(1) Is it true that encrypting an *existing* bitcoin-qt wallet.dat file will "invalidate" any existing backups? (2) Can I use unicode characters - eg ♥ - in the bitcoin-qt wallet passphrase?
I have an existing bitcoin-qt wallet.dat file which I want to encrypt - using the command in the bitcoin-qt Settings menu, involving creating a passphrase. I have 2 (possibly somewhat related) questions: TL;DR (1) If you encrypt an existing wallet.dat file, will the backups of the old wallet.dat file still work? (2) Can you include unicode characters - eg ♥ - in the passphrase used to encrypt a bitcoin-qt wallet.dat file? Worst-case scenario: The answers to (1) and (2) are both "no" - and I attempt to encrypt an existing wallet using unicode, and my backups no longer work (due to a new pool of addresses somehow being created?) and the passphrase isn't what I think it is (due to the unicode characters somehow being misinterpreted?) - and then I could lose all my coins?? Details (1) The following (old, short) thread claims that after you encrypt an existing wallet, any previous backups of that wallet will no longer work: https://pay.reddit.com/Bitcoin/comments/1ccfdk/encrypting_walletdat_in_bitcoinqt/ Obviously, the the first response in that thread was slightly wrong, for saying that the "server" creates a new pool of 100 addresses to draw on. So using word "server" here was certainly incorrect - but maybe the gist of what they were saying might still be correct? (if you simply change "server" to "client"). I can actually understand that there might be reasons why encrypting a wallet.dat file could cause a new pool of 100 addresses to be generated. But it does not make sense to me that this would make any older (unencrypted) backups instantly useless. It seems to me that these older, unencrypted backups would still have their private keys intact, and could thus be used in certain (perhaps limited?) ways - such as:
"sweeping" the funds from the private keys of the old, unencrypted wallet into another wallet, or
doing a normal "spend" from the private keys of the old, unencrypted wallet (However, if the old unencrypted and the new encrypted wallets now contain different pools of addresses, then I imagine that this spend would invalidate the new, encrypted wallet - because any change from the spend would be sent to a "change address" from among those in the old, unencrypted wallet - and so this amount of change would be missing from the new encrypted wallet, right?).
(2) It seems that including a few unicode characters in the bitcoin-qt wallet passphrase would make it a lot stronger (since unicode is a much larger set of characters than ascii), so I would like to include a few. But it would be more reassuring if it could be explicitly stated that this is indeed supported. Possible catastrophic interaction between (1) and (2)? If the answers to (1) and (2) were both "no" (ie, if you encrypt an existing bitcoin-qt wallet.dat file then any existing backups will not work, and unicode characters do not work in bitcoin-qt passphrases), then I'm worried there could be some kind of catastrophic interaction between (1) and (2) where I lose all my coins, as follows: (1) I encrypt my existing wallet - making my old, unencrypted wallet.dat file now invalidated (due to something involving a new pool of addresses being generated?) and (2) I use a passphrase which includes unicode characters which bitcoin-qt appears to accept at the time of creation, but which doesn't work at the time of trying to decrypt the wallet.dat file (due to something going wring with how the supposed unicode characters are actually interpreted while being entered or copied-and-pasted?). In this possible worst-case scenario, my old backups of wallet.dat no longer work, and my newly encrypted wallet.dat has some password which I'm not able to correctly enter anymore. Sorry to be so paranoid about this! Other remarks: (a) I did do a (limited) test of unicode capability for bitcoin-qt wallet.dat passphrases: simply by creating a new (empty) wallet.dat file, and creating a passphrase for it involving unicode characters, and then attempting to change the passphrase (which requires entering the old passphrase that contained unicode characters). This did seem to work ok: it let me re-enter the old passphrase (which included unicode characters) to create a new passphrase. However, since this is an empty wallet (and since bitcoin-qt would ask for the passphrase only when attempting to actually spend from an encrypted wallet), I did not see a way to fully test whether the passphrase actually worked to decrypt a unicode-passphrase-encrypted wallet for the purpose of spending from it. (I'm still downloading the rest of the blockchain and it's going to take at least another week on my slow connection, so don't see how I could send a small amount to the new wallet to test it either. My existing wallet.dat file was originally created on an internet-connected machine a long time ago, but it's been offline ever since, so in some sense it's kinda-sorta been in somewhat "cold" storage all this time, and I would prefer to avoid putting it online on a "hot" internet-connected machine until absolutely necessary.) (b) Long-term, I am actually also in the process of setting up a proper cold storage system based on Armory, which I have installed on 2 Ubuntu machines (one offline and one online). But I have a slow internet connection, and the backups of this old wallet.dat file have been sitting around unencrypted for ages (I've been relying simply on then being physically inaccessible). Now some "things" are coming up over the next few days where I some better security right away, and it's probably going to take over a week for Armory/bitcoind to update my local copy of the blockchain. So in the meantime, I also need some basic additional security right now - so encrypting the existing bitcoin-qt wallet.dat file using a strong passphrase (and making some new backups) seems like it could be a reasonable initial approach. Thanks for any help!
