Every new Bitcoin hardware wallet arriving on the market claims to be “the ultimate”, but how have these devices, still somewhat alien to the majority of Bitcoin users, progressed so far in 2016?
Hardware Wallets: Variations on a Theme?
Several years after pioneering model TREZOR reached the market, storing bitcoins on offline hardware can still – paradoxically – feel like a leap of faith in terms of security, as well as more hassle than logging into Blockchain.info with “simple” password entry.
Bitcoin.com took a look at 3 newcomers to the hardware scene this year, and their characteristics reveal not only crystallization of features and reliability but also that manufacturers are focusing on Bitcoin security like never before.
Homage to TREZOR
A good example of the “new standard” when it comes to cold storage can be found in KeepKey’s device. Bulkier and definitely more expensive than TREZOR or other well-known models such as Ledger, KeepKey is designed for at-home storage of larger volumes of currency.
The price is already a talking point – $239 USD at present, compared to $99 for TREZOR and a tiny $39 for Ledger’s Nano. For this, the specs are notably similar to TREZOR, with minor differences in security features and others such as multiple currency support still raising questions over the price point.
Reviews have simultaneously noted, however, that build quality and usability combine to give a tangibly more comfortable experience – a factor which ultimately lends itself to drawing the attention of less technically-minded Bitcoin holders.
Elsewhere, manufacturers are diversifying on top of industry stalwarts’ offerings in other ways. CoolWallet has created a credit card-sized device which can communicate with any NFC or Bluetooth-enabled device. This includes, of course, the average smartphone, making uber-secure mobile payments in BTC a real possibility for around $100.
The 360-Degree Security Game Continues
The question of how an offline wallet can provide infallible protection of digital currency wealth is, as ever, being addressed with ever more extravagant market offerings.
While these used to seem more for show than matching practical threats, this year seems to have more mature solutions becoming available. Hong Kong startup BitLox this week released its two “indestructible” wallets, encased in titanium and parading features users would likely not have considered to be necessary.
So-called “hidden wallets,” for example, allow users to keep funds in wallets indistinguishable from random code. “It is impossible to prove that these wallets even exist,” the company says. “This gives you perfect plausible deniability.”
BitLox even advocates keeping a small amount of BTC in an open wallet. “In the unlikely case of extortion or coercion, one could even reluctantly give up one hidden wallet,” it continues in a press release issued Monday. “But that’s OK, because the BitLox supports up to 50 hidden Bitcoin wallets for unprecedented privacy and security of users.”
How do you envisage Bitcoin storage security evolving? Do you think hardware wallets will become standard in some form, and do you plan on getting one? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!
Images courtesy of ihb.io, Coolbtcx.com, Bitlox.com, Ledgerwallet.com, keepkey.com