Storing Your Funds on a Hardware Wallet Using the New Helium Wallet App

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This article only applies to storing Helium cryptocurrencies - HNT, MOBILE, IOT, etc. Hotspots are not able to be owned by hardware based Helium wallets at this time.

What is a crypto wallet?

To put things in simple terms, your cryptocurrency wallet is essentially a combination of your public and private keys. The public key identifies you on the blockchain and allows you to find your balance and tell others where to send funds to when they want to pay you. Your private key is like the password to your wallet. Whoever has the private key that goes with your public key (wallet address) can do as they please with the wallet - see your transaction history, send all the funds to another wallet, etc. 

It's incredibly important to secure your private key so no one else but you has access to it! Typically, wallets will give you the private key in the form of a 12, 24, or 25 word seed phrase in order to make it human readable. Your 256-bit private key will be translated into a set of English language words which represent the same information but are much easier to handle for humans.

Example of a private key:

5Kb8kLf9zgWQnogidDA76MzPL6
TsZZY36hWXMssSzNydYXYB9KF

Example of a seed phrase:

1. this  2. is 3. the 4. seed
5. phrase 6. to 7. restore 8. your
9. wallet 10. if  11. you 12. need

The problem with securing your private key is that the wallet software you're using to send and receive your funds needs to be able to access your private key in order to sign the transactions on your behalf. Think of it like using PayPal to pay for an item online, you need to have entered your bank account or credit card information into PayPal in order for PayPal to be able to make a payment on your behalf and withdraw it from the linked account. 

If you create a new wallet inside of the wallet software you're using, this generally isn't an issue as it already knows the private key and gives it to you in the form of the seed phrase. However, this becomes more of a security problem if you need to use this wallet with a different wallet software or if you need to re-load the wallet into the same software (say for instance your phone is lost or broken so you need to re-download the wallet app again and import your seed). In order to do this, you will need to type your seed phrase into the wallet software to load the private key.

Why is this an issue? Any time you expose your seed phrase/private key on an internet connected device, you open yourself up to a chance of it being captured by a malicious actor - hackers can install keyloggers on your machine which can record seed words you type, they can perform man-in-the-middle attacks to capture your traffic and analyze it, or a myriad of other hacks can occur.

The solution to these security risks is to use a trusted, genuine hardware wallet (sometimes referred to as a cold storage wallet). The two most well known and reputable brands are Ledger and Trezor.

Why should you consider storing your crypto on a hardware wallet?

Hardware wallets help to mitigate some of these potential risks by storing your private keys on the hardware wallet device itself, and never exposing it to another device or to the internet. Compatible wallet programs will send transactions over to the hardware wallet to be signed and the signed transaction data will be sent back to the wallet program, rather than the wallet program controlling your private key and doing the signing itself. This way, the private key that was created on the hardware wallet device never needs to be exposed to any other devices or programs and the possibility of a bad actor gaining access to your private key is greatly reduced.

Considerations for using a hardware wallet

An important note regarding the use of hardware wallets with Helium: hardware wallets will only store your funds, NOT your hotspots. Do not transfer your hotspots to your new hardware wallet enabled Helium address! In order to manage your hotspots and update them or transfer ownership, you need to manage them from the Helium Hotspot App which only supports import of 12-word seed phrases. The Helium Wallet App which works with hardware wallets uses 24-word seed phrases which will not import into the Hotspot app thus you will not be able to manage your hotspots. This also defeats the purpose of using a hardware wallet as you would need to enter your seed phrase into the Hotspot app!

When you set up a hardware wallet, you will be given the private key in the form of a seed phrase to record and store in case your hardware wallet is ever lost or damaged and unusable and you need to recover your funds. In order to not defeat some of the security features of the hardware wallet, it is recommended that you write down the seed phrase manually and store it securely and never enter it anywhere digitally - including taking pictures of it, typing it into your phone or computer, etc. It is also imperative that you NEVER provide your seed phrase to anyone else - as soon as you give anyone your seed phrase they will have immediate unrestricted access to your funds and can drain your wallet of everything and transfer it to their own!

There is only one situation in which you would be asked for your seed phrase by a Bobcat Miner 
employee - if you are required to return a defective miner to us which has not performed PoC
activity recently. This is due to the fact that Helium does not allow for hotspot ownership
to be transferred to another wallet if a miner has not performed PoC activity in the last
20 hours in order to protect community members from being sold a defective miner.

In these instances, we will advise you to create a new Helium wallet and transfer all funds
and any other hotspots to that new wallet so the only thing remaining in the old wallet would
be the defective hotspot. You could then provide us the seed phrase to the wallet owning the
defective hotspot without risking losing any funds or ownership of other devices.

If you are asked for your seed phrase by anyone outside of this one specific circumstance, or
are asked for your seed phrase unprovoked (you did not submit a help ticket to us and have
your miner deemed defective) assume the individual is acting in bad faith and do not provide
them with any information!

Anyone sending you a private message offering support for your miners or Helium app and
asking for your seed phrase in order to help is acting in bad faith and will steal funds
if provided your seed phrase! If there is any doubt of the legitimacy of someone claiming
to be a Bobcat Miner employee, please submit a ticket here so we can advise you properly.