Open Source BIP38 Encrypted Bitcoin Wallet generator for long-term Bitcoin storage with an option to create highly secure distributed passphrase backups. Don't lose your Bitcoin due to a forgotten password!
PSA: Added Step May Be Needed When Restoring a Backup Encrypted wallet.dat to Bitcoin Core
TL;DR: To successfully restore an encrypted wallet.dat file, the instance of Bitcoin Core getting restored to needs to first have Encryption turned on and possibly the same Passphrase set as the wallet.dat file you are restoring. It seems this must be done before you restore your encrypted wallet.dat from backup, or Bitcoin Core will just show a zero balance. For the record, the set-up for this situation was as follows: Bitcoin Core (formerly Bitcoin-Qt) 0.9.2.1, Windows x86 version, on Windows XP Pro patched for 2019 PoS updates. Recently, my Bitcoin Core hot wallet had been acting up and crashing after about 6 to 12 hours of uptime. I thought that there was possibly some corruption in Core's database files, so I backed up my wallet.dat and started deleting block chain data/index files to see if a rescan or reindex would correct the problem. I tried to save time by not deleting everything, only certain file types. I managed to somehow screw up and got the dreaded "wallet.dat corrupt, salvage failed" message. Since I had a backup, I didn't bother trying the "-salvagewallet" command-line option (which might have actually corrected my problem.) Instead, I went straight for a restore from backup. Some time ago, and on a much older version of Bitcoin-Qt I had familiarized myself with the wallet.dat backup and restore process. I never had a problem with it. But thinking back, I may have done all of my testing with unencrypted wallet.dat files. In this case, I uninstalled Core, deleted everything in the Bitcoin data directory, reinstalled Core, used bootstrap.dat to catch up as much of the block chain as possible, and let the new install finish syncing from the Internet. Once Core was up-to-date, I closed it and restored my encrypted wallet.dat from backup. In my previous experience, I'd be done at this point. The next time I started the wallet, it would have automatically rescanned, and I'd be back in business. This time, when the wallet finally started up again, it showed no errors, the block chain was still fully synced up, but the wallet showed a zero balance. Not a good feeling. I thought maybe I'd need to manually start Core using the "-rescan" command-line option. I tried this, but got the same result. After mulling things over, I finally guessed that the problem might have something to do with Core's wallet.dat encryption. I again deleted the wallet.dat file from the Bitcoin data directory and restarted Core. Once it finished generating a new wallet.dat file, I enabled Encryption and set the same Passphrase as the wallet.dat file I was trying to restore. Core shut itself down to complete encrypting the new wallet.dat file. Next, I started Core once again to make sure all was OK with new encrypted but empty wallet.dat. I then closed Core and replaced the zero-balance wallet.dat file with my recent backup. That finally did the trick. On the next start, Core automatically did a rescan and my balance reappeared. I don't know for sure if this behavior is the same across all the different flavors of Bitcoin Core 0.9.2.1 (x64, OSX, Linux), but I suspect it might be. Also, it might work just to enable Encryption, but it might not be necessary to have the same Passphrase. I can only confirm that it worked in my case with the same Passphrase. This little adventure was unnerving, particularly since Core issues no errors and just insists there's a zero balance. I thought I should relate what I learned in case someone else encounters the same situation. Cheers, and to the moon! EDIT: At least a couple posts so far report not seeing the same behavior I did. I'm glad if it's a non-issue, and I can't explain why it happened to me. I can just suggest if you have similar issues, it might be worth it to give this method a try.
Bitcoin Wallet Encryption - what happens to backups??
Just curious here - I am attempting to tighten up security on my main wallet (will be transitioning to paper wallet or the ilk soon...but later) I am using the official bitcoin wallet on my desktop. I have a backup somewhere in the cloud from a year or so ago. What happens when I encrypt the wallet on the desktop - does that in any way invalidate the old backup wallet.dat, that's kept in the cloud? Or do I need to destroy that and re-backup my wallet? Thanks friends
Bitcoin wallet encrypted - old backups become useless?
When I encrypted my wallet (don't hate, it was encrypted before too, just not with this feature) today, I was presented with a warning to replace all my old unencrypted backups with this new one, since they become useless. What exactly does that mean? My guess would be something about return addresses, and/or replacing all unused keys with new ones in the newly encrypted wallet, how far off am I ? I can't find the answer anywhere, and would appreciate ELI5 type of an answer :) thanks!
How can I import an encrypted backup wallet.dat file to a newly installed Bitcoin-qt client on macbook??
