For the average crypto enthusiast that keeps a low-to-moderate amount of cryptocurrencies in their wallet, a software wallet that they can access from their mobile phone is secure enough to store their portfolio of digital currencies. Software wallets usually store the private keys necessary to access your cryptos on your mobile device or computer. This method is quite secure because if a cyber attack on the software wallet company were to happen, your funds wouldn’t get compromised. However, if someone manages to hack your mobile device or computer, they might be able to get a hold of your private keys.
In case you’re a large-scale investor, who deals with high volumes of cryptocurrencies, or you’re simply a hodler who wants to keep a lot of digital assets stored in their wallet, you might be an interesting target for potential cyber attackers. They could track your device and hack it to steal your private keys.
This is why hardware wallets were developed as a fully safe crypto storage method for high volumes of cryptocurrency. The Ledger Nano S is one of the most popular hardware wallets on the market and it provides some of the best security in the industry for serious crypto holders.
Let’s take a detailed look at Ledger Nano S, its key features, its security measures, and how many different cryptocurrencies it can hold.
Why Use a Hardware Wallet for Bitcoin and Other Cryptocurrencies?
Before we dive into the specifics of the Ledger Nano S, let’s go over the advantages of hardware wallets over software wallets. You don’t really need a hardware wallet if you aren’t planning on keeping large amounts of digital currency, because software wallets are pretty safe. It’s the fact that you’re keeping a lot of cryptos in your wallet that might impact the safety of your software wallet if you’re a known crypto investor or broker that deals with a lot of assets. In that case, a cyber attacker might target your mobile device or computer on purpose, to find out whether you’re keeping any passwords or crypto wallet private keys on your device.
Hardware Wallets Are Safer
This is precisely why you should use a hardware wallet such as the Ledger Nano S if you want to store a lot of coins and tokens because hardware wallets, unlike hot wallets, aren’t connected to the internet. That’s why they are also referred to as cold wallets because they aren’t connected to the internet. This is a huge advantage compared to hot wallets because no cyber attacker can actually hack your wallet or mobile device and steal your crypto keys, since there’s no internet connection.
Hardware wallets come in the form of specialized USB devices with top-of-the-line encryption technology to make sure that even if you lose your wallet, no one can access it. These devices are developed by companies like Ledger, who deal with safe storage solutions for cryptocurrencies and their developers are constantly looking for ways to improve the security measures of their devices.
When you have a hardware wallet, you can rest assured that no matter how many cryptos you have stored, they are perfectly safe. The only risk in using a hardware wallet is if someone happens to get a hold of your device login credentials and then access your cryptos. So basically, you just need to keep your passwords, PIN codes, and passphrases in a secure location out of anyone else’s reach. There is one other risk, though, and it’s losing your hardware wallet or passwords – so make sure you keep both of them safe.
Ledger Nano S
The Ledger Nano S is the primary hardware wallet device of the Ledger company. It’s cheaper than the newer Ledger Nano X, but it still carries some of the best functionalities on the market and this is why it’s consistently ranked in all the hardware wallet toplists ever since its launch.
Let’s take an in-depth look at the Ledger Nano S and why it is so popular among crypto investors.
Key Ledger Nano S Features
These are the main Ledger Nano S selling points that make it a great choice for storing high volumes of crypto:
- Private keys are always stored offline, securely, on the device.
- Features multiple security layers including passwords, a PIN code, and a passphrase.
- Offers great value-for-money at $59.
- Supports more than 1,100 crypto coins and tokens.
- Easy-to-use thanks to the Ledger Live app for computers and mobile devices.
- Great customer support and regular firmware updates.
Who Is the Ledger Nano S Meant For?
The Ledger Nano S can be used by all crypto enthusiasts and traders, but its primary target group are individuals that want to store high volumes of digital currency safely. Additionally, this wallet takes security very seriously and you can set up multiple access protocols like PIN codes and passwords, so it isn’t like a software wallet app that can be accessed with a single click through your mobile phone. You need to connect the Ledger device to your computer using the USB slot and then manage the device through the Ledger Live app.
