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Hardware wallets ensure the security and control of digital assets. They became more popular after a 2022 fiasco that involved the collapse of major crypto exchanges like  FTX, Celsius, BlockFi, and Robinhood. Which denied millions of customers from accessing their funds.

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An Introduction to Hardware Wallets:

A hardware wallet is a physical, offline storage device for your cryptocurrency holdings. 

Hardware wallets usually resemble small USB-like devices that can be connected to your computer or smartphone when needed. To access your wallet for transactions or balance checks, you insert the device and input your PIN code.

Hardware wallets prioritise security and incorporate multiple layers of encryption and defences against hacking and malware. They are also built to withstand physical damage and offer straightforward backup and recovery options in case of loss or theft.

Why you should consider hard wallets 

The growing popularity of digital assets also brings unique challenges and risks. Cryptocurrencies are stored in digital wallets, and these wallets can be vulnerable to various security threats, including hacking, phishing, and malware attacks. The best way for users to secure their digital assets from these attacks is hardware wallets as they are not connected to the internet. 

This isolation from online networks greatly reduces the risk of remote hacking attempts. Not only that, it puts you in full control of your digital assets. It’s more like having a physical purse to store your digital assets.

How do Hardware wallets work?

When you first set up your hardware wallet, it will generate a unique set of private keys for you. These keys will be stored on the hardware wallet itself, and they will be protected by a PIN code or passphrase.

When you want to send or receive cryptocurrency, you will need to connect your hardware wallet to your computer using a USB cable. This will allow you to access your private keys and sign transactions. 

However, your private keys are never actually exposed to the computer. Instead, the hardware wallet will sign the transaction offline and then return the signed transaction to the computer.

Hardware wallets also typically have several additional security features, such as PIN code or passphrase protection To access your private keys, you will need to enter a PIN code or passphrase. A Recovery phrase, Secure element chip. 

The Criteria for Selecting the Best Hardware Wallets in 2023

Here are the key features to consider when selecting a hardware wallet

Security Features:

When assessing hardware wallets, the paramount consideration is the level of security they provide. Threats wallets may face have advanced, so look for wallets that offer robust security features such as advanced encryption, secure boot processes, and secure chip architecture. 

Also, pick wallets’ multi-signature support, which requires multiple approvals for transactions, can add an extra layer of protection. 

Additionally, consider whether the wallet has undergone independent security audits or been endorsed by reputable figures in the crypto industry. These features will help shield your assets from the evolving tactics of cybercriminals.

Compatibility:

The compatibility of a hardware wallet is crucial, especially if you hold various digital assets. Ensure that the wallet supports the specific cryptocurrencies and NFTs you intend to store. Check for compatibility with popular cryptocurrency software wallets and platforms to facilitate ease of use.

User-Friendliness 

Usability is another essential factor, selecting a user-friendly hardware wallet can make a significant difference in your overall experience. Look for wallets that are easy to use and have clear instructions. Consider the setup process, as a complex and cumbersome setup can be a deterrent. In 2023, user-friendliness is critical because more people are entering the crypto space. A wallet that simplifies the management of digital assets and transactions can be a valuable asset.

Cost:

Cost is a factor that cannot be overlooked. Hardware wallets come in a range of price points, and while it’s tempting to opt for the least expensive option, remember that security is paramount. Consider the value the wallet offers in terms of security features, ease of use, and compatibility. Investing in a slightly more expensive, high-quality wallet can be a wise decision to protect assets that could potentially be worth much more.

Adaptability

selecting the best hardware wallet in 2023 goes beyond merely storing your cryptocurrency. It’s about adapting to the changing crypto landscape to better protect your assets from emerging threats, and ensuring that your wallet aligns with your specific needs and preferences. 

In-depth review of the top five hardware wallets

The top five wallets are:

  • Trezor Model T
  • Ledger Nano X
  • NGRAVE ZERO
  • Keepkey
  • ELLIpal Titan

TREZOR MODEL X

Trezor, which means ‘vault’ in Czech, takes the top position among crypto wallets.T rezor was the first crypto wallet created back in 2013 and has undergone security audits by independent researchers and has a proven track record of keeping user funds safe.

This highly secure hardware wallet is priced at $280 and is compatible with more than 1,000 cryptocurrencies. So far, there have been no reported cases of successful remote hacks, making Trezor widely recognized as the most secure crypto wallet available.

Trezor can also be integrated with web 3.0 wallets such as Metamask and has also formed a unique partnership and integration with the massively popular software wallet Exodus, combining the convenient features and the user interface of the Exodus software wallet with the security of the Trezor hardware wallet. 

