A cryptocurrency seed phrase sounds like one of the more confusing aspects of crypto security. But understanding what a seed phrase is, why it’s important, and how to keep it safe remains one of the most important aspects of keeping digital assets safe.
Upon setup, any crypto wallet will generate a seed phrase, also known as a recovery phrase, for the user. This string of simple words functions as the ‘master password’ of the cryptocurrency wallet. Seed phrases are 12-24 words long and use simple words like ‘opera’ or ‘energy.’
The reason for a 12 to 24 word long seed phrase is that a list of words is easier for humans to remember and transcribe correctly than a long list of randomized numbers and characters.
How Important is Seed Phrase Security?
Proper crypto seed storage is important because anyone with a seed phrase can gain access to a crypto wallet and steal the coins. A holder who deletes or loses their wallet will be unable to regain access if they did not save and properly note down their seed phrase in the correct order.
Unsurprisingly, hackers and thieves have been working hard to figure out ways to break through crypto seed phrase storage methods to gain access to the important phrase.
In 2020, developer John Cantrell was able to use eight words out of a 12-word seed phrase to successfully guess the rest of the phrase and unlock a crypto wallet. Cantrell responded to a challenge by Alistar Milne on Twitter, who published hints to a 12-word seed phrase with a wallet containing one Bitcoin.
According to Cantrell, he relied on cloud computing infrastructure to test more than one trillion combinations with the eight words he knew until he found the right sequence to unlock the wallet.
As popularity in cryptocurrency continues to rise it becomes more and more important to identify things like Bitcoin security issues in order to take preventative measures before hackers have a chance to steal your cryptocurrency.
Keeping Your Crypto Seed Phrase Safe Is A Must In A Digital World
While Cantrell did write in June 2020 he planned to “pay-it-forward” after publishing an article detailing his strategy, the story underscores the importance of keeping a seed phrase secure and out of sight.
The importance of the seed phrase leads many to wonder about how they can practice good cryptocurrency security with seed phrase storage. There’s a few important things to keep in mind when it comes to protecting your seed phrase.
How to Protect your Seed Phrases
It’s vitally important to always store the seed phrase separate from your crypto wallet.
It’s also critical to never store your seed phrase on your computer, phone, or anything with Internet access. One method of protecting your passwords is to utilize a crypto recovery phrase keeper, like the Shieldfolio Stonebook, to keep track of your seed phrases without connecting to the internet.
Cipher Blade writes how “In the vast majority of cryptocurrency thefts, a breach of the victim’s cloud storage is almost always involved.” They note how many people store seed phrases on the cloud or even a photo of the seed phrase that gets backed up to cloud storage.
Cipher Blade also explains how thieves can rely on an array of tools, like screen capture malware, keyloggers, and clipboard hijacking to figure out a user’s seed phrase and then steal coins.
The potential for digital theft of seed phrases is why many wallet manufacturers encourage users to note their seed phrase on a piece of paper and ensure it’s documented in the correct order. Some hardware wallet manufacturers even ship wallets with specific lined cards where users can easily jot down their seed phrase.
Physical Theft Of Seed Phrases Might Be Rare, But Good Security Standards Are Still Important
While some might worry writing their seed phrase on a piece of paper might be insecure, Cipher Blade again writes how it’s “actually fairly uncommon” for physical theft of seed phrases to occur. Still, prudent physical seed phrase storage includes being smart about how and where the phrase is stored.
Some choose to invest in a wall safe or at least hide the paper in a random location inside a locking file cabinet or storage box. Others might arrange to store their phrase at an outside location like a bank lockbox, but this option does make it harder to access if needed quickly.
While many people might just be comfortable writing their seed phrase on pen and paper, there are tools available that offer extra protection for seed phrases and other passwords stored offline. One is the Shieldfolio Stonebook, a water and tear-resistant offline notebook that makes it easy to write and store seed phrases, private keys, usernames, and other important notes.
The artisan-grade stone paper pages make it easy to write with any ballpoint pen and also features Shieldcrypt, which conceals critical characters of a private key so thieves are still thwarted even if they somehow got their hands on a Stonebook.
The Stonebook also works hand-in-hand with Shiedfolio’s Ghost Pen, a waterproof invisible ink marker that adds an extra layer of security by making it impossible to read written text without a UV light (which is built-in to each pen). A thief flipping through the pages would just see blank spaces unless they happened to have a UV light on hand. Combining the use of the Stonebook and the Ghost Pen is one of the best ways to protect your bitcoin from hackers.
What if I Lose my Seed Phrase?
It is not possible to regain access to a wallet without the seed phrase. Not to be confused with being an actual backup in case you lose your seed phrase, recovery seed phrase, mnemonic seed phrase, mnemonic seed, seed phrase, backup seed, etc all refer to the 12 to 24 word long “seed phrase.”
Optimize your cryptocurrency private key security and ensure your coins are safe from hackers, thieves, and other intrusive eyes. Visit Shieldfolio’s website to purchase a Stonebook and Ghost Pen and ensure your 12 word seed phrase is secure.