Ledger Nano S Review

 

What is The Ledger Nano S Wallet?

History of Ledger Nano S Wallet

Pros & Cons

Advantages

Disadvantages

UX Overview

Installation Tutorial

Security

How Ledger Nano S Compares To Other Wallets

FAQ

How to know if your Ledger Nano S is genuine?

Is Ledger Nano S safe to use?

How to update Ledger Nano S firmware?

Conclusion

 

What is The Ledger Nano S Wallet?

 

Ledger Nano S is a hardware wallet that is used for cold storage. The main advantage of hardware wallets is that they can store your cryptocurrency offline and keep it there for as long as you like. Such wallets are usually used to store larger amounts of crypto but there are other use cases for it.

You can think of a hardware wallet as your personal bank account but only you have custody over the funds. Without a recovery phrase, no one will be able to access or move the funds which make hardware wallets the first choice for many cryptocurrency investors.

History of Ledger Nano S Wallet

 

Ledger was founded in 2014 in Paris, France. Ever since the company has expanded to the United States with their development team now counting over 130 employees. Ever since the wallet became available in the market it enjoyed a lot of success but the data breach that occurred in late 2020 made many users question their loyalty to the brand.

A group of hackers managed to acquire user data from the Ledger database making their addresses and crypto holdings (in some cases) known to potentially harmful individuals. Many wallet owners received threats through emails with bad actors asking for ransom.

This incident raised a lot of concerns and the Ledger team is actively trying to correct their mistake and make sure it won’t happen again.

In January 2021 another breach was reported by media outlets. This time rogue actors at  Shopify exposed 20,000 new Ledger customer records, including emails, names, postal addresses, and phone numbers. As a response, the Ledger team issues a Bitcoin bounty to anyone that can provide solutions for such breaches and exploits.

Even though user funds still remain intact and there is no real threat for them, there is a danger of getting your personal data exposed so new Ledger users are advised to get informed on all potential dangers before actually purchasing the device.

 

Pros & Cons

 

Pros

 

  • Affordable price

 

  • Over 1000 cryptocurrencies are supported

 

  • Simple setup

 

  • Lightweight

 

  • USB Stick-like design

 

Cons

 

  • Potential data breaches

 

  • Not open-source

 

  • Difficult screen navigation

 

  • No passphrase support

 

Advantages

 

Ledger Nano S comes at a very affordable price of $59 (at the time of writing). This allows even smaller investors to safely store their cryptocurrency with Nano S. On top of that, a big advantage for Ledger Nano S is that it supports over 1000 cryptocurrencies including almost all well-known coins and tokens.

As stated on their website, staking is also supported for some cryptocurrencies like Polkadot, Cardano, Neo, and many others.

 

The design of the wallet shouldn’t be overlooked also. It is created to resemble a USB stick which gives it a familiar feel and look. While navigating the small screen on this wallet may be a bit of a hustle, once you get used to it things become a lot easier. Security is also considered to be top-notch as cold wallet storage can only be unlocked by using the recovery phrase.

 

Disadvantages

 

The code is closed-source so some advanced users may find this as a disadvantage. Other, more serious issues, specifically the security breach that leaked a lot of user data and the lack of support for passphrases should not go unnoticed.

Ledger wallets are usually ordered online so a lot of personal information is shared during that one transaction. If that data isn’t secure we may see breaches that affect a lot of customers. A lot of threat actors had access to personal information that was potentially damaging because it included the home addresses of almost all Ledger owners.

The lack of passphrase support isn’t that surprising because a lot of Ledger competitors don’t support it as well. For those unfamiliar, a passphrase is an added layer of protection for hardware wallets. On top of the 24 words that are used to unlock the wallet, there would be an additional 24 that would be defined by the user.

If someone steals or finds your lost wallet, they would be unable to move the funds even if they have the recovery phrase.

UX Overview

 

Since Ledger Nano S is a hardware wallet there isn’t much to debate regarding the UX. It is designed to resemble a USB stick so it looks very familiar even for beginners. The small display that is built into the device is used to navigate the menu and make transactions.

Just like Trezor, the Ledger Nano S has two physical buttons that need to be pressed in order for a transaction to be confirmed. This is one more extra layer of protection that prevents transactions to be confirmed remotely. Even if someone gains access to your wallet, they would not be able to confirm the transactions without the actual device.

 

Installation Tutorial

 

The easiest way to install your Ledger Nano S is by using a desktop computer. This can be done by downloading the managing app from the Ledger website.

This app allows users to install different software for different tokens and coins. For example, if you want to use Bitcoin with the Ledger wallet you would need to install and open the Bitcoin Ledger Application. Scroll through the options and press both keys on the B icon that says “Bitcoin”. This will allow you to see and interact with the wallet interface on Ledger Nano S.