LEDGER NANO X

Taking the silver medal on our podium is Ledger’s Nano X. Hailing from the heart of France, Ledger is the undisputed heavyweight champion of the hardware wallet world, alongside its rival, Trezor. Now, let’s shine a spotlight on Ledger’s top-tier offering, the Nano X, which comes with a slightly higher price tag compared to the Nano S.

It is crucial to address some recent Ledger controversies that might sway your decision:

In the early months of 2023, Ledger made a big splash by unveiling Ledger Recover, a service designed to rescue your secret keys if they ever take an unexpected vacation. While this might seem like a lifesaver, the announcement rocked the industry and sent shockwaves of anger rippling through it. It led many users to part ways with their Ledger devices, frantically searching for alternatives.

The #1 golden rule for crypto self-custody is NEVER sharing your private keys and ALWAYS keeping them offline. Ledger went against this, sparking fears of hackers obtaining private keys, or giving authorities the power to demand user’s private keys

The ledger nano X is compatible with over 1800 Cryptocurrencies and comes equipped with industry-leading security, including a CC EAL5+ Certified secure element chip. The ledger device can connect with a desktop computer through a USB cable, as well as a desktop or mobile via a Bluetooth connection. Ledger can run on Windows, Mac, Linux, IOS and Android.

NGRAVE ZERO

This is by far the most secure hardware wallet out there. It has so far gained the attention of crypto users and investors such as Woodstock Fund, Morning Star Ventures, DFG Group and more.

What makes this wallet most secure is that it is 100% air-gapped (it’s isolated from any online shenanigans) It has passed the most security tests and is also the world’s only crypto wallet to achieve the prestigious EAL7 security certification, leaving Ledger’s EAL5 in the dust. Plus, it’s got the ROHS and CE certifications, just like its buddy Trezor. NGRAVE also has a light sensor, biometric scanners, and pin protection, and is tamper-proof.

NGRAVE also boasts of an impressive user experience. Most people would think that a wallet with such a complex security model may just not be easy to use, but NGRAVE combines its highly secure features with a completely stunning user experience. 

The NGRAVE team have worked in close collaboration with a world-leading institution in nanotechnology, the Interuniversity Microelectronics Centre (IMEC), along with a research group for applied cryptography, The Computer Security and Industrial Cryptography (COSIC) to ensure high-security standards, but it was their work with Jean-Jacques Quisquater that turned heads.

Cost; $398

KEEPKEY

Most affordable of the top five within a price range of $50-$100. The wallet has a generously sized display, ensuring a user-friendly to facilitate transaction verification and address confirmation, reducing the likelihood of costly errors.

So far on our list, it is the only hardware wallet that integrates a Dapp Store which offers access to thousands of decentralised finance products directly from the wallet 

Keepkey bears the CE and RoHS certifications, in compliance with European Union standards for environmental and safety regulations.

KeepKey’s security was once compromised when rivals Ledger found a way to extract PIN codes from the wallet, although this required having physical possession of it. The glitch was later fixed in an update. 

The major limitation of KeepKey is in the limited number of coins it supports about the other wallets on this list. This is a red flag for anyone with a dynamic portfolio. It natively supports Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, Bitcoin Gold, Dash, Dogecoin, Ethereum, Kyber Network, Litecoin and DigiByte and can only support ERC-20 tokens when paired with MyEtherWallet.

The Keepkey wallet also lacks integration to manyWebb 3 wallets such as Metamask leaving users unable to interact with many DeFi apps.

ELLipal TITAN

Securing the final spot on our list is the ELLIPAL Titan, an air gap crypto wallet. Unlike its online counterparts, the Titan operates in complete network isolation, offering true offline cold storage. Priced at $169, it may seem heftier than the entry-level Trezor One and Ledger Nano S, but the investment might be justifiable for certain crypto enthusiasts.

What sets the ELLIPAL Titan apart is its impressive coin support, boasting the most extensive range on this list. Additionally, it’s sealed to shield against dust and water, and it comes equipped with an anti-tamper feature. If someone attempts to physically breach the device, all private keys are wiped clean as a security precaution.

To access the Titan, users need a passcode. It’s crucial to set a robust one and store the device securely, just like you would with any hardware wallet. This extra layer of security ensures your crypto holdings remain safe and sound.

Impressively, ELLipal supports 46 different blockchains and 10,000+ crypto assets with new coins added each month, and even allows users to stake assets, earn interest and even buy or exchange crypto through the apps that can be installed on the wallet. ELLIPAL hardware wallet can be used in conjunction with the ELLIPAL mobile app which is available on both IOS and Android. 

Here are some additional tips for using hardware wallets safely:

  • Never share your recovery phrase with anyone.
  • Store your recovery phrase in a safe place, such as a fireproof safe or a deposit box.
  • Keep your hardware wallet firmware up to date.
  • Only purchase hardware wallets from reputable retailers.

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