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Beyond hardware and software wallets: Where’s the safest place to store your cryptocurrency?

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Beyond hardware and software wallets: Where’s the safest place to store your cryptocurrency?
Source: Pixabay

We investigate the existing ways of banking your cryptocurrency and try to find out if newer second-generation solutions, or new technologies, deserve your trust.

Reportedly over $1 billion worth of currency was taken directly out of the digital pockets of users, exchanges and businesses by hackers and other malicious attackers worldwide between 2017 and 2018.

The importance of security to blockchain is arguably reflected in both the severity and regularity of cryptocurrency related thefts. Theft poses a threat to blockchain companies of all types, as well as to token-holders.

Exchanges use software wallets

Significant examples are attacks against cryptocurrency exchanges: making victims of both the business and its customers.

It is unknown which individual citizen has lost the greatest volume of cryptocurrency at this point [and it’s not something many would admit to], but in the worst recorded cases of attacks, victims have lost millions of dollars worth of tokens.

In some cases where this happens, the exchange [if financially, commercially and ethically grounded] refunds all customers affected for their losses. Others, however, are not so fortunate.

Exchanges are continually targeted by hackers for a myriad of reasons, but generally speaking, it can be summed up by the following conclusion: all funds and wallets are held in a networked resource, and provide an “always online” token-storage solution for customers.

If the network is compromised, then all user data and currency is made vulnerable as well. This has led to the creation of solutions which seek to overcome these security flaws, such as the first generation of “hardware wallets”.

When Wallets went hardware

The fundamental difference between hardware and software wallets is indicated by their names.

With software wallets [like accounts on crypto exchanges]: user funds, identity, and private keys are stored and managed by the service provider in an online server. Hardware wallets, on the other hand, attempt to protect funds and other data by storing them fully offline.

A typical hardware wallet keeps private keys in memory on a device and signs transactions outside of the computer environment so that the keys cannot be exposed to an online attack.

Whilst the key is secure for the most part due to being stored on an offline device, this does not make these wallets completely oblivious to security threats. After all, the key is still secured on this device which-if compromised-would allow the attacker full access to the victim’s account.

The hardware wallets today are far different from their forebears. Many of these progenitors have released subsequent products along with a new generation of competitors, with new features and technologies that go beyond cold storage methods.

Hardware wallets have been praised by many as one of the most reliable ways to keep your cryptocurrency safe, however, this does not guarantee 100% safety. Cold storage devices protect users from online attacks [since the private keys are never online], but they do not offer protection from physical attacks such as when the device is seized, lost, or stolen.

Hardware 2.0

Threats to security don’t always come from external sources, with reports of user errors costing individuals dearly.

Hardware wallet manufacturer Bitfi claims to have eradicated problems surrounding storage and subsequent theft of private keys by creating a device in which the private key is created anytime a user performs a transaction. No private keys exist on the device once a transaction is complete.

Because no vulnerable data is stored on board in the device, it means that even if a hacker were to successfully intrude, they would not have access to any usable data.

This could prove to be an elegant solution to an ongoing security challenge. Rather than building ever more sophisticated encryption to store private keys, Bitfi doesn’t store them at all. This eliminates the possibility that they can be stolen.

According to BitFi representatives, the reason for this is:

“something that is stored can be stolen either through an online or physical offline attack. On the other hand, something that is not there at all cannot be stolen.”

A blank slate

The latest product from Bitfi is called the DMA-2 and it’s the company’s second-generation entry into the market, and the project receives continual updates online. Whilst a progression in firmware and an upgrade in hardware, DMA2 still possesses all of the key features that make BitFi’s technology different from other wallets on the market.

Instead of using a mnemonic seed as the means of recovering an otherwise inaccessible account, BitFi replaces this long [up to 24 words] access code with a much shorter ‘secret phrase’. One that is easier to remember than its counterpart, and thus offering the possibility to be memorized.

The secret phrase feature is amongst a number of key features incorporated into BitFi’s technology that is focused towards providing the best security solution for cryptocurrency storage, that anybody can use with relative ease.

Along with an accessible and UX optimized interface, BitFi doesn’t require the user to install any additional applications or software on their computer: reducing the number of steps between becoming a customer and being a secured token-holder.

