If you’re a regular here at thewahman.com, you may recall that my most recent blog post took us on a journey into the world of cryptocurrency, where we examined in detail the issue of storage and the essential functionality of a cryptocurrency wallet in enabling you to store your currency and carry out physical transactions.
Today, as we continue our exploration into crypto storage, we’ll be conducting a deep dive investigation into a specific type of storage – cold storage.
As part of our investigation, we’ll be putting two of this year’s industry leading cold storage products into a head to head battle as we review the Ledger Nano S and the Trezor One hardware wallets in a cold storage showdown.
Let the battle commence…
Crypto Security – A Necessary Evil?
Before we jump into battle, I’d like to take a moment to offer a few words of warning.
Since the first official crypto transaction was made on 22 May 2010, the phenomenon that is cryptocurrency has grown from strength to strength. In fact, at the time of writing, Bitcoin (BTC) currently tops the cryptocurrency market at a value of $11,707.64.
Needless to say, cryptocurrency is an extremely valuable and a highly sought-after commodity. And when it comes to matters of all things finance, the unsavoury characters of this world will go to any lengths necessary to make sure they get their share of the wealth.
Now, I know you might think I’m being over cautious here, but stop for a second to take in this fact:
In 2019 alone, the amount of cryptocurrency stolen from exchanges across the globe was worth a mouth-watering total of $292,665,886. And to add insult to injury, more than 510,000 user logins were also stolen in the process.
The threat, when it comes to the world of cryptocurrency, is very real. If you approach this world with an attitude of nonchalance, chances are you will be punished sooner or later.
Hardware Wallets – the Cold Hard Facts
When it comes to taking the necessary precautions to protect your crypto assets, grabbing yourself a hardware wallet should arguably be your number one priority. Why? Because to date, there hasn’t been a single verifiable instance of cryptocurrency being stolen from a hardware wallet.
That’s great news for us crypto traders – but what exactly is a hardware wallet? Let’s take a closer look:
Classification: Cold Storage
Device Type: Offline electronic device
Primary Function: Safe storage of private identification keys
Key Security Features:
- Requires 2 factor authentification to access funds
- Not susceptible to hacking
- Can be safely used on any device – even those with vulnerable internet connections
- PIN enabled backup security feature means you can still access your currency and private information even if the hardware wallet is lost or stolen
- Use of open source software means the owner is able to validate the full device operation.
As well as offering a whole host of secure storage options, some of the most reliable cold storage wallets on today’s market also have the added advantage of being extremely cost effective. In fact, in many cases, it’ll cost you considerably less than $100 dollars to give yourself the peace of mind that your crypto assets and all of your private information and safe and secure.
When it comes to deciding which hardware wallet to buy, it’s highly recommended that you purchase a device with a built-in OLED screen because this feature alone means you’ll reap the benefits of a significantly larger number of additional security options.
While there are a number of examples I could list, I think the most notable of them all is the fact that the presence of an OLED screen means you confirm and verify all of your transactions on the device screen – meaning that you won’t have to enter your private identification keys on to a potentially unsecure computer. And that in itself is a pretty big deal. Why? Because it means your crypto assets are automatically protected against hacking attacks, for example.
A Nod to other Worthy Competitors
Ok, so we’ve explored the reasons why you need to safely store your cryptocurrency and we’ve established that when it comes to robust and resilient storage options, the hardware wallet really is the frontrunner of them all thus far in 2020.
Given the nature of the beast that is cryptocurrency, there’s obviously a lot of competition out there amongst tech companies, all of whom are in the race to provide the best storage assets on the global market. And there are, of course, a number of companies who are worthy of note for the cold storage products they’ve rolled out on to the market:
- KeepKey: Available for under $20, the KeepKey hardware wallet provides safe and secure storage for your cryptocurrency. With a robust built-in backup and recovery system and multi-currency support functionality, the KeepKey wallet is definitely one to consider.
- BitLox Ultimate: Boasting a titanium case and coming complete with a number of additional supporting accessories, the Bitlox Ultimate is not only capable of storing up to 100 different wallets but it’s also accessible via the Tor network. This cold storage option brings with it a somewhat higher price tag of $149 but there’s no doubt that it offers significantly advanced secure storage for your crypto assets.
