Why hardware wallets?
When you store your crypto assets in a wallet on an exchange you are entrusting your digital assets to an unregulated third party. "Not your keys, not your Bitcoin" is a defining narrative amongst the crypto community.
Hardware wallets provide the gold standard when it comes to storing your crypto assets. Read our article on 5 things to know about crypto hardware wallets to understand more about what a hardware wallet is and their key features.
Legitimate hardware wallets store funds offline on a secure encrypted hardware storage with numerous security measures in place. Hardware wallets comprise of several primary security features, including a Micro Controller Chip (MCU), operating system, and anti-tampering authentication check.
What sets Ledger apart?
Most micro controller chips used by other hardware wallet providers are generic ones that are used in common appliances like microwaves and TV remotes. These are not tamper resistant. Only Secure Element (SE) chips provide that higher level of security.
SE chips are used where critical and secure data storage is required such as in passports and credit cards. These are tamper resistant to multiple attack vectors and can securely host applications along with their cryptographic data.
Checking for the security certification of SE chips by security auditors is a valuable assurance that these chips meet the strict standards to repel backdoor attacks. Certification of hardware wallets involve passing numerous assessment categories including firewall, identification and embedded software.
The Ledger Nano S and Ledger Nano X are the only wallets, at the time of writing this, that have received CSPN certification by France's ANSSI Cybersecurity agency.
The other critical security aspect is the operating system. Other hardware wallet providers may have operating systems that are not tailored for protecting crypto assets. These get further compromised with the introduction of intuitive interfaces and Bluetooth.
Ledger uses the highly customised BOLOS hardware operating system on hardware wallets - this is the only customised operating system in the market (at the time of writing). This also allows third party applications to be used in conjunction in a secure manner.
Finally, Root of Trust verification in the operating system check whether the Ledger device and software is genuine. This is done every time a Ledger Nano S or Nano X is turned on - an important validation process. Device integrity is checked against a referencing validation from the provider.