 

Security

User data leaks are concerning to some but Ledger wallets haven’t actually been breached so far. Nano S offers coin control, something that almost all other cold wallets lack. Coin control protects users from “dusting attacks” that have become very common in recent years. Users can control which UTXOs they send out first.

More specifically, they can choose between LIFO (Last in, first out) and FIFO (First in, first out). Even if users have small amounts of Bitcoin in an UTXO this feature protects it from being spent.

 

In general, users can expect maximum security with Ledger Nano S. The only thing they should worry about is who they give their data to when purchasing this wallet online.

 

How Ledger Nano S Compares To Other Wallets

 

KeepKey and Trezor are two main competitors to Ledger so it is only fair to compare it with these two brands. The main difference between Ledger Nano S and the competition is that Trezor and KeepKey are basically a mini-computer while Leger only uses two secure elements/chips. Less hardware and software means less room for exploits.

 

In terms of design, it only comes down to personal taste. Ledger Nano S is very light and overall very easy to use. Others may have a better feel in your hand, but again, it is only a matter of taste. Some argue that KeepKey has a more “premium” feel when compared to Ledger Nano S.

The lack of support for a recovery passphrase comes into play again. Trezor has had this feature for a while now but we still have to see Nano S adopt it as well.

 

It is fair to state that Ledger Nano S meets all of the standard criteria a cryptocurrency investor may have. Storing and transacting with the wallet is fairly easy and it can also be used on the Ethereum network.

Doing this would require connecting it to Metamask but once you set it up, it works just as well as any “hot” wallet you can find. In conclusion, Ledger Nano S offers maximum security with optional interoperability for those that want to interact with Ethereum applications directly.

 

FAQ

 

How to know if your Ledger Nano S is genuine?

 

Users are encouraged to purchase Ledger wallets on the official website. Purchasing a Ledger Nano S from a Ledger Amazon store is also an option. Here is a list of official stores based on your geolocation:

 

 

Other indications that the device may not be genuine are the box contents. Be sure to check the original state of the device and confirm that it has no physical marks of usage. The recovery phrase sheet should be blank and the preinstalled software needs to be official. Contents of the box should include:

 

  • A Ledger device (Ledger Nano S, a Ledger Blue, etc.)
  • 3 paper cards, including
  • A Getting started card
  • A Did you notice card
  • Either one or three blank Recovery sheets, depending on the production date
  • Additional accessories, such as a keychain and a lanyard
  • Additional packaging (unmarked foam / cardboard)

 

Is Ledger Nano S safe to use?

 

Just like any other hardware wallet, the Ledger Nano S is as secure as you make it. There is no passphrase recovery so it is important to know that your private keys are the only way to access and control your funds. Once the installation process is complete your private keys will be displayed on the device.

It is very important to store them in a safe place and make sure that you have access to them because there is no other way to recover your funds.

 

How to update Ledger Nano S firmware?

 

Firmware updates usually improve user experience as well as cryptographic support. Users that want to update to firmware 1.6.1 should follow these instructions:

 

 

 

  1. Start Ledger Live and open the Manager
  2. Click Manager on the main menu
  3. Connect and unlock your device. If asked, allow the manager on your device
  4. Check which firmware version is currently installed on your Ledger Nano S

 

 

 

  • Before the process starts Ledger Live should be updated.
  • Linux users that use 1.5.5 will need to add new udev rules. Instructions for that process can be found here.
  • Firmware versions 1.1 and 1.2 can not be updated with Ledger Live.
  • Instructions on how to check your current version can be found here.

 

  • In the Manager, click on the blue Update firmware button.
  • If you don’t see the button, please try again later as the release is rolled out progressively.

  • Carefully read all instructions on the window that appears.

 

  • If your recovery phrase is written down and accessible, then tick the checkbox at the bottom and click on Continue. The update process normally does not require the recovery phrase, but you should have it available as a precaution.

 

  • The next screen will inform you that the apps will be automatically uninstalled before clicking on Continue. Don’t worry, this does not affect your crypto assets, you can reinstall the apps later.

Verify the Identifier

Your device will show update firmware, the version number, and an Identifier.

 

  • Verify that the Identifier in Ledger Live matches the one on your Ledger Nano S
  • Press both buttons to choose Perform update
  • Enter your PIN code to confirm. Your device will restart

 

The update process will continue automatically. Ledger Live will display multiple progress loaders, while your Ledger Nano S displays Processing. Your device is successfully updated once Ledger Live displays that Firmware has been updated.


More information on the process can be found here.

 

Conclusion

 

If we look beyond the data leaks and insecure user information, Ledger Nano S is a very stable and reliable hardware wallet. When compared to its competitors, it is easy to point out a lot of perks that make Ledger Nano S superior in a sense. Having the ability to securely store thousands of cryptocurrencies at a very acceptable price is exactly what you should expect from this hardware wallet.

 

 

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