Bitcoin, the world’s largest and most popular cryptocurrency, has been making headlines for years. While the technology behind it is innovative and exciting, it also comes with its own set of security challenges. Recently, a systems architect, Andrew Fraser, cracked a 12-word seed phrase and won a 100,000 Satoshi bounty, or 0.001 Bitcoin (BTC), worth $29. The incident serves as a timely reminder for Bitcoin users and crypto enthusiasts to take crypto security seriously.
Seed Phrase – The Master Key to Bitcoin Wallets
A seed phrase or recovery phrase is a string of random words generated. When creating a wallet, a seed phrase is generated to access it, acting as a master key. Seed phrases are typically 12 or 24 words long and must be kept offline to prevent unauthorized access. If a 12-word seed phrase is known, it’s easy to access the wallet and withdraw funds.
Cracking the Code
Fraser brute forced a 12-word seed phrase that Bitcoin educator “Wicked Bitcoin” shared on Twitter.
Fraser stated that replicating his success in cracking seed phrases is possible with basic Python skills and knowledge of BIP39 mnemonics. Windows command shell knowledge is also helpful.
The Tweet challenged users to decipher the correct order of the 12-word seed phrase. Fraser cracked the code using BTCrecover, a software application available on GitHub. It took just 25 minutes to unlock the 100,000 satoshis, worth just under $30.
Security of 12-Word Seed Keys
Fraser highlighted that a 12-word seed key can be secure if the words are unknown to attackers or if a passphrase is used. However, he stressed the superior security of 24-word seed keys, which boast 256 bits of entropy compared to 128 bits in a 12-word seed.
Even the probability of an attacker cracking a 12-word seed phrase is borderline absurd. A 24-word seed phrase may be superior, but it is unlikely to be hacked. It’s a timely reminder to readers to ensure seed phrases are never published or shared online. That means seed phrases should not be stored in a password manager or a cloud storage solution, and they certainly should not be typed out into a phone.
The Importance of Crypto Security
The incident highlights the importance of crypto security. With the increasing number of cryptocurrency users, it’s important to maintain high vigilance and follow best practices for safety. This includes complex passwords, two-factor authentication, and secure offline seed phrases.
Security is an ongoing challenge
Crypto security remains a challenge, but there are tools and resources to stay safe. New security measures and protocols will develop as the industry evolves.
In the meantime, it’s up to individual users to take responsibility for their own security. Staying informed about security threats and best practices is crucial for both experienced and new crypto traders. By staying vigilant and taking the necessary precautions, users can help ensure that their crypto assets stay safe and secure.