A Bitcoin wallet is the combination of a public address and a private key. In the past we’ve talked about different kinds of Bitcoin wallets. Hot wallets which are connected to the Internet, mobile wallets which are installed on your mobile phone and cold storage wallets like paper wallets or TREZOR. Today I want to add a new type of wallet – Brain wallets.
The basic idea of a brain wallet is that your private key is memorized by heart and not written down anywhere. Using this method the only way someone can gain access to your Bitcoins is by forcing you personally to tell them your private key. This of course is a much more secure way to store Bitcoins but also not very user friendly.
Private keys are very long strings of numbers without any meaning – so how can someone remember such a long mashup of letters ?
Fortunately you don’t need to remember random letters, you can just use what is known as a passphrase. A passphrase is a sentence (usually 8 words or more) that can then mathematically be changed into a private key.
The passphrase needs to be an entire original sentence that does not appear in any song or literature. Security is enhanced simply by including some sort of memorable personal information, which doesn’t necessarily even have to be secret (like an e-mail address, or phone number). A good brain wallet passphrase will have dozens of characters.
Here’s An example of a decent passphrase formula:[your mother’s birthday multiplied by your favorite number]+ [every other word of some obscure phrase that holds special meaning to you]+ [your home phone number when you were a kid]+[the first 5 words of your best freshman year english paper, ASSUMING IT ISN’T SEARCHABLE ONLINE]
Extraneous characters such as commas and broken grammar can make the passphrase harder to figure out.
Once you have your passphrase memorized you can use programs like Brainwallet.org to create your private key and public address from it. When doing so make sure that your computer is not connected to the Internet and that you are using private browsing so that no one will be able to steal you passphrase.
In order to use your newly created brain wallet you will need to import your private key into your Bitcoin client.
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