Tag Archives: Hardware

Secure Your Cryptocurrency with the Right Wallet

While blockchain technology ensures that cryptocurrency transactions are immutable, irreversible, and secure, where cryptocurrency is stored is a determining factor in how secure it is. Having a vulnerable cryptocurrency wallet is like storing money at a suspicious bank: it’s unsafe and it behooves the investor to do enough research to sleep at night knowing their assets are safe.

WHAT IS A CRYPTOCURRENCY WALLET?

Every transaction in the blockchain shared record is signed by a private key linked to the user’s account. As we covered in the first blog in our cryptocurrency series, the blockchain is the decentralized mechanism that prevents double spending and validates transactions. Cryptocurrency wallets store the private keys. Although cryptocurrencies are not stored within the wallet, they are protected by the address created and stored by the wallet. Deciding on the right wallet for your cryptocurrency is one of the most important decisions since it will make or break the security of your assets.

There are five different types of wallets to choose from: mobile wallets, desktop wallets, hardware wallets, paper wallets and online wallets.

PAPER WALLETS

Paper wallets are the most basic form of wallet. They are an offline wallet consisting of two QR Codes. One of the codes is the cryptocurrency address and the other is the associated encrypted private key.

The benefit of a paper wallet is that it cannot be hacked. It is essentially a piece of paper that is stored in a safe place like a safe or safety deposit box. Unfortunately, while paper wallets may be exceptionally safe since they are unhackable, they are not exceptionally nimble. If you are looking to buy and sell cryptocurrencies frequently, this may not be the option for you.

ONLINE WALLETS

If you are new to cryptocurrency and have recently invested, chances are you are currently using an online wallet like Coinbase, Blockchain, or Xapo. Online wallets are run by third-party providers, so the security of currency is dependent on the company running the show. As the hack of NiceHash proves, this is not always the best thing. CoinBase insures their client’s investments and stores the majority of their cryptocurrency offline. While Online Wallets provide an easy avenue for buying and selling cryptocurrencies, storing cryptocurrency offline is significantly safer.

MOBILE WALLETS

Mobile cryptocurrency wallets are software wallets that make cryptocurrency available through mobile devices. One of the benefits of a mobile wallet is that merchants that accept cryptocurrency can use NFC technology to sync with their apps and provide wireless payments.

The most popular mobile wallets include Copay, breadwallet, and for Android users: Bitcoin Wallet. While mobile wallets make cryptocurrencies nimble, they are only as secure as the smartphone on which they are being used. Storing large amounts of cryptocurrency on mobile devices is not recommended, but they can be a good tool for investors who are buying and selling cryptocurrency on the go.

DESKTOP WALLETS

Like mobile wallets, desktop wallets are software designed for desktop computers. They are more secure than mobile wallets, but less nimble. Still, for those who want to secure their cryptocurrency and don’t mind being limited to their computer, desktop wallets are a great option.

Bitcoin Core is the original Bitcoin wallet, but it is somewhat techy and precarious to install as it requires downloading the entire blockchain.

Electrum is one of the most popular desktop bitcoin wallets. It’s easy to use and it can be configured for advanced features like TOR and cold storage, making it accessible to newbies with higher functionality for high-tech users.

Exodus features one of the best UIs available for a wallet. It allows users to instantly trade currencies stored within the exchange between themselves and it is partially open source.

HARDWARE WALLETS

Aside from paper wallets, hardware wallets are the most secure method of securing cryptocurrency. Hardware wallets are small computers, smartcards, or dongles created to generate private keys offline, securely signing transactions in the offline environment. Like paper wallets, hardware wallets cannot be hacked remotely and are as secure as the place in which they are stored. The only difference is that hardware wallets, like all technology, can lose functionality with age and improper upkeep.

The best hardware wallets are Ledger Nano and Trezor. Ledger Nano is a smartcard-based hardware wallet that can be used on any computer or Android phones with Mycelium or Greenbits mobile wallets. Trezor is a tiny computer, rather than a smartcard, but both upon set-up generate a random 24-word seed that backs-up the funds and can be used to recover all funds within the wallet. It is best to have a hardware wallet with its own screen, like Trezor, since hardware wallets that plug into the computer expose themselves to the security vulnerabilities of the computer.

TAKEAWAY

There are many ways to store cryptocurrency with varying levels of security. For those who are looking for the most secure method, hardware and paper wallets are the best route. For those who are looking to trade on the go, mobile and online wallets provide the best flexibility. Desktop wallets are the happy medium. So long as wallet options have been researched, cryptocurrency investors can rest easy knowing they made the informed decision.

Next week, for the next installment of our blog series on cryptocurrencies, we will explore the revolutionary mechanics of the Blockchain. Stay tuned!

Scopes: How Ubuntu Is Changing the OS Landscape by Eschewing Apps

In the world of operating systems, Android and Apple reign supreme. According to leading research firm Gartner, about 97% of new smartphones sold are either iPhone or Android devices. While Windows, Firefox OS, and Blackberry all attempted to take a seat at the OS table, no company has been able to top Android & iOS. With the landscape more fixed than ever, Ubuntu has entered the arena with a different strategy which may break through the noise and catch on.

Ubuntu managed to stir up publicity in 2013 when they launched the largest crowdfunding campaign of all time through IndieGoGo—and failed. They attempted to raise $32 million in one month, but only hit $12.8 million and received none of the funds. Regardless, the stunt captured the attention of many and helped make a name for the young company.

Ubuntu has made waves in the tech world with an innovative strategy which eschews traditional OS models. Instead of apps, Ubuntu uses Scopes. Scopes are home-screen dashboards which present content from various sources alongside each other on a page. For instance, the music Scope puts songs stored locally on the device side-by-side with Youtube, Apple Music, and other music library services. The video Scope allows users to search for a title and see where it is available for viewing rather than forcing the user to to search individual video streaming libraries like Netflix and Hulu. Instead of forcing the user to search for content within a specific app, Scopes present the content from all providers that have it available.

If apps are folders in a computer, Scopes allow the user to search through the entire local storage disk rather than have to check each individual folder. The philosophy is intended to provide a more intuitive user experience. When a user wants to find content or information, they care less about where it’s coming from than receiving the content with the highest quality attainable.

Check out this awesome video walkthrough of Scopes functionality to better understand how they work visually:

Scopes are easier and less time-consuming to design than native-apps. Scopes also appeal to mobile developers as they offer more discoverability for their companies than apps in the app store. The lack of division in presenting search results ensures the best content will rise to the top, rather than the most popular brand. Given the lower price of entry and the innovative approach, Ubuntu parent company Canonical has managed to bring name-brand content providers to build Scopes, including Twitter, Facebook, Amazon, Yelp, SoundCloud, and more. Communities are also developing Scopes for other apps, including Dropbox and Spotify, using their APIs.

Meizu launched the Meizu PRO 5 Ubuntu Edition in February 2016. They currently have four phones on the market, including BQ Aquarius E5 HD, and the previous versions of either device. Windows 10 with Ubuntu recently went into public preview. Going forward, Ubuntu must become available on enough devices to gain traction and popularity if they want to compete with Android & iOS. Given the amount of resources at their disposal and the clear innovation on display in Ubuntu’s philosophy, we wouldn’t be surprised if Apple or Android took a shot at figuring out a way of applying Scopes within their OS.