Secure Backup and Storage (Part 1/3)

Turing Research Network

Turing Research Network
4 min readMay 11, 2021

Author: @link_vector (Twitter Profile). Make sure to follow him on Twitter for regular updates on all things blockchain & cryptocurrency

In our previous security segment, we wrote about how to secure your digital assets and maintain clean digital hygiene. This three-part article will focus on how to efficiently and securely manage your private keys, seed phrase or mnemonic phrase, keystore file, passwords and pin codes.

All of these authenticating mechanisms are used to access your cryptocurrency wallets.

Part One — Authenticating Mechanisms

Let’s take a quick stroll down memory lane to remind ourselves how each authenticating mechanism works. Remember, not every wallet provides the user a choice between seed phrases or mnemonic phrases, private keys, passwords, pin codes or keystore files. The pros and cons for each authenticating mechanism and or wallet type will not be included in this article, so please DYOR to determine which method best suits your needs.

1. Your password is a combination of alphanumeric and special characters, words or phrases that are used to authenticate and gain access to your wallet. Just like accessing your online bank account, some crypto wallets require a password. Do not give your passwords to anyone. (Fun fact — “password” is one of the most popular passwords used, so don’t use that!)

2. Your pin code is a four-to-six-digit numeric code that either is a static code you create, memorize and securely store (like the pin code to opening your phone) or it can be a randomly generated numeric code created by authenticating software like Google Authenticator; also known as 2-Factor Authentication (2FA) or Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA). Do not give your pin codes to anyone. (Fun fact — 1111 and 1234 and the most common numeric pin codes used)

3. Your private keys are the digital cryptographic object that allow you to authenticate into your wallet. Private keys and public keys are generated via Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) technologies:

i. Private keys: must be kept secret and safely stored. These are used to authenticate and gain access to your crypto wallets and corresponding addresses. Do not ever share your private keys with anyone.

ii. Public keys: you share these with others in order to receive cryptocurrency, also known as public-addresses. Do not ever share your private keys with anyone.

iii. Example: Your home address is like a public key or public address, and your house key is like a private key. You share your home address (public key/ public address) with others to send you mail or goods, but you never share the house key (private key) because that can be exploited and used to obtain access to your house and all of its contents.

4. Seed phrases or mnemonic phrases are a unique 12–24 word database that is generated when you first create or initialize a crypto wallet. This uniquely generated word database is used as a backup to access your crypto wallet in case you forget your passwords, lose your keystore file or in case of a disaster. Remember, when you are reentering your seed phrase you must type the words in the exact same order in which they were generated. Some crypto wallets require that these seed phrases or mnemonic phrases are used to authenticate into your crypto wallet for every login. Do not give your seed phrase or mnemonic phrase to anyone.

5. A keystore file is a uniquely generated file that is created when you first setup or initialize your crypto-wallet and contains a cryptographic signature which is used to authenticate to your corresponding wallet. Do not give your keystore file to anyone.

Again, each wallet contains a different cryptographic method for authentication, and it is your duty as an informed individual to choose the mechanism that securely suits your needs. Now that we’ve briefly covered the most common authenticating mechanisms for your cryptocurrency wallets, in part two we will describe ways on how to securely store them.

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