NGRAVE uses QR codes to keep its hardware wallet 100% offline
NGRAVE incorporates the benefits of intuitive modern day transaction technology with the extreme security of a fully offline, air gapped device.
The full potential of electronic devices can only be achieved when they talk to each other and go online. The exchange of data between smartphones, tablets, hardware wallets, point-of-sale (POS) terminals, and other tools is what gave birth to contactless payments, smart homes, location-based advertising, and other innovative services.
And connectivity solutions such as radio-frequency identification (RFID), Bluetooth, 4G, and USB are at the centre of this revolution. Their importance grows with each new device that hits the market. But although they are useful in many ways, these technologies are also vulnerable to hacking, which is why companies are always on the lookout for safer alternatives.
QR codes are used in many different ways
That’s one of the reasons why the use of the Quick Response (QR) codes is growing. Invented in 1994, this technology stores data in a square grid using patterns of dark dots and white spaces. The patterns can then be scanned by a smartphone camera or a scanner and converted into human-readable format. QR codes can store different types of data, including text, e-mail addresses, URLs, credit card details, bank accounts, user credentials, passwords, and more. And if you just want to store alphanumeric characters, a single QR code can hold up to 4,000 characters.
This tech is used in various scenarios, ranging from online ads and billboards to inventory tags and business cards. Some companies also use it as a Wifi network authentication method. Users scan a QR code with their smartphone and join the network automatically. Facebook’s WhatsApp also uses QR codes. Users that want to send messages using WhatsApp Desktop have to open the QR scanner within their WhatsApp mobile app and scan the QR code generated on the app’s website. There’s no other way of logging into WhatsApp on your desktop, which shows just how much Facebook depends on QR technology.
QR code-based payments are growing in popularity
One of the most widespread uses of QR codes, however, is in the mobile payments industry. In 2018, for instance, the transaction value of QR codes-based mobile payments in China alone exceeded $3 trillion. Alipay and WeChat, the two most popular mobile payment apps in China, both use QR codes to authorise transactions. Jack Ma, the co-founder of Alibaba Group that established Alipay, says that the app is yet to “lose one cent to hackers” despite being under hundreds of millions of cyber-attacks every day. QR codes are growing in popularity in other countries as well and they’re bound to play an important role in the global mobile payment market that boasts more than two billion smartphone wallet users. Apple iOS 13’s stealth QR Code reader update and Pixel’s ability to scan QR Codes without Google Lens are clearly an indicator of the continuing rise of the technology.
Alipay, which processes $50 billion of transactions each day, has yet to lose “one cent” to hackers.
— Jack Ma, Alibaba Group Founder
NGRAVE’s take on the QR code tech
Jack Ma’s companies might not have fallen victims to hacks but there are legitimate QR-related security concerns nonetheless. The issue is not with the QR code tech itself though, but rather with the way hackers use it to defraud unsuspecting victims. For instance, they lure people into scanning codes that open sites that either automatically download malware or masquerade as legitimate payment platforms designed to steal bank card details.
These issues notwithstanding, QR codes remain one of the safest connectivity technologies on the market. They are also widely acknowledged to be the safest communication method in the blockchain industry. A good reference is the “Glacier Protocol”, a known security standard for handling bitcoin.
NGRAVE integrates QR-code technology to enable fully “air-gapped” interactions between the company’s hardware wallet NGRAVE ZERO and mobile app NGRAVE LIQUID. The way this setup works is that users first create a cryptocurrency transaction request on the app. This prompts the software to generate the QR code that needs to be scanned with the ZERO, and users will then have to verify and sign the transaction request on the device. Following this, the wallet generates a signature that needs to be scanned with the app, which finally sends the transaction to the blockchain. As such, the communication protocol never needs a USB or direct network connection such as 4G, Wifi, Bluetooth or other.
NGRAVE overcomes the security vulnerabilities of QR codes by having users verify the transaction details generated by the Liquid mobile app. Also, QR codes created by the ZERO are immutable and can’t be changed by hackers in any way. This method enables the ZERO to stay forever offline and yet communicate with the outside world in a safe and protected way. The QR code technology thus acts as a shield that prevents hackers from breaking into the wallet and stealing users’ private keys.
How NGRAVE can integrate easily with your favorite exchange or software wallet
NGRAVE’s hardware wallet NGRAVE ZERO has been designed to easily integrate with any third party transactions platform, be it your favorite crypto exchange (eg. Coinbase), browser extension wallet (eg. MetaMask), mobile app, and beyond. NGRAVE provides the relevant code to cater for the full integration, and users can keep using their favorite online solution with NGRAVE’s extreme security built right in.
Ensuring that the crypto industry achieves its full potential
QR code technology has been around for more than two decades. It’s proven its robustness in the face of ever-growing security threats, and hundreds of millions of people intuitively know how to handle the famed 2D codes. NGRAVE is not the first to air gap its hardware wallet, but the security of the ZERO is unparalleled, with the highest attainable EAL security certification in the world: EAL7. Integrating extreme security in every step of the customer journey, NGRAVE has positioned itself at the forefront of efforts to protect cryptocurrencies from criminals and ensure that the blockchain industry can achieve its full potential.
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