This process can take a couple of minutes and you can’t just instantly send your coins to a crypto exchange platform and trade them, because you need to first access your wallet and then make a transaction through a specialized app for each type of cryptocurrency. For instance, if you want to store or transfer NEO coins to and from your Ledger Nano S, you need to install a specific app on the device, through Ledger Live. Once you have the app installed, things will go smoothly, but if you just bought some coins on an exchange and don’t have the appropriate app installed on your Ledger Nano S yet, you’ll need to first find the adequate app and install it.
This means that the Ledger Nano S isn’t made for quick daily trading operations. Instead, it’s like a crypto vault made for storing assets that you won’t be using very often. This is why many users connect their Ledger Nano S with a Ledger-compatible software wallet like MetaMask, MyEtherWallet, or Electrum wallet, so that they can gain quick access to their cryptos to make trades and exchanges.
Ledger Company Background
Ledger, the company behind the Ledger Nano S, was established in 2014 as a company whose focus was on creating apps and devices with secure blockchain-based functionalities. Ledger Nano S was launched just two years later, in 2016, and it quickly became one of the favorite hardware wallets for users worldwide. The company has sold more than 3 million hardware wallets in 165 countries around the world since 2016.
What really makes Ledger stand out from the competition is their community feedback implementation policy. The company is very open to user feedback and the firmware of their wallets is constantly updated and upgraded.
Most recently, Ledger secured 380 million USD worth of assets from investors such as 10T Holdings, Draper Esprit and Cathay Innovation, which effectively raised the market value of the company to 1.5 billion US dollars.
Ledger Nano S Technical Characteristics
The wallet comes in the form of an elegant USB device weighing just 16.2g. It’s the size of a casual USB device, but it also has a very handy screen that is used in combination with the two device buttons to cancel or approve transaction signing. The screen isn’t a touchscreen, but this isn’t a setback since the two buttons and the small screen are more than enough to carry out transfer confirmations.
You’ll get a USB cable with the device in order to connect it to your computer and then you can manage it through the Ledger Live application. There’s no need for any batteries or power sources, since the only time you need to power the device is when you connect it to your computer, which is done automatically once you connect it with a USB cable.
We already mentioned that being offline is what makes your private keys safe on a hardware wallet like Ledger, but once you connect the device to your computer and use the Ledger Live app for crypto management, you technically connect the wallet to the web. There’s no reason to fear for your cryptos during this process, because the Ledger encryption technology and security measures ensure that your internet connection is actually separated from the Ledger Nano S device. This means that the private keys in your wallet remain offline even when you connect the wallet to your computer and send cryptos to or from the wallet.
Ledger Nano S Security
Industry-leading security features are the reason users give their trust to the Ledger Nano S. Let’s check them out.
The Ledger Nano S has an EAL5 (Evaluation Assurance Level) security certificate and it’s certified by the French cybersecurity agency ANSSI. The Ledger Nano X hardware wallet is also fully certified by official cyber security authorities.
The wallet uses a ST31H320 chip with the EAL5+ rating, which is the highest possible security rating in the industry. The microchip used in the device is equipped with highly advanced countermeasures for most advanced cyber attacks. No third-party can tamper with the chip because of the Ledger firmware encryption. This feature is also what mainly keeps your private keys safe.
BIP39 Recovery Seed Backup
BIP39 is a security standard used to enable the backup of your private keys in case your wallet gets lost, stolen, or damaged. This method enables users to convert their private key into a 24-word seed phrase, which makes it possible to recover all the coins and tokens that were in the wallet in case the device gets stolen or damaged. When you buy a Ledger Nano S wallet, you’ll get several pieces of paper that are specifically made for users to keep their 24-word recovery phrases.
PIN Code Device Protection
A great thing about the Ledger Nano S is that it also includes an on-device PIN code which you’ll be able to set up the first time you use your wallet. The PIN code can contain 4 to 8 digits. Once you set up the PIN code, store the code in a secure place. In case you lose your wallet or damage it, this PIN code won’t be required to restore your wallet, because you can finish the restoration process using your seed words.
The passphrase feature allows users to add a 25th word to their seed phrase, without which the recovery of their wallet isn’t possible. This feature is implemented in order to prevent anyone from stealing your funds in case they get hold of your 24 word seed phrase, because without the 25th word, it’s practically useless.
Support for Multi-Signature Logins
This feature is made specially for large scale investors that set up multi-signature crypto wallets, which require several signatures from different wallets in order to unlock a crypto stash. The Ledger Nano S is suitable for multi-signature logins that require several wallet accounts to access the stored assets.
