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What’s in your (crypto) wallet!

By Neil Jacobs

When the average person hears the word ‘cryptocurrency’, the first thing that may come to their mind is the many stories of people losing or having their cryptocurrency stolen. Today, I’ll try to put your mind at ease and I’ll be talking about the places you can store your bitcoin, ethereum, and other cryptocurrencies.

Wallets! You may be thinking, that’s a word I’m familiar with. And just like the way you store your US dollars (or other fiat currency) in that wallet in your pocket, you will want to store your private keys associated with your digital currency in a wallet. Today, I will be talking about some of the wallets available where you can store your private keys. The wallets I will be discussing today are:

  1. Hardware Wallets (safest)
  2. Desktop Wallets (can be safe)
  3. Web Wallets (less safe)
  4. Mobile Wallets (less safe)

Hardware Wallets
A wallet can be classified as either cold or hot. A hot wallet is one that is connected to the internet. Hardware wallets are cold wallets and of the wallets, I will be discussing today, I would consider hardware wallets the safest wallet to store your private keys on. A hardware wallet is an actual physical device that will hold your private keys. I own two hardware wallets, a Trezor and a Nano S Ledger. The most time-consuming part of setting up either of these devices is writing down your 24-word recovery seed. This will be the only way you will be able to recover your private keys if your device is lost or stolen, so make sure you write down multiple copies. Before purchasing your hardware wallet, you will want to look into whether it holds the type of cryptocurrency you hold. (If you want to purchase either the Trezor or Nano S Ledger, I would recommend buying them directly from https://trezor.io or https://www.ledgerwallet.com.

Desktop Wallets
A desktop wallet is a software you will download on your computer. First off, when you download anything off of the internet, you always need to make sure it isn’t a trap. Do your own research and make sure you are downloading software from a legitimate source. Desktop wallets are typically easy to use, but since they are on your computer, presumably your computer will be hot and connected to the internet. Anyone who gets access to your computer can theoretically steal your private keys. You can take extra precautions and buy a laptop specifically for crypto and keep it not connected to the internet (yes, people do this).

Web Wallets
Web Wallets (aka Online Wallets) are typically accessed through a web browser. I would include exchange wallets in this category (Coinbase, Binance, etc.). Any time that your private keys are kept on a central server outside of your control, they are vulnerable to a hack. Additionally, while you are accessing these wallets, if a hacker has control of your computer, they could steal your crypto. One might ask, why use web wallets at all? In terms of exchanges, day traders will find it convenient to keep their crypto on exchanges. There are typically fees when you withdraw from wallets. Web wallets also provide easier use than a hardware wallet which you would need on you to access your private keys. Bottom line, if you can avoid keeping your private keys on web wallets, avoid it!

Mobile Wallets

Like web wallets, mobile wallets are very easy to use and like most people these days, you will almost always have access to your phone. That is the advantage. The major problem with mobile wallets is that they are extremely vulnerable to attacks. Phones are subject to malware, actual physical tampering, and they are usually hot.

Final Thoughts
For the most safety and security, buy a hardware wallet! Investors and traders should invest in one of these. It will give you peace of mind.

As for anything in crypto (and in life), don’t just take my word for it. Always look at multiple sources and do your own research.

The above references an opinion and is for information purposes only. It is not intended to be investment advice. Seek a duly licensed professional for investment advice.



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