A hardware wallet is a physical electronic device, built for the sole purpose of securing cryptocurrencies. It is a small, portable device that stores your private keys and digital currency offline so it cannot be hacked. This type of wallet provides much more security than an online cryptocurrency exchange or a desktop/browser wallet. It can be easily connected to any computer or phone via USB to check balances and send payments. Hardware Wallets have become essential in the blockchain ecosystem. They not only provide impressive security, but also utility when interacting with different blockchains.
Your assets, be it tokens or cryptocurrencies, reside on the blockchain itself. The hardware wallet stores your private keys which allow you to unlock your public address on the blockchain to access your possessions. Your public address can be shared with others in order to receive crypto and other tokens whereas your private keys remain secure and stored within the hardware wallet.
Hardware wallets offer many layers of security. For one, they keep your private keys offline which means you cannot be exposed to online hacks and phishing schemes. By virtue of keeping your private keys offline, the wallet secures you from falling victim to unauthorized transactions. This is because any transaction on the blockchain requires a cryptographic signature which is associated with the private keys. By keeping the private keys secured offline, no one can transact on the blockchain posing to be you. Lastly, the wallet itself requires multiple factor authentication to be accessed. Should you loose your physical hardware wallet, no one can access the private keys stored within without a PIN and/or a passphrase. You also possess a seed phrase which can be used to re-generate your private keys and move them to a different wallet. So your private keys and therefore your assets, are always safe.
A hardware wallet basically provides you the means to store your cryptocurrency and other tokens safe and secure by storing your private keys offline on a physical portable device. Though they are pricey compared to software wallets and other online alternatives to store your crypto assets, they offer a peace of mind which has no substitute.