Device Authentication Through Root of Trust
Since Ledger Nano S devices can’t be accessed by any third party through cyber attacks, as there’s no internet connection to the device, attackers might try to manipulate the Ledger firmware before users get their device shipped to them.
In order for users to be able to confirm the authenticity of their Ledger device and be sure that no one has tampered with their hardware wallet, Ledger has implemented their Root of Trust software. This software enables users to check if their device is an original Ledger hardware wallet and whether it was tampered with in any way.
The Ledger Nano S supports a tremendous amount of crypto coins and tokens. You can store more than 1,100 types of crypto assets in your Ledger Nano S wallet. However, you can’t store all of these crypto types at the same time. In order to store a certain crypto on the Ledger Nano S, you need to install the appropriate app through the Ledger Live manager interface and only then can you store that particular crypto. The official Ledger website says you can install 3 apps, which means three types of coins (or cryptocurrencies) at a time, and this is basically the only limitation of the Ledger Nano S. The newer and more expensive Ledger Nano X can store up to 100 crypto apps, that is, 100 different cryptocurrencies.
The selection of available cryptos on the Ledger Nano S includes all of the most popular cryptocurrencies along with a bunch of less popular coins, including all ERC20 tokens.
Supported cryptos include: Bitcoin (BTC), Ethereum (ETH), Ripple (XRP), Cardano (ADA), Binance Coin (BNB), Litecoin (LTC), Bitcoin Cash (BCH), Dash (DASH), Dogecoin (DOGE), Ethereum Classic (ETC), NEO (NEO), Zcash (ZEC), Monero (XMR), Iota (IOTA), Tron (TRX) and many other altcoins.
Price of the Device
One of the reasons the Ledger Nano S is so popular is because it’s rather affordable, especially considering the fantastic security and storage features it offers. A Ledger Nano S device costs just 59 USD, which is quite a good deal for every serious crypto investor who wants to keep their digital currencies stored safely, out of the reach of cyber attackers.
Ledger Live is the management app for the Ledger Nano S device. You need to download it and install it on your computer or mobile device. It’s compatible with Windows, Mac OS, and Linux if you’re installing it on a desktop or laptop computer, while the mobile version is compatible with both iOS and Android operating systems.
Once you install Ledger Live and connect it with your Ledger Nano S device, you need to install the appropriate app for the cryptocurrency you wish to store on your Ledger device. This process is quite easy – you just have to search for the appropriate app in the Ledger Live app catalog by entering the name of the crypto you want to store. Installing the app takes only a minute and you can start storing your coins and tokens on the device right away.
Ledger Nano S vs. Ledger Nano X
The Ledger Nano S is the first hardware wallet produced by Ledger. Since then, the Ledger Nano X has been launched as a slightly modernized version of the first model. The Nano X looks the same as the Nano S, but it has two main advantages over its predecessor. First, you can install up to 100 crypto apps on the Ledger Nano X, which is a massive increase compared to the 3 app capacity of the Nano S model.
Second, you don’t need to always use your USB cable with the Ledger Nano X, because it comes with integrated Bluetooth connectivity, which enables a seamless connection with your mobile device or computer. Some crypto enthusiasts, however, argue that this is a feature that makes the Ledger Nano X less secure than the Nano S, because the Bluetooth connection might be a vulnerability hackers can exploit.
The price of the Ledger Nano X is 119 USD, making it far more expensive than the Nano S model.
Ledger Nano S vs. Trezor One
Another industry leading hardware wallet that provides similar features to the Ledger Nano S is the Trezor One wallet. Its price is 59 USD, the same as the Ledger Nano S, but it comes with a larger screen that might be a bit more comfortable for use. It also supports more than 1,000 coins and you can store all of your coins on the device at the same time because you don’t need to install any apps. The firmware has a monolithic approach, meaning that you don’t need to install any specific apps for each crypto.
This might be a huge advantage for some users if they compare it to the Ledger Nano S, but keep in mind that the Ledger Nano S has the best security measures in the industry, so it’s really a choice between the best security and the ability to store all your coins on the device at once.
A Few Final Words…
The Ledger Nano S brings users some of the best safety features among hardware wallets on the market. The multiple layers of security, ease of use, and affordable price make it a great choice for crypto investors that want to make sure their assets have the best protection possible.