Ledger Nano hardware wallet is a small, cheap and compact wallet that will safely store your Bitcoin’s or Bitcoin Cash’s private keys. It has an external Aluminum swivel cover that protects the USB drive and integrates a special security smart card used for validating transactions. The security card employs the same technology used for safeguarding financial transactions in banks.
How Ledger Nano Came About
In December 2014, three French startups namely BTChip, La Maison du Bitcoin and Chronion for the very first time launched a new hardware wallet that they named the Ledger Nano. Understandably so because the wallet itself is small, compact and incorporates smartcard security technology for transaction validation.
Ledger Wallet Nano is especially popular because is it affordable while still maintaining its integrity in terms of quality and security. It does this by implementing an innovative two layered security features to cancel out threats.
Ledger Nano Hardware Overview
Ledger Nano hardware wallet is a small, lightweight device, about the size of a flash disk (and almost similar in appearance) that is used to store Bitcoin and Bitcoin cash offline.
With this regard, this hardware wallet is said to be a “cold” wallet since private keys (your coin’s information) are not stored in the internet. You should remember that your private keys are your coins and not the other way round.
The Nano wallet is actually another additional product in the Ledger wallet company. Unlike the Nano S which is fitted with a large screen, Ledger Nano compensates this deficiency by being Hierarchical Deterministic (HD) and employs multi-sig protection as an additional security layer apart from the smart security card.
Inside the Box
The wallet is made of brushed steel, plastic and a smart card chip, all of which weighs 5.6 grams. There are no buttons on this wallet but what you will find inside the box is a small manual, a recovery phrase sheet and a leather card holder.
Let’s also not forget the security card. I will not complain about the not so smooth edges of the Aluminum cover since it is what makes the wallet robust.
Ledger Nano Specs
Ledger Nano installation
The first thing you will do is to plug it to your laptop. This hardware is inherently designed to run on Google Chrome, so you will need to download and install this browser on your desktop or laptop. You may ask why? Well, according to Ledger, they understand that hundreds of thousands of users probably use Firefox and other browsers but it all boils down to security including certificate validation. They simply prefer Google chrome over other interfaces. If you are using Linux, you may need to follow some user developer rules to comfortably access the Ledger API.
Secondly, never set up your Ledger Nano on an infected computer. The best way to set up is from an air gapped computer. These are computers that are completely isolated from the internet meaning they have no Wi-Fi or Ethernet connection. There are apps that can “air-gap” computers on demand.
Once you plug in the wallet, simply head over to www.Ledgerwallet.com this is where you will download and install the Ledger Chrome extension. This is necessary since this is the interface that will connect the hardware API to the entire blockchain.
Chrome Ledger Extension
After you have selected your pin, a Master Recovery Seed- a 24 word phrase will be generated. This master seed is used to recover the contents of your wallet incase you have forgotten the password or you’ve lost the wallet altogether. This phrase is very important and as such Ledger provides you with a recovery sheet where you can write and safely tuck it away. It is advisable to store your master seed off grid.
The recovery QR code needed for your security card is another security layer provided by Ledger. This is important because in case you lose the device, you will need some recovery right? This can easily be done by using this QR code which copies the content of your security card during recovery.
As soon as you have completed this crucial step, safely unplug it from your computer as it is now ready for use.
Ledger Nano Interface
If you thought setting up your pin and recovery phrase was easy, wait until you use the Nano’s intuitive interface. The interface is just about one of the simplest I have come across and even if you have never used a Bitcoin wallet before, you will rightly feel at home.
If you want to send or receive Bitcoins, simply plug in the USB port and enter the required 4-pin code to access the interface.
Once opened, you shall be greeted by a simple screen that has two sections:
A top bar which has the elementary options such as the account, the send option- for sending Bitcoins to other wallets, the receive option and the settings option that lets you configure your wallet to your liking.
The center screen which in essence displays your transaction history, account balance and also has the send and receives options.
The single most important factor when considering any wallet-hot or cold is the security it offers. There is no need of storing your 10BTC worth $150,000 in a sieve right?
So, apart from the 4-digit pin and 24 word seed, Ledger Nano Wallet introduces the smart security card for transaction validation. Validation applies when you are sending Bitcoin or Bitcoin Cash. Transaction validation typically takes around 20 second and is basically a matching game. All you have to do is enter the 4 digit code picked from the address of the recipient address and then matched with the corresponding digits from the security card. By doing this, you are tempering the device and making it hacker proof preventing what is technically known as Man-in-the-middle Attacks through this physical 2FA process.
This anti-malware second authentication is possible because the security card is itself based on EAL5+ standards that are used in financial processes and in government agencies to secure data. The security card in use is reliable and incorporates special micro-controllers that can squelch security threats. In fact Ledger guarantees 30 year of safe private keys retention for up to 30 years and over 300K+ of read or write cycles.
Additionally, to ensure you are in control, Ledger makes it possible for you to control your own private keys by storing them right the secure smart card. Everything is decentralized, security is client based and you are basically your own bank.
Ledger Nano takes security further by making sure that even though transactions are validated on the computer, nothing is signed or approved online without human interaction. Important elements such as coin transfer or private keys details is securely approved and signed within the smart card.
The wallet is also HD meaning that every time you request for payment, a new address is generated. Plus, suppose you lose your device, you can always recover the contents of your wallet by using any Ledger wallet or a BIP 39/44 complaint HD wallets like KeepKey, Trezor, Mycelium, Jaxx and others.
Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, Ethereum, Zcash, Litecoin, Ripple, Dodgecoin, Stratis
Pros and cons of Nano Ledger wallet
- The wallet is obviously beautiful, compact, lightweight and gets you value money. You can get it for $50.
- The fact that you can input different passwords to access different accounts on the same device is an advantage it possess over many of its competitors in the market.
- Nano wallet is compatible with different operating systems including windows, Linux and Mac
- Can not be used on mobile
- Then the number of coins supported is still limited
- Need to validate transactions every time you send or receive BTC
- You need a safe computer to set up the wallet
Otherwise all I can say is this is one safe wallet, the team behind it has gone through great lengths to cover every possible scenario that could undermine the safety of you private keys which is commendable.
From the cost perspective, I recommend Ledger Nano as a safe wallet though there is more room for improvement.