Oftentimes choosing a mobile cryptocurrency wallet is the equivalent of choosing convenience and accessibility over security.
But in the last few years, there have been significant developments in the security of mobile wallets, and cryptocurrency users now have a plethora of options to choose from — many of which offer security features that rival even the most security desktop wallets.
With that in mind, we take a look at three of the most secure options today — for when security is paramount.
Coin Wallet + YubiKey
When selecting a mobile wallet, it’s important to prioritize security over all else, since many mobile wallets to tend to be less secure than their desktop counterparts — due to the simple fact that mobile phones are more accessible than computers.
To overcome this issue, Coin Wallet — currently one of the most popular multi-asset wallets for mobile — became one of the first wallets to support FIDO based two-factor authentication. By combining Coin Wallet with a FIDO-compliant 2FA key, such as the $45 YubiKey 5 or Google’s $50 Titan Security Key, users can be confident that their assets are covered by the strongest security standards.
(Image: Coin Wallet)
Although Coin Wallet is most commonly used with mobile devices, it also has desktop app versions for Mac OS and Windows, as well as a simple web wallet version. Each of these can also be used in combination with the YubiKey or other supported security key to maximize the security of funds. This YubiKey will need to be connected to the device running the wallet app any time a transaction needs to be made — without it, hackers or scammers will be unable to access any user funds.
Besides FIDO 2FA support, Coin Wallet also utilizes client side AES-256 encryption to encrypt coins directly on the device and includes BIP39 passphrase encryption. This ensures coins cannot be retrieved even if the device is physically accessed, while still enabling the user to recover their funds with their secure passphrase if needed.
With more than 20 million downloads and support for eight of the most popular cryptocurrencies, Coin Wallet is quickly establishing itself as the dominant cryptocurrency mobile wallet.
Depending on the type of asset stored and used most, many cryptocurrency owners may be able to benefit from multi-signature security for their assets.
Unlike standard wallets, multi-signature wallets require signatures from multiple different key holders in order to process a transaction. This usually follows a simple m-of-n scheme, where a minimum of m out of a total of n keyholders need to sign off on the transaction before it is processed — for example, 2-of-3, or 4-of-7 holders.
The exact implementation of multi-signature varies based on the cryptocurrency, and can range from smart contract-based multi-sig for cryptocurrencies like Ethereum (ETH), Ethereum Classic (ETC), and Waves, to the bare multi-signature offered by Bitcoin (BTC) and the threshold signatures offered by Bitcoin SV (BSV).
Because of the complexity of multi-signature support, most multi-sig wallets only support a single cryptocurrency, so they’re not ideal for anybody with a diverse cryptocurrency portfolio — since they would require several different wallet solutions to successfully manage their portfolio.
Nonetheless, for those looking to manage a single cryptocurrency using multi-signature protection, a wide array of mobile wallets now support the option. These include Electrum, BitPay, and BitGo for Bitcoin; Electron Cash for Bitcoin Cash (BCH); and Freewallet for Tron (TRX).
Use a Hardware Wallet
Hardware wallets have long been known as the gold standard in cryptocurrency security, since they allow users to store their funds in a secure offline environment, even when signing transactions.
Until recently, they were largely reserved for those that managed their assets from their desktop — due to a lack of mobile support. But this changed in recent years, when several of the most popular hardware providers launched mobile apps and began supporting mobile cryptocurrency management over Bluetooth and USB (typically through an OTG cable).
Nowadays, users can use their Ledger, Trezor, and KeepKey wallets with their mobile devices and the correct associated wallet app. Several more recent devices, including the Ledger Nano X, Trezor Model T, and CoolWallet S can be connected by Bluetooth, letting users manage their portfolio wirelessly.
Although hardware wallets are arguably the most secure way to store cryptocurrencies, this security can come at a steep cost, literally — since most hardware wallets don’t come cheap. For the latest generation of hardware wallets with Bluetooth and the widest support for cryptocurrencies, you’re looking at somewhere in the region of $120.
But for those with a substantial cryptocurrency portfolio, where security is of maximum importance, the cost of a hardware wallet could be a small price to pay for peace of mind. Those with smaller portfolios, on the other hand, will likely be served just as well by the Coin Wallet + YubiKey setup.
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