Let's say one's macbook was to crash with all their data gone, but they have backed up their wallet into a usb. How can one import the wallet.dat file into a newly installed Bitcoin-qt client on a possibly new macbook?
Encrypted Bitcoin Wallet updated! Open Source on Github. Perfect for long-term Bitcoin storage. Create a new BIP38 paper wallet or use an existing private key or vanity address. Additional themes now available. Generate a distributed passphrase backup to ensure your passphrase is protected.
A common sentiment is brewing online; a shared desire for the internet that might have been. After decades of corporate encroachment, you don't need to be a power user to realize that something has gone very wrong. In the early days of the internet, the future was bright. In that future, when you sent an instant message, it traveled directly to the recipient. When you needed to pay a friend, you announced a transfer of value to their public key. When an app was missing a feature you wanted, you opened up the source code and implemented it. When you took a picture on your phone, it was immediately encrypted and backed up to storage that you controlled. In that future, people would laugh at the idea of having to authenticate themselves to some corporation before doing these things. What did we get instead? Rather than a network of human-sized communities, we have a handful of enormous commons, each controlled by a faceless corporate entity. Hey user, want to send a message? You can, but we'll store a copy of it indefinitely, unencrypted, for our preference-learning algorithms to pore over; how else could we slap targeted ads on every piece of content you see? Want to pay a friend? You can—in our Monopoly money. Want a new feature? Submit a request to our Support Center and we'll totally maybe think about it. Want to backup a photo? You can—inside our walled garden, which only we (and the NSA, of course) can access. Just be careful what you share, because merely locking you out of your account and deleting all your data is far from the worst thing we could do. You rationalize this: "MEGACORP would never do such a thing; it would be bad for business." But we all know, at some level, that this state of affairs, this inversion of power, is not merely "unfortunate" or "suboptimal" – No. It is degrading. Even if MEGACORP were purely benevolent, it is degrading that we must ask its permission to talk to our friends; that we must rely on it to safeguard our treasured memories; that our digital lives are completely beholden to those who seek only to extract value from us. At the root of this issue is the centralization of data. MEGACORP can surveil you—because your emails and video chats flow through their servers. And MEGACORP can control you—because they hold your data hostage. But centralization is a solution to a technical problem: How can we make the user's data accessible from anywhere in the world, on any device? For a long time, no alternative solution to this problem was forthcoming. Today, thanks to a confluence of established techniques and recent innovations, we have solved the accessibility problem without resorting to centralization. Hashing, encryption, and erasure encoding got us most of the way, but one barrier remained: incentives. How do you incentivize an anonymous stranger to store your data? Earlier protocols like BitTorrent worked around this limitation by relying on altruism, tit-for-tat requirements, or "points" – in other words, nothing you could pay your electric bill with. Finally, in 2009, a solution appeared: Bitcoin. Not long after, Sia was born. Cryptography has unleashed the latent power of the internet by enabling interactions between mutually-distrustful parties. Sia harnesses this power to turn the cloud storage market into a proper marketplace, where buyers and sellers can transact directly, with no intermediaries, anywhere in the world. No more silos or walled gardens: your data is encrypted, so it can't be spied on, and it's stored on many servers, so no single entity can hold it hostage. Thanks to projects like Sia, the internet is being re-decentralized. Sia began its life as a startup, which means it has always been subjected to two competing forces: the ideals of its founders, and the profit motive inherent to all businesses. Its founders have taken great pains to never compromise on the former, but this often threatened the company's financial viability. With the establishment of the Sia Foundation, this tension is resolved. The Foundation, freed of the obligation to generate profit, is a pure embodiment of the ideals from which Sia originally sprung. The goals and responsibilities of the Foundation are numerous: to maintain core Sia protocols and consensus code; to support developers building on top of Sia and its protocols; to promote Sia and facilitate partnerships in other spheres and communities; to ensure that users can easily acquire and safely store siacoins; to develop network scalability solutions; to implement hardforks and lead the community through them; and much more. In a broader sense, its mission is to commoditize data storage, making it cheap, ubiquitous, and accessible to all, without compromising privacy or performance. Sia is a perfect example of how we can achieve better living through cryptography. We now begin a new chapter in Sia's history. May our stewardship lead it into a bright future.
Today, we are proposing the creation of the Sia Foundation: a new non-profit entity that builds and supports distributed cloud storage infrastructure, with a specific focus on the Sia storage platform. What follows is an informal overview of the Sia Foundation, covering two major topics: how the Foundation will be funded, and what its funds will be used for.