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Crypto Wallet & Visa Card launches Apple Pay & Google Pay on iPhone and Samsung Devices

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Crypto Wallet & Visa Card launches Apple Pay & Google Pay on iPhone and Samsung Devices
Source: announced that the Spend App is now integrated and compatible with both Apple Pay and Google Pay, available on iPhone, Samsung, and other Android devices.

Spend is now the first company in the world to offer this service tied to 16+ supported digital currencies. The Spend team has created innovative ways to transfer, spend and send digital assets and currencies. Spend users will be able to link their Spend Visa® Card and Spend Virtual Visa® Card directly to their Apple Wallet and Google Pay Wallet.

What does this mean? Traditionally, Apple Pay and Google Pay allow users to make secure purchases in stores, in apps and on the web, as well as send and receive money from friends and family [in Messenger]. Now, when linked to the Spend Visa® Card, users will be able to take advantage of all the supported digital and fiat currencies available within the Spend App anywhere Apple Pay and Google Pay is accepted. These features will be available on the release of Spend App v2.5.

The Spend App

With a quick and easy download from either the Apple App Store or the Google Play Store, the Spend App and Wallet will be the only digital wallet ever needed again. The Spend App allows users to store, withdraw, send, and spend more than 16 cryptocurrencies and 27 fiat currencies at over 40 million locations.

Spend users also have the ability to send funds around the globe and/or exchange various currencies all from their Spend App. Whether someone needs to send money to family in Europe or buy/sell different currencies, it can all be done from the Spend App, which currently supports:

  • 16+ Cryptocurrencies
  • US Dollar
  • Canadian Dollar
  • Euro
  • 24 Additional Fiat Currencies

In addition to being able to send, spend, buy and sell currencies around the globe, users will have the power of detailed analytics at their fingertips to track coins and currencies. Spend’s in-app analytics gives users instant access to the most up to date charts and figures on any currency or coin users choose to track!

App Benefits

  • Currency Swap: Looking to exchange CAD to USD or XRP to LTC. Exchange any currency instantly with Spend, where applicable.
  • Multiple Currency Support: Hold USD, CAD, EUR, and 24 additional fiat currencies and over 16 cryptocurrencies all within the Spend Wallet.
  • Performance: 99.9% uptime with enhanced performance infrastructure in place.
  • Compliance Built-In: Verify account identity instantly within the Spend App.
  • Buy Crypto & Send Fiat: Users can purchase 16+ cryptocurrencies from their linked bank accounts, right from the Spend App, as well as transfer funds in over 180 countries.
  • Secure Storage: Highest level of AES encryption with PCI DSS Level 1 Certification.

Connecting the Spend Wallet To The Spend Visa® Card

Once a user downloads the Spend App, they will be able to access and manage their funds anytime with the Spend Wallet & Spend Visa® Card. Once verified utilizing Spend’s in-app KYC system, users have the choice to immediately get issued a virtual card that can be used immediately at any merchant that accepts Visa® online. Users also have the option to order a physical card. In addition, Spend clients can earn up to 6% rewards back on all purchases. Cards are now available in the United States and Spend has secured issuers for its Visa® Card product in Canada, Europe, and Asia-Pacific regions.

Spend offers its users three different levels of cards, each with its own unique benefits:

  • Spend Simple™ – Spend’s introductory Visa® card. Spend Simple™ gives users access to the platform and all the great features offered. Upgrades are always available to Spend Preferred and Black.
  • Spend Preferred™ – Spend’s most popular everyday Visa® card. Spend Preferred™ grants users a flexible spending limit for use as an everyday card with access to the Spend VIP Program and enhanced rewards.
  • Spend Black™ – Our exclusive Visa® card for elite users. With an optional sleek metal design*, Spend Black™ cardholders receive access to the highest spending limits, highest rewards, and Spend VIP Elite Program.

With all Spend Visa® Cards, users will enjoy advanced security features, an option of both a virtual or physical card, 24/7 support, as well as both card and wallet rewards, powered by Spendcoin [$SPND].

No matter what level of card users are looking for, Spend has the perfect card to fit their needs, when tied to the Spend App.

At no point can cardholders load cryptocurrency such as Bitcoin onto their Spend Visa® Card. All cryptocurrency will be converted to the appropriate local fiat currency first on the Spend Wallet and then that local fiat currency will be loaded on the Spend Visa® Card for use in purchase and ATM withdrawals.

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