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Gone are the days of lost bitcoin keys and stolen word lists. With “BIP39Colors” the seed phrase can be hidden in a rainbow. The open-source tool converts the BIP39 mnemonic phrase into different colors and vice versa. But beware: Using it is dangerous – some prior knowledge is required.
Seed Phrase: Colors instead of words
The tool addresses a common problem: nowadays, many wallet providers encourage their users to write the seed phrase on a piece of paper. For crypto-savvy thieves, such lists are a godsend. Colors, on the other hand, are everywhere – the seed phrase could be hidden in plain sight. At least that’s what the Bitcoin developer has Entero Positivo with his invention in mind:
A 12-word piece of paper is more suspicious than a color palette that says ‘My new home wall colors’.
The technology inspires. You could use this to hide your seed phrase in pictures or other colorful works of art, for example. There are already first experiments. “No thief is paranoid enough to try every color combination they find in your house.”
Would be cool if your software allows uploading of images and extracting mnemonic from it. Maybe try to extract from this one (contains mnemonic palette): pic.twitter.com/Gy3p4DOZ5Q
— zender ⬛🟨 bitcoinomad (@zndtoshi) June 26, 2023
The colors produced are represented as a hex color code, a six-digit system that can represent basically any color as a combination of red, blue, and green. Unlike the word-based system, one does not have to remember the “order” of the colors to read out the seed phrase.
The functionality is very simple. The seed phrase can be converted into eight different colors via the input field. If necessary, the code can be brought back to its original form without affecting the order of the seed phrase.
The bitcoin tool is a useful addition to keep the seed phrase safe. That doesn’t mean relying solely on the color code, however. In any case, one or more backups of the Bitcoin keys are worth their weight in gold when in doubt.
BIP39Colors warning: safety concerns
The Bitcoin developer also has instructions provided how to decode your BIP39 colors back into the mnemonic seed phrase using just a calculator – without an external tool. Generally important – Positivo also explains this: “Never rely on any tool or software to release your money.” Basically DYOR applies: If you want to use the tool, you have to be familiar with it.
Seed Phrase: What is this?
The seed is a well-defined but randomly generated list of words that contains all the information needed to recover the wallet in the event of a loss. So caution is advised. Because anyone who gets their hands on the words gains access to the bitcoin in the wallet – and if in doubt can also steal it.
The choice of location for the seed phrase therefore needs to be carefully chosen. After all, losing the seed with a simultaneous wallet compromise leads to the inevitable loss of the digital asset. Basically, never save words digitally, let alone share them on Twitter.
Anyone who copies the private key lives dangerously
There are practical reasons for using words and not numbers when programming the seed. You could also write down the public and private key and derive the wallet from them. However, the private key results from a hexadecimal sequence of numbers, the 64 digits of which offer many opportunities for an incorrect copy. If you write just one digit of the private key wrong, the coins are gone forever if you lose the wallet. Simple words are clearly more advantageous.
Recovery seeds for the long-term storage of cryptocurrencies have prevailed in all well-known hardware wallets due to the many advantages. In our review section you can find our extensive comparison of wallets like Ledger Nano, Bitbox and Trezor.