- CoolWallet S Wireless Bitcoin Wallet: Coming in at just under $100, the CoolWallet S combines cold storage functionality while offering the convenience of hot storage transaction functionality. Boasting a US military grade secure element chip, encrypted Bluetooth connection and built-in multi factor verification, the CoolWallet S is very much a strong competitor on today’s market. As an aside, it also comes fully integrated with BitPay functionality, all for a very reasonable $99.
The Head to Head – Ledger Nano S Vs Trezor One
So without further ado, it’s time for the head to head showdown as we compare the the market leading Ledger Nano S and Trezor One hardware wallets.
Ledger Nano S
- Compact USB-size design
- Manage your hardware wallet and all related activity via the Ledger Live companion app
- Built-in OLED display and anti-malware second factor verification allows you to check and confirm all transactions on the built-in display and confirm by using the device’s physical buttons
- Includes a built in isolated secure chip and 8-digit PIN locking feature to secure all of our confidential data
- Supports more than 30 cryptocurrencies as well as all ERC20 tokens
- Able to integrate with multiple cryptocurrency software wallets
- Built around Secure Element and BOLOS platforms
- Invulnerable to hacking attacks
- Invulnerable to malware attacks
- Open source embedded Bitcoin app
- 4 digit PIN security locking feature
- Built-in seed generation and recovery
- Easy backup and restoration system that allows your assets to be recovered on any Ledger device or compatible wallet.
- No password manager
- Compact design with an OLED screen large enough to see all relevant private information in a single screen
- Protects against hacking attacks, viruses and keyloggers to name but a few
- The device screen allows users to visually verify and manually confirm all transactions, meaning the private keys to your crypto assets never leave the device
- Uses randomly generated PIN numbers
- The unique user interface means the device can be used as both a cold storage wallet as well as a hot wallet when you need instant access to your currency, passwords and private keys
- Limited USB connection means any PC device can be accessed safely
- No need to enter a username or password credentials to access the device
- Additional capability enables decoy passphrases’ to be created which take potential attackers to low sums of currency while maintaining safe storage of all other currency on the device
- Built-in back-up system restores all device content in the event of loss or theft
- Compatible with Windows, macOS and Linux
- Comes fully equipped with a USB cable making it ready to plug in and play immediately
- Trezor One offers a 100% money back guarantee if you’re not fully satisfied with your purchase.
- Doesn’t support Ripple (XRP) cryptocurrency.
There’s no such thing as a sure thing
Although there’s a great deal to shout about with both the Ledger Nano S and the Trezor One, they aren’t 100% fail safe. Here are a few potential risks and threats to consider:
- Vulnerable to Malware attacks that swap a recipients Bitcoin addresses
- Potential to be embedded with an insecure random number generator
- Susceptible to sub-standard implementation which could result in bugs featuring at the software, firmware or hardware level
- Potential to be compromised during the production process
- Potential to be compromised during the shipping process.
It’s Decision Time
And so, the time has come. You’re in possession of all the facts. You know the strengths. You know the vulnerabilities. You know the price tags. You’ve weighed up the pros and cons in a side by side comparison. There’s just one final question left to ask.
Will it be the Ledger Nano S or will it be the Trezor One?
It’s decision time…
But for those of you who find yourselves stuck in a quandary right now, unsure of which product to buy, allow me to offer a few words of wisdom.
There really is no wrong answer here, so you can’t actually get this one wrong. You see, the truth of the matter is that whichever product you opt for, you can be safe in the knowledge that you’ve bagged yourself a great little product for an absolute steal from one of the current market leaders in cold storage devices.
Yes, each of the products has a slight advantage over the other in terms of its features and specifications. And no, neither product can protect your crypto assets against every possible threat and eventuality that exists. But then again, there isn’t a product out there that can offer that 100% fail safe guarantee.
But what both products can guarantee is this: when used correctly and responsibly, they will without question increase the safety and security of your crypto assets exponentially against a whole host of online and physical threats.