Is Bitcoin safe?
However, if you have been following this Bitcoin guide , you will know that there is a way to access foreign bitcoins: by subtracting credentials or private keys. That is, what we know as a private key . However, this is not new to any transaction system, online purchases or any type of service. This obstacle has always existed since the creation of the Internet and even much earlier: If I do not protect my credentials or tell someone my password, they can illegally access my bank account, Paypal, email, Bitcoin or whatever. Nothing new under the sun.
And since this risk is not really new, it means that the practices to protect and secure my bitcoins are the same that we use to protect other personal data. Practices of which surely we are already conscious and we are already applying. Here are some very simple:
- Do not show anyone your private key.
In general, the private key is saved and protected by the Bitcoin application you use. However, it is also possible to export it to, for example, use it in another application and even, if necessary, write it on a piece of paper. If at any time you suspect that someone could have obtained it, you only need to generate another address (they are free and unlimited) and send your bitcoins to the new address.
- Use a long password
When you use the option to encrypt your Bitcoin wallet, be sure to use a long password. Nothing of “12345”. If this technology can make the Bitcoin system impassable, it can also make your Bitcoin wallet unbreakable if you do not use a short or easily guessable password. The real world is not a movie or a chapter of CSI: when on television you see that they try to “crack a password” it is pure fiction because in reality it is impossible to do it without guessing the password. If you use a long password, formed by several words or even better a whole phrase that is easily memorable for you, you will be sure that nobody will be able to decipher the portfolio. Never less than 10 characters!
Also try to use numbers, capital letters and symbols if you can but do not use random combinations that can be easily forgotten. Your password should be memorable for you and the longer the better.
- Use the encryption function of your Bitcoin applications.
We have said that a good Bitcoin application saves and protects the private key inside it. However, this is not mandatory and many applications allow you to save private keys without protecting them by password if you wish. It is assumed that if you do, you have a good reason for it. However, for most people it is extremely advisable to always have that function activated.
- Do not use online portfolios that you do not trust.
If instead of using an offline application installed on your computer, you decide to use an online Bitcoin wallet, remember that it is possible that the owner of the page has access to your private keys. If you do not trust the owner or believe that your page does not incorporate good security measures, better not use that page. You must value very well to whom you entrust your private keys.
- Keep your computer clean of viruses, spyware, trojans or keyloggers (capture keys).
If your computer is infected, do not worry, it can happen. Since you’ve probably numbered your wallet, no matter how hard a taker gets a copy of your file where private keys are stored, she can not do anything. Remember that this is not a movie and it is impossible to decipher your passwords if you used a good password. Clean your computer, relax, and enjoy thinking about how they will be pulling your hair when you can not access your keys. Even so, an infected computer is still a very high risk, because it is possible that they spy on you while you put your password and get it that way. Therefore, it is your top priority to keep your equipment safe and up to date. If you suspect that there might have been a breach of any kind,
Loss of the keys, a security problem.
We have talked about how to protect our private keys against a possible theft attempt. But there is another very important risk that you should consider: the loss.
Normally there is no need to worry because these keys are stored comfortably inside the Bitcoin application that we use. However, this does not mean that one day our hard drive could be formatted, stop working, etc. Before throwing your hands to your head and stop reading, I will say that this is a problem that has an easy solution and you should not worry too much.
- Make a backup.
In all cases, use the Bitcoin application that you use, it is advisable to make a backup copy of your wallet. A good program always allows you to export the wallet (and all its keys) to a file and that you should keep a safe place. For example, buy a USB pendrive that you will only use for this purpose. Save the backup copy of your wallet there and then save the pendrive in a drawer or other reliable place.
- Bitcoin applications such as Electrum have a recovery system.
When you start Electrum for the first time, it will give you 12 random words. These words are the seed that will be used to generate your keys. If at some point you lose access to your wallet, you just have to open Electrum and write those 12 words again to regain access to all your addresses. Since they are simple words, they can be memorized and do not attract attention if you write them down on a piece of paper or somewhere else.
- Do not lose or forget your password.
Since we do not live in a CSI chapter, if you lose your own passphrase you will not be able to access your own addresses. Therefore it is important that the pass phrase be memorable. Remember that it is much more important that it be long than not random. A long password like “Horse Lettuce Automobile tomorrow” is much more secure than “5X & axr”. Of course, if you can include some symbols and numbers, much better.
The only exception to this is if you use Electrum, because you can recover your wallet with the 12 words even if you forget the password.
With Bitcoin you can be your own “bank” and save your money safely and reliably. You do not depend on strangers or doubtful institutions and you will always have access to that money. In return you must be responsible and protect what belongs to you.