After 25 minutes, Andrew Fraser cracked the wallet. Using 12 words and appropriate decryption software, he earns 100,000 satoshi – that’s only $28, but the implications are far-reaching. The action was not a malicious attack on an unsuspecting victim. Rather: a warm invitation. Fraser accepted it gratefully. The words were shared publicly on Twitter.
With “500 million possible combinations” this task seems impossible. However, thanks to the software application BTCRecover it was child’s play, says Andrew Fraser after his success: “My gaming GPU was able to determine the correct order of the seed phrase in about 25 minutes. A more powerful system would do that much faster,” explained he. What the Bitcoiner from the action learns? Cracking seed phrases makes you hungry and “Chicken Marsala costs exactly $28.”
Wicked already has that next competition started. The goal: create security awareness among investors and point out the advantages of self-custody. One wisdom: “Never say your bitcoin seed phrase out loud.”
Keep wallet backup phrase safe
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.