The Sia Foundation will be structured as a non-profit entity incorporated in the United States, likely a 501(c)(3) organization or similar. The actions of the Foundation will be constrained by its charter, which formalizes the specific obligations and overall mission outlined in this document. The charter will be updated on an annual basis to reflect the current goals of the Sia community. The organization will be operated by a board of directors, initially comprising Luke Champine as President and Eddie Wang as Chairman. Luke Champine will be leaving his position at Nebulous to work at the Foundation full-time, and will seek to divest his shares of Nebulous stock along with other potential conflicts of interest. Neither Luke nor Eddie personally own any siafunds or significant quantities of siacoin.
The primary source of funding for the Foundation will come from a new block subsidy. Following a hardfork, 30 KS per block will be allocated to the "Foundation Fund," continuing in perpetuity. The existing 30 KS per block miner reward is not affected. Additionally, one year's worth of block subsidies (approximately 1.57 GS) will be allocated to the Fund immediately upon activation of the hardfork. As detailed below, the Foundation will provably burn any coins that it cannot meaningfully spend. As such, the 30 KS subsidy should be viewed as a maximum. This allows the Foundation to grow alongside Sia without requiring additional hardforks. The Foundation will not be funded to any degree by the possession or sale of siafunds. Siafunds were originally introduced as a means of incentivizing growth, and we still believe in their effectiveness: a siafund holder wants to increase the amount of storage on Sia as much as possible. While the Foundation obviously wants Sia to succeed, its driving force should be its charter. Deriving significant revenue from siafunds would jeopardize the Foundation's impartiality and focus. Ultimately, we want the Foundation to act in the best interests of Sia, not in growing its own budget.
The Foundation inherits a great number of responsibilities from Nebulous. Each quarter, the Foundation will publish the progress it has made over the past quarter, and list the responsibilities it intends to prioritize over the coming quarter. This will be accompanied by a financial report, detailing each area of expenditure over the past quarter, and forecasting expenditures for the coming quarter. Below, we summarize some of the myriad responsibilities towards which the Foundation is expected to allocate its resources.
Maintain and enhance core Sia software
Arguably, this is the most important responsibility of the Foundation. At the heart of Sia is its consensus algorithm: regardless of other differences, all Sia software must agree upon the content and rules of the blockchain. It is therefore crucial that the algorithm be stewarded by an entity that is accountable to the community, transparent in its decision-making, and has no profit motive or other conflicts of interest. Accordingly, Sia’s consensus functionality will no longer be directly maintained by Nebulous. Instead, the Foundation will release and maintain an implementation of a "minimal Sia full node," comprising the Sia consensus algorithm and P2P networking code. The source code will be available in a public repository, and signed binaries will be published for each release. Other parties may use this code to provide alternative full node software. For example, Nebulous may extend the minimal full node with wallet, renter, and host functionality. The source code of any such implementation may be submitted to the Foundation for review. If the code passes review, the Foundation will provide "endorsement signatures" for the commit hash used and for binaries compiled internally by the Foundation. Specifically, these signatures assert that the Foundation believes the software contains no consensus-breaking changes or other modifications to imported Foundation code. Endorsement signatures and Foundation-compiled binaries may be displayed and distributed by the receiving party, along with an appropriate disclaimer. A minimal full node is not terribly useful on its own; the wallet, renter, host, and other extensions are what make Sia a proper developer platform. Currently, the only implementations of these extensions are maintained by Nebulous. The Foundation will contract Nebulous to ensure that these extensions continue to receive updates and enhancements. Later on, the Foundation intends to develop its own implementations of these extensions and others. As with the minimal node software, these extensions will be open source and available in public repositories for use by any Sia node software. With the consensus code now managed by the Foundation, the task of implementing and orchestrating hardforks becomes its responsibility as well. When the Foundation determines that a hardfork is necessary (whether through internal discussion or via community petition), a formal proposal will be drafted and submitted for public review, during which arguments for and against the proposal may be submitted to a public repository. During this time, the hardfork code will be implemented, either by Foundation employees or by external contributors working closely with the Foundation. Once the implementation is finished, final arguments will be heard. The Foundation board will then vote whether to accept or reject the proposal, and announce their decision along with appropriate justification. Assuming the proposal was accepted, the Foundation will announce the block height at which the hardfork will activate, and will subsequently release source code and signed binaries that incorporate the hardfork code. Regardless of the Foundation's decision, it is the community that ultimately determines whether a fork is accepted or rejected – nothing can change that. Foundation node software will never automatically update, so all forks must be explicitly adopted by users. Furthermore, the Foundation will provide replay and wipeout protection for its hard forks, protecting other chains from unintended or malicious reorgs. Similarly, the Foundation will ensure that any file contracts formed prior to a fork activation will continue to be honored on both chains until they expire. Finally, the Foundation also intends to pursue scalability solutions for the Sia blockchain. In particular, work has already begun on an implementation of Utreexo, which will greatly reduce the space requirements of fully-validating nodes (allowing a full node to be run on a smartphone) while increasing throughput and decreasing initial sync time. A hardfork implementing Utreexo will be submitted to the community as per the process detailed above. As this is the most important responsibility of the Foundation, it will receive a significant portion of the Foundation’s budget, primarily in the form of developer salaries and contracting agreements.
