if you’re serious about owning digital currencies, you need a hardware wallet. Just as the wallet in your pocket stores physical currency, a crypto wallet stores your digital currency. It keeps you safe from hackers, yet conveniently available when you need it. As far as wallets go, the Ledger Nano X strikes a good balance between simplicity and security. While it is beginner friendly, it offers a high level of security in an offline wallet.
When you buy digital currency, you are not buying a physical item. There is no coin or bill, as is the case with traditional currencies. When you buy a cryptocurrency, you are actually buying a pair of public and private keys, both cryptographically generated on the blockchain. These keys are unique. The private key unlocks your publicly stored part of the blockchain, which you can then spend anywhere that accepts the coin.
This is hard for most of us to comprehend, which is why we tend to buy and store our digital currencies on exchanges like Coinbase. But the problem is that we do not have the private keys of that money. Without private keys, you don’t really control it. At the same time, if you do have the keys, you should keep them locked up and not just stashed away on a hard drive. That’s where the Nano X comes in.
what you really own
If you buy crypto through an exchange or brokerage, like Coinbase or Kraken, they store your private keys for you. A crypto brokerage is conceptually similar to a bank, but with some very important differences, notably that their crypto brokerage is not federally insured.
In this scenario, you are at the mercy of the exchange. If the exchange is hacked and your private key is stolen, you’re out of luck (or money). Exchanges also sometimes disappear overnight, either going bankrupt or the founders deciding to go out of town with everyone’s digital currency. All this and more has happened, repeatedly. The simple truth is that if you don’t have your private key stored on a hardware device that is under your control, you don’t actually own any cryptography.
Ledger Nano X is a secure hardware wallet that stores your private keys. It looks like a rotating USB stick, with a small screen on the front, mainly because it is a USB stick with a screen on the front.
Just buy your Nano X directly from Ledger. Any other source could potentially be compromised. The Nano X is available on Amazon, in what appears to be a legitimate Ledger storefront, but I still recommend buying direct from Ledger. The company offers free shipping, so there’s absolutely nothing to be gained from shopping on Amazon, and doing so introduces considerable risk.
When you first arrive, the first thing your Ledger Nano X will do is guide you through downloading the companion app, Ledger Live. There are versions available for almost all platforms and I tested them on Linux. Once you’ve installed the app, plug in the Nano X and the app will walk you through a few questions designed to make sure your device hasn’t been tampered with on its way to you. If anything looks suspicious, stop and contact Ledger.
Assuming all is well, the next step is to generate a 24-word “seed” phrase, which is really just a few random words. This is what Nano X uses to protect and lock your cryptocurrency private keys. The Ledger app makes it simple to generate the seed phrase and even forces you to double check and verify it. This is the most important part of your Nano X. Don’t lose that phrase. If you have significant amounts of money in your Nano X, I recommend that you keep a copy of this seed phrase in a safe deposit box or similar secure location.
Back and forth
Once your Nano is set up, it’s time to get your crypto out of whatever exchange account you’ve been using. To do this, you’ll use the Ledger Live app to set up an “account” for each coin you own. This creates a public key to send your cryptocurrency.