive operations are isolated inside your hardware wallet within a state-of-the-art Secure Element, locked by a PIN code. Transactions can’t get tampered with, they are physically verified on the embedded screen with a simple press on a button.
PAY AND AUTHENTICATE
Ledger Nano S includes Bitcoin, Litecoin, Ethereum and Ethereum Classic companion apps, and other blockchain-based cryptocurrencies. You can send and receive payments, check your accounts and manage multiple addresses for each currency from the same device. Nano S also supports the FIDO® Universal Second Factor standard that simplifies the authentication process on compatible online services such as GMail, Dashlane, Dropbox or GitHub.
Ledger Nano S supports Bitcoin, Litecoin, Ethereum and altcoins: hold different assets in the same hardware wallet.
Check and confirm transactions on the display and confirm with using the physical buttons (anti-malware second factor).
Your confidential data is never exposed: it is secured inside a strongly isolated environment locked by a PIN code.
Use companion apps such as cryptocurrencies wallets, and also FIDO® U2F, GPG, SSH or build your own applications.
FIDO® CERTIFIED U2F
Ledger Nano S supports the FIDO® Universal Second Factor authentication standard on Google, Dropbox, GitHub or Dashlane.
BACKUP & RESTORATION
Your accounts are backed up on a recovery sheet. Easy restoration on any Ledger device or compatible wallets (BIP39/BIP44).
Ledger Nano S is based on a dual chip architecture (ST31/STM32, Certification level: CC EAL5+). The firmware integrity is guaranteed by cryptographic attestation.
Initialization or restoration of your configuration is fully done on the secure environment of the Ledger Nano S. Your cryptographic secrets are never exposed to the outside world.
Ledger Nano S ensures only you can access your accounts by requiring a 4 digit PIN code each time it is plugged to your computer.
Your private keys are never held or known by Ledger or a third party: they are hard locked in the Secure Element. With Ledger Nano S, your wallet remains decentralized, you are your own bank.
No matter whether you’re new to Bitcoin or already a security expert. TREZOR is the Bitcoin wallet choice #1 for everybody. Leave behind the viruses and keyloggers. Forget about doing regular backups, reading encryption manuals, printing paper wallets and making offline storages. Next time you see another 10+ steps guide to secure your bitcoins, just skip reading it. Bitcoin is secure by design. All you need is a tool to use it without risk. All you need is your own TREZOR wallet.
TRUST YOUR OWN EYES
Check important transaction details before you confirm. The display will always tell you the truth.
TRUST YOUR OWN HANDS
Everything important needs your direct physical approval.
SMALL AND STURDY
Fits into your palm. Tamper-proof, water-resistant and extremely durable.
TREZOR uses and creates the most advanced standards in the cryptography and bitcoin.
What is Cold Storage Bitcoin?
In the world of cryptocurrencies, “cold storage” bitcoin refers to bitcoin (or altcoins) stored offline. Because cryptocurrencies are digital, this really means storing the private keys offline, where they are safe from hackers.
While the usage of virtual currency is rising in popularity, so too are cases of fraud and hacking.
Unlike with traditional currencies, there is no designated regulatory organization overseeing virtual currency, or any means of legal recourse if your bitcoins or altcoins are stolen. Therefore, the responsibility to protect your investment falls solely on the investor.
Thankfully, there is a way to store your bitcoins and altcoins securely: Cold storage bitcoin.
Cold storage bitcoin is widely considered the safest way to store cryptocurrencies because by keeping your investment off of the internet, you can place your currency out of reach from hackers.
There are several cold storage options for bitcoin and altcoins, such as:
- Bitcoin Hardware Wallet
- USB Drive
- Paper Wallet
- Physical Bitcoin
Each of these methods has pros and cons. For example, a paper wallet is not only susceptible to wandering eyes, but if it is hand written, human error or illegible script can be an issue. Those choosing to use physical bitcoin have to put their trust in the manufacturer’s operational security as well as their delivery method.
The responsibility of managing your cryptocurrencies is not to be taken lightly. Owners of bitcoin or altcoins must act as their own bankers, which means they have to make choices to balance ease of access with security. Understanding the available storage options is the best place to start. A cold storage wallet, or “hardware wallet” is a great option, proving both security and easy access to your bitcoin.
What is a Hardware Wallet?
A hardware wallet is a cold storage wallet that securely stores the owner’s private keys in a hardware device.
Unlike software wallets, a bitcoin hardware wallet is not susceptible to computer viruses. Unlike the paper version of a cold storage wallet, the private keys in a bitcoin hardware wallet do not need to be imported to software for access. You can use the cryptocurrency interactively and securely from the device. Additionally, the wallet protects your private keys, making it impossible for them to be transferred in plaintext.
