The safety and protection of one’s cryptocurrency assets have come to the forefront of discussions within the crypto community and beyond. The offline functionality of cryptocurrency cold wallets makes them the best option for those looking to hold their assets for the long haul with maximum security.
Cryptocurrency held entirely offline is considered to be in cold storage. There are two methods of cold storage: paper wallets of yesteryear or futureproof hardware wallets such as familiar names like Ledger and Trezor and new entrants like NGRAVE ZERO.
Types of cryptocurrency cold wallets
Cryptocurrency holders aspiring to take complete self-custody of their funds, keeping them away from the nefarious threats of the internet, have two options:
A paper wallet is a printed piece of paper that contains the public and private keys of a user’s assets that resides on the blockchain. These keys are frequently shown as QR codes and corresponding alphanumeric characters. Using online wallet generator tools like bitAddress, users can print out the keys and the paper.
Since a piece of paper with its offline anonymity cannot be hacked, albeit if someone has access to the paper, this method of storing digital assets has been relied upon by many. That said, paper wallets are no longer the gold standard cold storage option with the advent of hardware wallets. Moreover, hardware wallets have highlighted the drawback of using this traditional storage route. Apart from paper being fragile making it easily susceptible to damage.
It is also important to consider the security of the devices used to generate them, i.e., a clean computer and a printer that does not store file data after printing.Binance Academy
While many now believe the risks associated with keeping keys in a paper-based format outweigh the positives, it remains an option.
A hardware wallet is a physical device that keeps a user’s private keys offline and never leaves the device. Users can manage and spend their cryptocurrency using these wallets by plugging them into computers or mobile devices. However, all transactions and validations must take place on the device itself. Most hardware wallets also require a pin to enter the device, adding another layer of protection. The majority of hardware wallets have built-in applications that users can use to execute transactions and manage their portfolios.
If the device is lost or damaged, the best hardware wallets available today have the crucial feature of backing up the wallet on a new device and restoring funds using recovery seed phrases. However, even though hardware wallets are frequently regarded as the most secure way to store private keys. There are still risks and safety measures that users must be aware of. The risks include the loss of a pin code and the loss of the seed or recovery phrase.
Top cryptocurrency hardware wallets
1. Ledger Nano S Plus
The Nano S Plus is the third and latest iteration of hardware devices from renowned manufacturers from France, Ledger. Since its establishment in 2014, the crypto community has long hailed Ledger as a pioneering company. Ledger advances the vision of developing secure solutions for blockchain applications. The new Nano S Plus addresses the two main qualms of their two previous hardware wallets:
- The lack of storage on the original Nano S allowed holders only to hold a maximum of 3 to 5 crypto assets.
- The bigger brother, Nano X, is too costly and some hardware wallet enthusiasts do not want Bluetooth support.
In terms of hardware, the Nano S Plus is roughly the size and weight of a USB stick. It measures 62.39 x 17.40 x 8.24mm and weighs 21 grams. The display is a 128×64 pixel display, an upgrade from the original Nano S. A USB Type-C connection to link the device to a computer and built with a Secured Element (SE) CC EAL5-certified safety chip.
Therefore, with the ability to store up to 100 different crypto assets, the ability to manage NFTs, the intuitive Ledger Live desktop and mobile applications, and coming in at a budget-friendly option at 79$. This makes the Nano S Plus the perfect midpoint between the two other wallets offered by Ledger.
2. Trezor Model T
The Trezor Model T is the flagship hardware device created by leading hardware manufacturer SatoshiLabs, from the Czech Republic, founded in 2013. The team at SatoshiLabs introduced the original Trezor One, the first crypto hardware wallet, in 2014. The team then unveiled the significantly improved Model T in 2018. Once again establishing the industry standard for hardware wallet security.
Unlike its predecessor or the devices offered by Ledger, The Trezor Model T has a large LCD 240×240 pixel display. This makes it easier for novice hardware wallet users to interact with the device. Furthermore, Trezor’s open-source nature is one of its strongest advantages over some of its competitors. With the wielded USB Type-C connector, Trezor can be used online on a desktop or mobile device with the Trezor web wallet or on a desktop with the Trezor suite app.
While more expensive than the Nano S Plus at 219$, the device has many features. Ranging from over 1650 coins supported, nifty integrations with popular software wallets like Exodus, advanced security features such as universal 2nd-factor authentication (U2F), and a novel way to mitigate the risk of a recovery seed phrase being lost or stolen through the Shamir Backup.
3. NGRAVE ZERO
Founded in Belgium in 2018, NGRAVE is a newcomer to the crypto hardware wallet space. It is quickly making a name for itself as a reliable self-custody choice. Its flagship product — “NGRAVE ZERO” — is the only blockchain and financial industry product in the world with the highest security certification: EAL7. As a result, this next-generation hardware wallet has already gained much attention from investors such as Woodstock Fund, Morning Star Ventures, DFG Group, and, more recently, Binance Labs.
As @cz_binance said, self-custody is fundamental human right.
This is why we’re making a strategic investment in and will be leading the upcoming Series A round of @ngrave_official, a hardware wallet and the 1st complete solution for self-custody.https://t.co/ySJcHGpoIm
— Binance Labs Fund (@BinanceLabs) November 21, 2022
By far the most expensive hardware wallet on this list. The NGRAVE ZERO costs $418, which may be excessive for some. However, what sets NGRAVE ZERO apart from its competitors is its completely “air-gapped”. This means it never interacts with the internet, Bluetooth, mobile networks, or any network connections. The device purely relies on QR code technology through its camera and corresponding mobile phone app called LIQUID to send and receive transactions. In addition, the gadget has a USB C port for charging the 1200 mAH battery that powers the device and for updating firmware.
The device has a 4-inch 480 x 800 resolution screen, making it more akin to a smartphone than their competitor’s hardware wallets. The device supports Ethereum-based NFT storage, with plans to expand to other networks. Regarding the number and variety of coins supported, however, the NGRAVE ZERO falls behind the likes of Trezor and Ledger. Currently, there are only 13 different blockchains supported, though the ERC20 token support is robust, with over 1500 Ethereum-based tokens supported.
Amid the fear of losing access to funds held on centralized platforms, cryptocurrency hardware wallets have hit record sales in recent months. While the community has witnessed several setbacks recently, the options for cold storage are on the rise, and the emphasis on self-custody is a step in the right direction.