Support community services
We intend to allocate 25% of the Foundation Fund towards the community. This allocation will be held and disbursed in the form of siacoins, and will pay for grants, bounties, hackathons, and other community-driven endeavours. Any community-run service, such as a Skynet portal, explorer or web wallet, may apply to have its costs covered by the Foundation. Upon approval, the Foundation will reimburse expenses incurred by the service, subject to the exact terms agreed to. The intent of these grants is not to provide a source of income, but rather to make such services "break even" for their operators, so that members of the community can enrich the Sia ecosystem without worrying about the impact on their own finances.
Ensure easy acquisition and storage of siacoins
Most users will acquire their siacoins via an exchange. The Foundation will provide support to Sia-compatible exchanges, and pursue relevant integrations at its discretion, such as Coinbase's new Rosetta standard. The Foundation may also release DEX software that enables trading cryptocurrencies without the need for a third party. (The Foundation itself will never operate as a money transmitter.) Increasingly, users are storing their cryptocurrency on hardware wallets. The Foundation will maintain the existing Ledger Nano S integration, and pursue further integrations at its discretion. Of course, all hardware wallets must be paired with software running on a computer or smartphone, so the Foundation will also develop and/or maintain client-side wallet software, including both full-node wallets and "lite" wallets. Community-operated wallet services, i.e. web wallets, may be funded via grants. Like core software maintenance, this responsibility will be funded in the form of developer salaries and contracting agreements.
Protect the ecosystem
When it comes to cryptocurrency security, patching software vulnerabilities is table stakes; there are significant legal and social threats that we must be mindful of as well. As such, the Foundation will earmark a portion of its fund to defend the community from legal action. The Foundation will also safeguard the network from 51% attacks and other threats to network security by implementing softforks and/or hardforks where necessary. The Foundation also intends to assist in the development of a new FOSS software license, and to solicit legal memos on various Sia-related matters, such as hosting in the United States and the EU. In a broader sense, the establishment of the Foundation makes the ecosystem more robust by transferring core development to a more neutral entity. Thanks to its funding structure, the Foundation will be immune to various forms of pressure that for-profit companies are susceptible to.
Drive adoption of Sia
Although the overriding goal of the Foundation is to make Sia the best platform it can be, all that work will be in vain if no one uses the platform. There are a number of ways the Foundation can promote Sia and get it into the hands of potential users and developers. In-person conferences are understandably far less popular now, but the Foundation can sponsor and/or participate in virtual conferences. (In-person conferences may be held in the future, permitting circumstances.) Similarly, the Foundation will provide prizes for hackathons, which may be organized by community members, Nebulous, or the Foundation itself. Lastly, partnerships with other companies in the cryptocurrency space—or the cloud storage space—are a great way to increase awareness of Sia. To handle these responsibilities, one of the early priorities of the Foundation will be to hire a marketing director.
The Foundation Fund will be controlled by a multisig address. Each member of the Foundation's board will control one of the signing keys, with the signature threshold to be determined once the final composition of the board is known. (This threshold may also be increased or decreased if the number of board members changes.) Additionally, one timelocked signing key will be controlled by David Vorick. This key will act as a “dead man’s switch,” to be used in the event of an emergency that prevents Foundation board members from reaching the signature threshold. The timelock ensures that this key cannot be used unless the Foundation fails to sign a transaction for several months. On the 1st of each month, the Foundation will use its keys to transfer all siacoins in the Fund to two new addresses. The first address will be controlled by a high-security hot wallet, and will receive approximately one month's worth of Foundation expenditures. The second address, receiving the remaining siacoins, will be a modified version of the source address: specifically, it will increase the timelock on David Vorick's signing key by one month. Any other changes to the set of signing keys, such as the arrival or departure of board members, will be incorporated into this address as well. The Foundation Fund is allocated in SC, but many of the Foundation's expenditures must be paid in USD or other fiat currency. Accordingly, the Foundation will convert, at its discretion, a portion of its monthly withdrawals to fiat currency. We expect this conversion to be primarily facilitated by private "OTC" sales to accredited investors. The Foundation currently has no plans to speculate in cryptocurrency or other assets. Finally, it is important that the Foundation adds value to the Sia platform well in excess of the inflation introduced by the block subsidy. For this reason, the Foundation intends to provably burn, on a quarterly basis, any coins that it cannot allocate towards any justifiable expense. In other words, coins will be burned whenever doing so provides greater value to the platform than any other use. Furthermore, the Foundation will cap its SC treasury at 5% of the total supply, and will cap its USD treasury at 4 years’ worth of predicted expenses. Addendum: Hardfork Timeline We would like to see this proposal finalized and accepted by the community no later than September 30th. A new version of siad, implementing the hardfork, will be released no later than October 15th. The hardfork will activate at block 293220, which is expected to occur around 12pm EST on January 1st, 2021.