Best practices dictate if you lose or damage your hardware wallet and need to recover using your seed phrase, you should purchase a new hardware wallet, set up a brand new wallet and record the new seed phrase, and then load your old seed phrase into a wallet and immediately send the funds from that wallet to your newly created wallet. This is because by entering your seed phrase to recover the funds you have potentially exposed it to bad actors (which is what a hardware wallet is intended to prevent) and that wallet should now be considered compromised.

What is required to store your Helium funds on a hardware wallet

You must first purchase a hardware wallet compatible with HNT. At the time of writing, only the Trezor Nano X and Trezor Nano S support HNT.

If you wish to use your hardware wallet on a mobile device, you will need to download the official Helium Wallet App from the Google Play Store / Apple App Store. The older Helium Hotspot App is not compatible with hardware wallets, you must use the Helium Wallet App to create the hardware based wallet.

You will also need a PC or laptop on which to install the Ledger Live program which will be needed to install the Helium application on your Ledger device (this cannot be installed with the Mobile version of Ledger Live).

If you wish to be able to manage your Helium hardware wallet from your PC or laptop, you can follow this guide from Helium to install the Helium Wallet CLI program and set it up with your hardware wallet.

If you wish to be able to use your Helium hardware wallet on mobile, proceed with the steps listed in the next section. You can use the Helium hardware wallet with both PC/laptop and mobile device if you wish, you will simply follow both sets of steps but will only need to enable Developer mode and install the Helium application to your Ledger device once.

How to set up a hardware wallet for your Helium funds on a mobile device

These setup instructions were created using a Ledger Nano X but should be the same for the Ledger Nano S.

Note: Screenshots of steps taken inside the Helium Wallet App are not included as the app's security policy does not allow for screenshots or screen recordings.

Once you have your Ledger device, follow the setup instructions to create your hardware wallet. To enable Helium support on your Ledger, connect your Ledger to your computer and open the Ledger Live program. Navigate to Options (cogwheel on the top right), go to the Experimental Features tab, and toggle to enable Developer Mode.

1-DeveloperMode.jpg

Go to Manager on the bottom of the left side pane, select App Catalog, search for Helium (HNT), and click Install.

2-LedgerManager.jpg

3-HeliumApplication.jpg

Once the Helium application has been installed to your Ledger device, close Ledger Live and disconnect your Ledger device from the computer.

Note: Ensure the Ledger Live app is closed down on your mobile phone - force close if needed. If the Ledger Live app is running, it can take priority over the Helium Wallet App and interfere with the wallet app pairing with your Ledger device.

Unlock your Ledger device with the PIN code and go to the Helium application and launch it.

4-LedgerHelium.jpg

Once launched, you should see "Waiting for commands..."

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On your mobile device, open the Helium Wallet App and choose Ledger from the Import/Ledger/New menu. If you have existing wallets in the app, swipe left on your wallets until you reach the Import/Ledger/New menu and then select Ledger. Tap "Pair with Ledger"

Choose how the device connects, via Bluetooth or Cable, then select your Ledger device from the list to pair it with the Helium Wallet App.

In the Helium Wallet App, you should see a screen showing "Account found", compare the address shown in the Helium Wallet App with the address shown on the screen of your Ledger device. If it matches, tap Import Account.

Confirm the address on your Ledger device, it will then go back to showing "Waiting for commands..."

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5-WaitingforCommands.jpg

Tap the View Account button in the Helium Wallet App to be brought to your new hardware wallet account. You will now see the new account titled Ledger Account listed among any other accounts you have in the app.

You can now power off your Ledger device. Congrats, you're all set!

How to send and receive funds with your hardware wallet on a mobile device

Receiving Funds

Once your Helium hardware wallet is imported to the Helium Wallet App, simply go to the Ledger Account and select "Receive" to get your payment link or QR code. There is no need to have the Ledger device paired with your Helium Wallet app to accept payments!

Sending Funds

In order to send funds from the Helium hardware wallet, you must pair the Helium Wallet App with your Ledger device. Turn on the Ledger device, enter your PIN to unlock it, and launch the Helium application. You should then see "Waiting for commands..."

4-LedgerHelium.jpg

5-WaitingforCommands.jpg

In the Helium Wallet App, go to Ledger Account, tap "Send" and enter the Helium address to send to, amount to send, memo (if applicable), and tap the "Pay" button. You will see a Ledger Approval screen. On your Ledger device, verify the amount, recipient address, memo (if applicable), DC fee, and select "Sign Transaction? YES" if the transaction looks good. If there are any issues or you are unsure, select "Sign Transaction? NO" instead to cancel the transaction and re-verify details.

7-Amount.jpg

8-RecipientAddress.jpg

10-DCFee.jpg

9-Memo.jpg

11-SignYes.jpg

12-SignNo.jpg

Go back to the Helium Wallet App and swipe right on "Swipe to Send" Your transaction is now sent and pending blockchain validation!

Note: If you are on the Ledger Approval screen and receive a "Timeout Error - Device X:X:X:X is not connected" this indicates your Ledger device is not connected to the Helium Wallet App. Ensure your Ledger device is unlocked and you have launched the Helium Application and are seeing "Waiting for commands..." and try again.

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