Diving into the physical and software security components reveals some promising safeguards for hardware wallet users.
Hardware wallets offer a much more thorough level of protection, as these physical devices enable investors to take their private keys into their own hands and secure them into a harder-to-hack product.
First, hardware devices use encrypted chips for resisting sophisticated attacks and hosting numerous applications.
For example, in Ledger, we use Secure Element (SE) chips, cryptographically protected chips used in the likes of passports and SIM cards: your private keys stay safe and isolated inside the secure element. Additionally, our physical devices are independently certified by ANSSI, the French cybersecurity agency.
However, even hardware wallets are prone to attacks including physical attacks to abstract keys, fault attacks to disrupt a wallet’s chip causing faulty behavior or hacker access, and side channel attacks, which involves a hacker “listening” to the chip’s electric or electromagnetic signature to gain access to the device.
While the emergence of hardware wallets are providing critical new security solutions, most vendors are still vulnerable to various attacks.
That’s where Ledger comes in. We are pioneering hardware wallet technology that provides unprecedented levels of security for crypto asset through a secure element — a chip designed specifically to resist highly skilled attackers and a custom OS designed specifically to protect crypto assets.