Addendum: Inflation specifics The total supply of siacoins as of January 1st, 2021 will be approximately 45.243 GS. The initial subsidy of 1.57 GS thus increases the supply by 3.47%, and the total annual inflation in 2021 will be at most 10.4% (if zero coins are burned). In 2022, total annual inflation will be at most 6.28%, and will steadily decrease in subsequent years.
We see the establishment of the Foundation as an important step in the maturation of the Sia project. It provides the ecosystem with a sustainable source of funding that can be exclusively directed towards achieving Sia's ambitious goals. Compared to other projects with far deeper pockets, Sia has always punched above its weight; once we're on equal footing, there's no telling what we'll be able to achieve. Nevertheless, we do not propose this change lightly, and have taken pains to ensure that the Foundation will act in accordance with the ideals that this community shares. It will operate transparently, keep inflation to a minimum, and respect the user's fundamental role in decentralized systems. We hope that everyone in the community will consider this proposal carefully, and look forward to a productive discussion.
Edit: Currently writing a new version of this, dont know when it will be done. Edit: Since first post I have updated a few sections with additional information. I recommend reading it all even if it is very long, I might have placed some relevant info in different sections while thinking about what else needed to be added, plenty of steps remains mostly the same except when I comment directly on it. It is not necessary to do 100% security all the time, unless you absolutely need it, combining some high and some lower security ideas for a balance of security and convenience is useful. I will base this mostly on Windows, Linux users probably know this, and I have no idea how apple machines work (tho many things in here are still relevant for other operating systems, as they are just general tips) Disclaimer: There are certainly other steps that can make you more anonymous or safer, however I think for most people this will surfice. Any software I recommend should be independently verified for security, and examples of software are not to be taken as endorsements. I simply use examples and give recommendations when I believe it necessary, or helpful. I will not really differentiate between anonymity and security, they are often the same thing. As such the word security can mean either more anonymous, less vulnerable, or both. -------- Everyday Simple Info Sec:
Password for the device is an obvious one (8+ characters minimum, best if over +12), if there is sensitive information on any of the drives, either encrypt the entire drive or just the sensitive files, and make encrypted backups on a different memory storage device (There many programs to encrypt files and drives I'm sure a search will figure it out)
-There could be a hidden administrator user on your PC, make sure to change its password
Always use the device on a non admin account
a VPN that doesn't log (use with kill switch on, should be enough for everyday stuff, more safe stuff in the high security section) (VPNs that claim they don't log sometimes do, it's bad, but I would like to point out that not using a VPN will always expose your traffic to your ISP and also remove additional encryption. Even if the VPN tracks, there is no downside because your ISP would track anyways, and VPNs can be more anonymous, and also add extra encryption)
disable location tracking (preferably make all your privacy setting to release minimal info, get rid or cortana, change privacy settings in all of your accounts as well, there's no reason why you should allow Facebook to give you target ads. Use the setting they give you.
TOR, Firefox or similar browser, stay the fuck away from Google Chrome.
your preferred search engine should be duckduckgo (other privacy focused search engines exist as well)
use an adblocker that also prevents the adding of tacking cookies
Use pgp with all your friends or messaging services that implemented end to end encryption (Implemented services can still be bypassed, but are way more convenient so for everyday use they should suffice, some examples should be Telegraph, Signal, WhatsApp etc) (more info on pgp in high security section)
(Snapchat msgs, reddit dms, discord msgs, are just a few examples of msgs that are never encrypted) -Any info even send in encrypted msgs (and obviously non encrypted) should still be kept with possible deniability, don't say "I'm gonna do MDMA", say "I'm going out with molly."
use software (like ccleaner) that purges cookies and other data after every use, before shutting down your device
use a virus scanner daily (I like spy bot Search and destroy, many other options also exist)
never use the same password/passphrase twice (I will address what passphrase are below) (Better yet use randomized passwords that are stored in a master key chain, make them as long as possible (tho it is okay to go with the minimum of 12 never go below 7, I recommend 15+ depending on how often you have to manually enter the password instead of copying/pasting it) Don't generate too long keys for things you need to access regularly without copy/paste, except your master key ring)
its ideal to never use the same email or username as well, especially username, email is obviously tricky and also very annoying, but it would be best to always change the email.
