A brainwallet is a cryptocurrency key created from a password or passphrase chosen by the Bitcoin wallet user. The key is turned into a bit number using the SHA hash algorithm. Since SHA is a deterministic method, users can always use the same password to recreate their private key. Still, there is one thing you need to consider: using this method means the security of your Bitcoin wallet now depends on how unpredictable your password is. To regain access to a Bitcoin wallet, users need the latest copy of their wallet file , at least an idea of what their password is, a computer with a super-fast CPU, a list of potential passwords, and time and patience.
Without a password cracking tool, however, the wallet won't open. Two of the most popular are John the Ripper or Hashcat , so pick one that suits your needs. It might be worth looking into how password recovery tools work before downloading the software of your choice. With John the Ripper you'll need to inform the software of what it is that you want crack, specify the hash you'd like to decrypt , choose the word list to use for the attack, and, finally, specify the number of CPU cores to use.
Of course, you have access to more info than a hacker might, so putting together a list of passwords can streamline the process and could increase the success rate. A project called the Large Bitcoin Collider designed to hint at cryptographic collisions has been able to generate more than 3, trillion private keys and check them against existing Bitcoin addresses to see if they contain Bitcoin.
As you might have guessed, they did.
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Cracking into Bitcoin wallets isn't new; white-hat hacker Ryan Castellucci has done it before. Hackers obviously exploited the vulnerability of brainwallets, draining brain wallet accounts of 1, Bitcoins. As security experts have endlessly emphasized, humans are the weakest link in the strength of any security.
The reason is simple: people come up with lousy passwords, which isn't a problem in most of cases when protecting online accounts. But when it comes to protecting financial data, such as your Bitcoin wallet, this becomes a huge problem because even with two-factor verification enabled the security of that wallet depends on how strong and unique its password is.
Anyone can generate unique passwords using simple tricks , but remembering them is the most challenging part. Password managers, on the other hand, streamline both tasks: they generate cryptographically secure passwords — hence increasing the security level of the Bitcoin password — store it in a secure environment, and retrieve it anytime a user needs it. Users won't forget a password again, and, as a result, hacking into the Bitcoin wallet won't be necessary, and so the cryptocurrency will remain secure.
The first problem I faced was that the installed version of Bitcoin Core v0.
Also my laptop did not have any updates in years, so I did not consider the laptop to be secure neither. And, to complicate things, I was not even sure whether my wallet was encrypted or not, and if so, what the password would have been. I might have been able to guess it, but I was not sure. I own a new MacBook Pro, so in theory I could have installed a new version of Bitcoin Core there and then try to import the old wallet.
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But the problem was that Bitcoin Core these days require at least GB of disk space, and I only have GB available, with roughly half of it already filled. So, there simply was not enough disk space available. After much reading I decided to install Electrum wallet instead. The difference between Bitcoin Core and Electrum is that the latter is a so-called simplified payment verification SPV wallet.
In short, the consequence is that Electrum does not require to download the total GB of blockchain history, but instead is a fully functional wallet that is still sufficiently secure for the majority of purposes, although not exactly as secure as the Bitcoin Core wallet. At least for the fraction of bitcoins I owned it seemed to be secure enough. Apparently, some time ago there had existed a fake website called electrum. Next problem was that I had no clue how to import my Bitcoin wallet. I searched around and found this medium.
From what I understood from this site and other related material there was simply no way how to import my old wallet. Instead, it was suggested to use pywallet , a Python 2. I cloned it into my local file system…. According to the installation instructions it was required to pip install several Python 2. However, I did not want to fiddle around with that version to avoid overwriting some system libraries with newer versions by mistake and potentially cause some Mac OS X processes to fail.
Unfortunately, Python 2. So, I decided to follow the MacPorts route. I decided not to actually switch the Python version with MacPorts, but simply directly refer to the installed Python 2. Then I ran pywallet:. I was not sure this would work, because the wallet. I decided to try my luck…. It worked like a charm. As it turned out, most wallets from Bitcoin Core from are actually not encrypted. Apparently, this was not enforced back then by Bitcoin Core v0.
The json file contained lots and lots of different addresses, including their private and public keys. What a mess. A typical entry looked like so:. This is in essence a wallet import format WIF Base58 encoded private key.
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In my situation, having still access to the old Bitcoin Core installation from I also knew exactly which address would contain the bitcoins. If I had not known that then I would have needed to go through the pain of extracting all addresses with a script and checking all of against some public website or service to see which one actually contains the bitcoins.
This is described in just superficial details in already mentioned medium. Also, you might need to build in a small waiting time between requests to not get blocked by the blockchain information provider service.
With that information I could not start my Electrum application. I had installed Electrum v4. After starting, I first selected create new wallet , provided a name, and then selected Import Bitcoin addresses or private keys. At some point in the process I also had to select a strong password if I remember correctly. In the input field I only needed to enter the 51 character long WIF Base58 encoded private key, then I could click the next button. Now I was ready. No import of GB data needed at only minimal loss of trust.
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Well, if you are prepared to spend some outrageous commissions of 3. I then began researching on trading platforms and how they work.
Do I still own old bitcoin addresses?
A co-worker suggested me to try out Lykke claiming they did not charge extra fees to transfer fiat money to any bank account through the SWIFT payment system. I briefly also checked out Bitcoinsuisse. Thanks, but no thanks.