However, there are a few theoretical ways in which a bitcoin hardware wallet could be compromised. As your own banker, it is important to understand every angle of cold storage.
For example, a corrupt production or shipping process could potentially allow for the insertion of a hardware backdoor. As with any computing device, a bug in the hardware, firmware or software could pose a threat. If you are sending cryptocurrencies through your computer, a bitcoin hardware wallet cannot protect you from malware on your computer that is designed to tamper with recipient bitcoin addresses.
At this point, the above mentioned threats are merely theoretical. As of the writing of this article, there have been no documented thefts from Hardware Wallets. For many reasons, bitcoin hardware wallets are generally thought to be the safest method of cold storage bitcoin.
Best Cold Storage Bitcoin Hardware Wallets
We live in a world of ever-changing technology and infinite possibilities, and there are always potential ways computing hardware can be compromised.
So, it is important to use trustworthy equipment developed by technically proficient experts. You want to use the best to protect your investment. In this section, we are going to focus on three of the top of the line bitcoin hardware wallets on the market: The Ledger Nano S, Ledger Blue, and Trezor cold storage wallets.
While they each have unique features, all three of these bitcoin hardware wallets feature PIN code verification and are set up with a recovery seed to back-up your cryptocurrencies. All three are compatible with Windows, Mac OS, Linux, or Chrome OS and require the use of Google Chrome or Chromium browsers. Here is a breakdown of each of these cold storage wallets:
Ledger Nano S
The Ledger Nano S is the most affordable of these three bitcoin hardware wallets, with a price point of €58. The Nano S looks like a thumb drive with a sliding cover and measures 98mm x 18mm x 9mm when fully open (60mm x 18mm x 9mm when closed). It weighs just 16.2g and is made of stainless steel and plastic.
The sleek design of the Ledger Nano S does not compromise its efficiency. Physical verification of all transactions is easily confirmed with a button on the side of the device, ensuring your transactions are protected.
The Ledger Nano S is capable of storing multiple cryptocurrencies and is compatible with companion apps like U2F, GPG, SSH, FIDO® and more. It is built on dual chip architecture (ST31/STM32, Certification level: CC EAL5+) and through cryptographic attestation the firmware of the Ledger Nano S is guaranteed.
The Ledger Blue costs €229 and is Ledger Wallet’s premium cold storage wallet. It is the largest of the three wallets we’re covering (97mm x 68mm x 10mm) but still a very lightweight (90.0g) handheld device.
What makes the Ledger Blue stand out is its large LED backlit color touchscreen (320 x 480 pixels). The Blue also features Bluetooth connectivity in addition to connecting via USB, it is battery-powered, and it can operate with any computer or smartphone.
The Ledger Blue cold storage wallet was built upon the Blockchain Open Ledger (BOLOS) platform. It is protected with a 4 to 8 digit PIN Code and 12, 18 or 24-word recovery seed. Like the Ledger Nano S, the Ledger Blue stores your account information and cryptocurrencies completely offline using a dual chip (ST31G480 (secure) + STM32L476, Certification level: CC EAL6+) architecture.
The Trezor costs €89 and measures 60mm x 30mm x 6mm. It comes in black or white and weighs 12g, making it the lightest of the three wallets in this comparison.
The Trezor, like the Ledger Nano S and Ledger Blue, uses Universal Second Factor Authentication to verify transactions. The Trezor features two physical buttons located on the front of the device, which you use for U2F.
One of the things that make the Trezor stand out is the process for entering your PIN Code. Rather than showing you a standard 1-9 numeric block to enter your code, the Trezor randomizes the order of the numbers that appear. This ensures that even if someone is looking over your shoulder to memorize the pattern of your password, they will be unable to hack into your account.
Though the Trezor is compact, it is mighty. This cold storage wallet features a 128 x 64 pixel OLED screen that can hold six lines of text, which means it has the ability to display all the necessary information to confirm a transaction all at once.
Last Thoughts on Cold Storage Bitcoin
With the growing popularity of cryptocurrencies comes the growing risk of hacking or theft. The responsibility to protect your investment falls on you, the bitcoin investor, rather than a bank or regulatory agency. Thus, protecting your bitcoins or altcoins is an important part of using cryptocurrencies.
While there are several options for storing your cryptocurrencies, a cold storage wallet is widely considered the most effective. Cold storage bitcoin balances security with ease of use, allowing you to safely store your funds and protect them while still being able to access them when needed.
Three of the best hardware wallets on the market are the Ledger Nano S, Ledger Blue and Trezor. They each offer something unique, from the portability of the Nano S to the easy to use touchscreen Ledger Blue, to the Trezor’s unique method of pin code security. You can’t go wrong with any of these wallets, and many who use cryptocurrencies divide their funds across more than one of these cold storage wallets for an added level of security.