-DO NOT STORE ANY PASSWORDS ON GOOGLE, IF GOOGLE LOGIN IS AUTHENTICATED IT WILL AUTFILL ALL PASSWORDS IT HAS SAVED (same with other similar services) (This means if you are logged in to chrome and someone has access to your machine, they can auto fill passwords without entering a single password) -use a rememberable passphrase, especially for your master key ring aka password manager A long sentence that is memorable makes an okay password (decent example,: "I met my wife at Little Ceasers for the first time on 07/09/20" better even if it's just something you know, if its impersonal, and if you can add special characters or numbers that you won't forget) (A better example for a passphrase is: "There is 0nly 0ne letter that d0esn’t appear in any U.S. state nameQ")
for your main password manager(key ring), I highly recommend Keepass 2, make backups of the file save to separate devices and drives (Flash drives, phone, PC, laptop, etc, if you loose that file, you lose all of your passwords) (Other good password managers exist as well, I don't recommend online password managers as you lose the control over passwords)
-Purge your internet activity frequently, there's a reason why I only have one post, and a few comments appearing in my account, but thousands of kama. Exposing information needlessly is not good. -Never post private information publicly, and if you do, do it vaguely as possible. (Example: Not "I'm 15", say "I'm a teenager") Do not post any vital information ever, no birthdays, mother's maiden name, age, or anything you have ever seen in a security question. Never post your current activities while they are ongoing. You going on a vacation? Don't announce it to the world, taking picture there? Post them when you are home.
Any account that is supposed to remain anonymous and as secure as possible should only be used on secured devices. A unsecured device can link you to the account.
always shutdown your machine when leaving it (To prevent access, and to prevent a possible attack vector)
2 factor factor authentication is not great anymore. Unless you can do it over a anonymous source. A cell phone is usually directly connected to you, so it is not a anonymous device. There might still be secure/anonymous 2 factor authentication methods that won't expose you, for example over a secure email. (If there is 2FA that doesn't need a device that removes anonymity and is secure, use it.) (Please don't misunderstand, 2FA is great, however it can remove the anonymity that you worked hard to establish)
-Rethink how you do security questions. Many answers to security questions can be found in your internet history. One could use the first word of the security question as an answer, or a different sceme that will mean you always remember it. (Security question need to go, the amount of personal info an average person puts on the internet makes it easy to attack anything using security question) -------_ High level crimimal information security: The motto here is, "All the Security, All the Time" As one fuck up can end with you leaving a lick of traceability, and you could be fucked. Pre Note: All of your software should always be up to date. Also even perfect info sec does not guarantee you are completely safe, a new zero day (exploit) can still fuck you, but good info security makes you significantly safer, by eliminating as many attacks as possible. -Get a new device (or make a already owned device seem like you never owned it, do this only if you know how to, there's a lot of stuff that goes into that, like changing your mac adress etc) buy with cash, and your face covered, preferably far away from where you live. (Do I need to specify to not bring your phone or anything else that tracks your location to anywhere you want to go anonymously?) (Be aware that even hardware can have vulnerabilities, many cpus have known vulnerabilities, I can't list them all, do some research before buying)
Do not EVER use a high security device at any lower level of security. There are unique identifiers to your device, exposing them once can expose you for everything you do.
-If you know how to use Tails (A linux distro designed for Info sec) use that, preferably on a USB. (Or learn how to use tails, its better, but complicated) Otherwise a clean copy of windows (make sure its not in any way associated with you) can do the job too, tho not as well. (Using a VM might give extra security, since VMs usually erase all data and RAM they were using on shutdown) -Get a non tracking VPN, Enable the kill switch (a setting that disables all traffic that doesn't go through the VPN) (change your firewall settings to only allow the traffic from the VPN, windows guide (Change settings so only traffic from the tor application is send) Edit: (Due to complaints: do not use vpn over tor, use tor over vpn. tor over vpn has no notable downside, if the VPN logs it makes no difference, your ISP will always log anyways, and vpns remove other attack vectors and also provide backup security should tor fail. Again even if the VPN tracks you only change the people doing the tracking, but now you are further removed making it more anonymous and also with less vulnerabilities) -rember privacy settings, cookie cleaner, and antivirus, password (There could be a hidden administrator user on your PC, make sure to change its password) -Always use the device on a non admin account
-Ideally use this device only on networks that are not connected with you. Such as public networks (try to never use the same public networks twice, move around) (a home network should be fine now, as it should never be exposed, but more security is always better) (Its just a conveniences vs security trade) -Never use accounts that have been exposed to lower security on higher security machines -your browser is now TOR (or your preferred security focused browser, if you dont plan on using onion ) Make sure you get the standalone version of tor not the addon build (the standalone is safer, because there are less settings and options to tweak) -Change your tor settings, to safest mode, enable a bridge (to my knowledge there's no difference in security between the build in bridges in tor), enable automatic updates, set duckduckgo onion as your primary browser. Set dark.fail onion page as your home page. (Or your preferred privacy search engine and onion directory)
set up a new pgp (can't use the same one you use for regular use, again less safer accounts are never used on safer devices) Cleopatra is my choice, its simple to use. Make sure you back up the private key multiple times, on safe devices. (Dont let the private key fall into anyone's hands) Give it a generic name like "HighSecurityPGP" do not give the pgp key pair a name that could identify you. (No initials etc) (Some pgp key pair programs want an associated email for a key pair, you can create a safe email, or which I recoend you can use a different program (like Cleopatra) (Feds & LEOs are known to copy private keys if they have your machine, so you will need to set up a new key pair if they ever take a device with a private key copy)
a high security machine that facilitates criminal activity can not use many programs. Many programs collect your devices mac adress, which is a unique identifier, amongst other things. It's should be used only for the activity you want to do.
