The worst places to keep your crypto wallet seed

The worst places to keep your crypto wallet seed
The worst places to keep your crypto wallet seed

Under the mattress, in the seams of a piece of luggage or even rolled into a cigar, what are the worst and best ways to keep a seed set safe? The key to unlock and recover cryptocurrency, a seed, should be secured and safe.

Especially now that prices are low and the crypto tourists have checked out, it may be time for a spring cleaning with crypto security. Security starts with a seed phrase, sometimes called a recovery phrase.

There’s no denying it: Bitcoin and the crypto market are in the grips of a bear market. Since Do Kwon’s Terra experiment went up in smoke, a crypto contagion has choked the most reputable exchanges, prompting many advocates of self-sovereignty to chant “not your keys, not your coins.”

In fact, hardly a day goes by before another “reliable” crypto lender freezes customer withdrawals. From Singapore’s cryptolender Vauld to Thailand’s 200,000-customer crypto exchange Zipmex to the world-renowned Celsius exchange, many centralized lending platforms have suffered similar fates, ensuring heartbreaking consequences for customers in 2022.

These circumstances are timely reminders to look after your own keys and to ensure they are in a safe place. So while prices are low and trust in centralized exchanges (places that claim to care for crypto) is also hitting rock bottom, there is no better time to increase the security of one’s crypto assets.

Seed sets save lives

A seed phrase, sometimes called a private key, is a list of 12 or 24 words that form a mnemonic phrase. Metaphorically speaking, a hardware wallet, or cold wallet, contains these keys that provide a convenient way to send or “sign” money.

If taken care of well, a seed can save lives, as Alex Gladstein, a human rights activist and chief strategy officer at the Human Rights Foundation, often says. For example, if an intruder steals a hardware wallet but not the seed phrase, there is no critical issue – the seed phrase can be used with a new wallet. If a government or bad actor forces you to flee, those 12 or 24 words can be used anywhere in the world to access Bitcoin (BTC) or crypto funds.

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Goldbug and Bitcoin skeptic Peter Schiff once confused his seed phrase and mistook it for his PIN. That is the first mistake to avoid. Now, here are some other examples of where not to store a seed set.

Open secrets

The couple in possession of the Bitfinex billions in Bitcoin, who stored the seed phrase in their cloud storage account, take the first prize. As Cointelegraph reported, cybercriminal Heather Morgan and her cybersecurity specialist husband, Ilya Lichtenstein, stored their seed phrase in a cloud storage account. As such, the FBI only had to crack their iCloud password to access over $4 billion in BTC at the time of reporting. The lesson here is don’t store your la seeding on the internet. That means your Evernote notes, in a draft email or even in a low-engagement tweet:

Similarly, as Cointelegraph reported, one should never type a seed phrase into a phone. Why? Because, as one Redditor realized, smartphone text prediction could actually guess a seed sentence. Text prediction, while sometimes useful for difficult spelling or emojis, is counterproductive when it comes to protecting personal wealth.

Although it sounds appropriate, a refrigerator is also not the ideal place for “cold” storage of cryptocurrencies. A Bitcoin enthusiast black, “Fridge,” to the question “where is the weirdest place to store a seed phrase?” without explaining whether the seed set should be stored in or on top of the fridge. As it turns out, a non-fungible token (NFT) fan had already stored a seed on the fridge:

Cointelegraph’s editor-in-chief, Kristina Lucrezia Cornèr, suggests that the worst place for a seed phrase to store is in bad memory. In fact, unlike dates of historic battles, car keys, or names of acquaintances from life passages, a seed phrase should be wholeheartedly committed to memory.

Among the more creative, yet memory-depleting methods are memorization “pages, lines and words from favorite books,” which for a Bitcoiner means storage the seed sentence on pages 100 to 112 of a Harry Potter text. Which of the eight or more Harry Potter books is anyone’s guess. Fortunately, there are now smart ways to remember a seed sentence. MTC, a Bitcoin teacher who invented the Sats Leger savings device, created a way to memorize a seed sentence in just 10 seconds through patterns.

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Play it safe

But what do the experts have to say about seed sets? Chris Brooks, founder of cryptocurrency recovery business Crypto Asset Recovery, told Cointelegraph that in his experience, human error can wipe out wealth. People should be more concerned about leaving their seed phrase or private keys in paper wallets that can be mistakenly thrown away rather than hackers or scammers. Brooks explained:

“You have a far greater chance of moving to a new apartment and losing your crypto password in the process than you do of getting hacked.”

The Brooks family behind Crypto Asset Recovery ran a “seasonal business”, as in every bull market, say in 2017 and 2021, crypto crackers are called upon by crypto enthusiasts who have forgotten their passwords or lost their seed phrases. At one point in 2021, they told Cointelegraph that they had up to 150 customer calls in a day. Their one big piece of advice for managing seed sets is to keep it simple:

“So in general, our security tips are pretty basic. Get a $30 safe from Amazon, or you know, build a little wooden box that’s easily identifiable as a place for secure documents, and just store your seed sentences in there.”

They suggest putting something important in that box. That way, when “you’re doing spring cleaning or when you’re moving house, you’re not going to throw it out. You’re not going to be shredding the paper or anything like that.”

Related: NFT, DeFi and Crypto Hacks Abound — How to Double Your Wallet Security

But because it’s crypto, those of the physical persuasion might be more inspired to store their seeds in some even more creative storage boxes. Bitcoin advocate, onthebrinkie 3D printed an adult toy suitable for an OpenDime (like a USB key for Bitcoin) or a seed set to be hidden away. The inspiring idea is that if an intruder breaks in, they can steal the wooden box full of important documents, but no one in their right mind would steal a sex toy.

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