As the popular saying goes, “Not your keys, not your crypto.”
This is not merely a slogan, privacy and security are two core values that many in the crypto community cannot compromise on.
Hence, this supposedly new optional seed phrase recovery service introduced by Ledger sparked outrage and confusion among crypto enthusiasts, igniting fears of a backdoor where Ledger can retrieve users’ seed phrases.
So should we really be concerned?
The Ledger Recover Saga
Given the prevalence of crypto scams where hackers managed to drain users wallets of their crypto, the purported unparalleled level of security provided by hardware wallets has gained in popularity.
And for good reason, crypto in hardware wallets are stored offline, away from the prying eyes of potential hackers.
For the most part, Ledger has successfully positioned itself as a reputable and trusted brand of hardware wallet provider.
When setting up a Ledger wallet, users are provided with a seed phrase that serves as a wallet recovery mechanism so that they can recover their crypto even if the hardware wallet is damaged.
Be it a hot or cold wallet, if the seed phrase is lost, the crypto in it is lost forever. And if the seed phrase falls into the wrong hands, attackers can seize your crypto and drain your wallet.
Either way, say goodbye to your crypto and this is the main downside of self-custody.
Although Ledger probably has good intentions, their attempt to address this has obviously backfired.
The rollout of its controversial new feature Ledger Recover that costs a monthly fee of USD 9.99 enables users to backup their recovery seed phrase.
While it is entirely optional, the crux of the issue is that the crypto community is concerned and outraged by the fact that seed phrase recovery is possible and if Ledger has created a backdoor to your assets.
In addition, it is mandatory for users opting in for the Ledger Recover service to register with their government-issued identity card. This points towards further erosion of privacy which is frowned upon by the crypto community.
Amidst the confusion and public backlash, the response from Ledger Support through this deleted tweet only added fuel to fire.
Many Ledger users went on a rampage, disparaging the French hardware wallet maker for misrepresenting the security of their wallets.
Does this sound concerning?
Fret not, there are alternatives to Ledger out there!
5 Alternatives to The Ledger Cold Wallet
Created by Prague-based Satoshi Labs back in 2013, Trezor has established itself as one of the safest crypto hardware wallets ever built. Its flagship product is the Trezor Model T, where confidential information such as the PIN code and seed recovery phrases can be entered directly on the touch screen device itself.
Unlike Ledger, Trezor has made its software open source such that critical security updates and changes are more community-centric and transparent.
2. Gridplus Lattice 1
Though more pricey in comparison to other hardware wallets, the GridPlus Lattice 1 hardware wallet is effective in isolating your private keys and securing your assets even in the event an attacker assumes control of your device.
Any intrusion attempt will trigger a complete data erasure, this is a unique feature that is not found in Ledger hardware wallets.
3. Ellipal Titan
With more than 10,000 tokens supported across 46 different blockchains and an enhanced security feature utilizing QR codes in data transfer, the Ellipal Titan wallet is another one worth considering.
In comparison with Ledger and the other hardware wallets in this list, it is the only wallet that is fully separated from any form of network connectivity. This protects your crypto from any potential remote or network attacks.
4. NGRAVE ZERO
The price of the NGRAVE ZERO wallet is comparable to that of the GridPlus Lattice 1, both are a little on the steep side. It resembles Ellipal Titan in that offline transactions can be processed via a QR code based approach along with a mobile application.
However, what sets NGRAVE apart is their robust security features that can be attributed to their partnership with renowned Belgian cryptographer Jean-Jacques Quisquater.
The private keys are not pre-installed and can be randomized upon setup, the security it provides justifies the higher price point compared to other hardware wallets including Ledger.
5. Safepal S1
Backed by Binance Labs and simple to operate, the SafePal S1 is the most value for money given its affordable price tag and requirement for a PIN code on top of its secure QR-code based approach for signing transactions offline.
Similar to the GridPlus Lattice 1 wallet, if an attacker attempts to take over the device, the SafePal S1 hardware wallet has a proprietary self-destruct feature that is not available on Ledger.
|Trezor Model T||GridPlus Lattice 1||Ellipal Titan||NGRAVE ZERO||SafePal S1|
|Open source||Yes||Not yet but has plans to do so in Q3 2023||Yes||Yes||No|
|In-built exchange/trading support||Yes through synced app||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Price||USD 219||USD 397||USD 139||USD 398||USD 50|
From Ledger’s customer data leak some time ago to concerns surrounding its new seed phrase recovery service, it is a timely reminder to not put all your eggs in one basket and explore alternatives if you have not done so.
In short, there is currently no reason to believe Ledger’s firmware update or new Recover service impacts the security of the device, at least for now.
For greater peace of mind, refrain from subscribing to Ledger Recover!
You can still use a Ledger and the sensible approach is to store your seed phrase offline and refrain from connecting your hardware wallet to the internet unless absolutely necessary, such as to transfer crypto.
In that case, strictly avoid public or unsecured Wi-Fi networks when connecting to the internet.
At the same time, this is a timely wake-up call to reduce your dependency on Ledger by moving some of your crypto to alternative devices if you have not already done so.
This is not to suggest that these alternative devices are foolproof, diversification of assets is key to safeguard your crypto.
“[Editor’s Note: This article does not represent financial advice. Please do your research before investing.]
Featured Image Credit: ChainDebrief
This article was written by Clarence Lee and edited by Yusoff Kim