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What are Ledger Applications and Why do I Need Them?

Leer 4 min
Beginner
Ledger devices on a podium
KEY TAKEAWAYS:
— Applications on your Ledger device calculate the Private Keys for your crypto assets.

— They are also used for verifying transactions and receiving addresses.

— Ledger apps cannot interact with one another for optimal security.

— If you uninstall and reinstall an app, you won’t lose your crypto – it will give you access to the same addresses.

Ledger hardware wallets use applications to manage your cryptocurrencies. These can be installed onto your device through Ledger Live’s Manager. But why do we use apps for the Ledger Nano X and Ledger Nano S? What is their purpose? Let’s take a closer look.

Applications on Ledger devices play a vital role in managing your crypto assets – for each cryptocurrency, there’s a dedicated app. These apps can be installed onto your hardware wallet by connecting it to Ledger Live.

So what do these apps do? To summarize it shortly, the app on your hardware wallet calculates private keys based on your 24-word recovery phrase and are used to verify receiving addresses and transactions. While we want to give you some more insight into this process, we also want to explain a bit more as to why we use an application-based system.

The creation of your private keys

Your 24-word recovery phrase is a backup of all your crypto assets – which must be stored securely. Each individual cryptocurrency address is managed by a Private Key. While the 24 words can grant access to all your crypto accounts, each Private Key only does so for one specific crypto asset address.

Designed for optimal security, your apps do not have access to the recovery phrase. Instead, it sends a request to calculate the Private Keys from your 24 words, based on a specific parameter called a derivation path. The derivation path is unique for each crypto asset. After having satisfied necessary security checks, the app will receive a reply with the Private Keys. All of this takes place in the Secure Element chip of course, to make sure that these sensitive operations remain secure.

Great! You now have the Private Keys of your desired cryptocurrency on your hardware wallet! The application can then derive your Public Keys from it. These are also better known as your addresses. This is where anyone can send cryptocurrencies to you.

We’ve made the following diagram to summarize this process:

Ledger Private Keys Derivation

So why do I still need my applications after this?

Your Private Keys are still very important afterwards – they are needed for verifying your receiving address and transactions. Without using your private keys, you cannot perform either of these actions. Let’s take a look at how this works:

  1. You’re trying to make a Bitcoin transaction, for which you need your Bitcoin Private Key to sign (i.e. give the approval for) the transaction. After determining how much Bitcoin you want to send to a certain address, your wallet application will send a signature request to your Ledger hardware wallet.
  2. Your Ledger device will then show you what exact request was made by the wallet application on its screen so that you can verify if it indeed matches the transaction you’ve set up. This mitigates a so-called man-in-the-middle attack.
  3. After having verified and approved the transaction, the application on your Ledger device will create the correct signature by using the Private Keys and send this back to the wallet application.
  4. After this, the wallet application will broadcast the transaction to the blockchain – your transaction is completed!

Pero, ¿no pueden las aplicaciones interactuar entre sí?

No, no pueden. Ledger ha decidido utilizar aplicaciones individuales para cada criptodivisa. Es por razones de seguridad y para permitir los desarrollos de terceros (encontrarás más información al respecto más adelante).

En lo que se refiere a la seguridad, el objetivo es garantizar que si hay un problema con una aplicación de criptodivisa, éste no llegue nunca a afectar a ningún otro activo cripto. Este principio se aplica mediante el sistema operativo personalizado BOLOS, diseñado y desarrollado por Ledger.

Ledger no solamente es el único proveedor de billeteras de hardware que ha creado su propio sistema operativo, sino que también es uno de los pocos que utilizan un sistema de aplicaciones. Otras billeteras de hardware utilizan lo que se conoce como un firmware monolítico. En estos casos, si surge un problema con el código de una criptodivisa, puede afectar a todas las demás.

Desarrollo de terceros

Dado que las aplicaciones están separadas unas de otras y no pueden interactuar entre sí, podemos permitir que personas ajenas a Ledger desarrollen también sus propias aplicaciones. Hemos publicado más de 40 aplicaciones creadas por miembros y desarrolladores de la comunidad cripto, por las que estamos enormemente agradecidos.

Naturalmente, las revisamos para asegurarnos de que cumplen con los más altos estándares de experiencia de usuario y seguridad. You can read more about the process of submitting an application to us here.

¿Desaparecerán mis cripto si desinstalo una aplicación?

No tienes de qué preocuparte, seguirás teniendo acceso a tus cripto. Como hemos mencionado al comienzo de este artículo, tu dispositivo Ledger calcula tus claves privadas a partir de tu Frase de recuperación de 24 Palabras en función de un parámetro específico llamado ruta de derivación.

Eso significa que, mientras la Frase de recuperación del dispositivo sea la misma, el cálculo tendrá el mismo resultado. Por tanto, cuando vuelvas a instalar la aplicación, esta te dará acceso a las mismas direcciones que antes.

Sigue aprendiendo Si disfrutas familiarizándote con las cripto y la cadena de bloques, echa un vistazo a nuestro vídeo de School of Block. Cómo proteger tus cripto.


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