-------_ How to use dark net markets (DNMs) If you finished your High Security setup, we can dive right in. Otherwise go do that. This is where all that is essential. Quick info on Tor, and onion sites. There is no search engine. It's all based of directories and addresses you are given by others. Tor will likely not be very quick, it has to pass through multiple networks to get to the destination. DNMs sometimes exit scam, an exit scam is when a market shuts down completely and takes all the money, this is a risk when using DNMs, it's not too common but happens maybe 0-4 times a year. The admins of thoese servers need to get out at some point, before they get jailed, so they exit the game, and scam everyone out of their money. -A very useful onion directory is dark.fail it has a lot of links, for all kinds of stuff. News, email, DNMs, Psychonautwiki (harm reduction website), forums etc. (Other directories also exist) -Pick a market, preferably one that handles secure connection server side instead of requiring you to establish the secure connection. Then create an account. Your account once created should include an entry box in your profile for a pgp key, post your PUBLIC key in there. (Verify the link is not a scam, most markets should provide a pgp signature) -Next is currency setup. All major cryptocurrency exchangers can be used, I can recommend coin base but there could be better ones out there. Unless you find a small non U.S., exchange, they will always ask for your identity. So unless you can find a trustworthy exchange that doesn't ID, you will need to give it to them. (Side note, all major crypto exchangers report to the IRS, if the IRS asks you if you bought cryptocurrency and you bought while having IDed yourself SAY YES, DO NOT COMMIT TAX FRAUD WHEN THEY KNOW YOU DID)
I recommend using Monero, it's hard to track, so it makes your job a lot easier. (If you use bitcoin you should run it through a scrambler, because BTC is tracable to anyone who knows what they are doing)
-Transfer (monero you can send directly, btc you should scramble) to your wallet. There are two options a cold wallet (physical) or a software wallet. Software wallets usually dont cost anything so I recommend them, even if often less safe. Electrum is easy to use, and pretty safe. You can also do your own research and find a wallet that fits your needs.
decide where you want to ship it. You can send to your home, to a PO box, to a PO box that you opened with a fake ID (I don't recommend), an abandoned house, general mail (sending to a post office instead of a street adress) pickup up with fake ID, use a remailing service. These are some options, sending it to your own home, isn't ideal, but its pretty much the only easy way.
-now you are ready to buy, only buy using escrow (it means the money is held by the market as a middle man until the product is delivered, they will also handle any issues like wrong quantity, cuts, etc), judge the reviews for a product, and if available look at the history of the vendor, until you find a product from a vendor you trust. (I recommend to buy within your country as much as possible, so it doesn't go through customs, it's very rare that something is found, but it can happen) -now you get to buy, depending on market, you either have cryptocurrency stored in their wallets (not recommend, you will lose it in an exit scam) or you can send it every order. When you send your delivery adress (or the one you want it to go to) encrypt the adress using the sellers public key. Make sure the adress is correct. -wait for the product, make sure to extend the escrow until the product arrives, if you can't extend it anymore dispute the order, and a moderator will step in -test the product, use it, and leave a review. PLEASE LEAVE A REVIEW, DNMs only work because of reviews. Edit: Didn't imagine I would write over 15000 words. Oh well, it was fun. Hope it helps, if you have any questions feel free to ask. No idea how long this will stay up, I might purge it in 7 days, or never.
What I currently use for privacy (after almost 2 years of long investing into it)
You've probably been hearing a lot about Bitcoin recently and are wondering what's the big deal? Most of your questions should be answered by the resources below but if you have additional questions feel free to ask them in the comments. It all started with the release of the release of Satoshi Nakamoto's whitepaper however that will probably go over the head of most readers so we recommend the following videos for a good starting point for understanding how bitcoin works and a little about its long term potential:
Limited Supply - There will only ever be 21,000,000 bitcoins created and they are issued in a predictable fashion, you can view the inflation schedule here. Once they are all issued Bitcoin will be truly deflationary. The halving countdown can be found here.
Open source - Bitcoin code is fully auditable. You can read the source code yourself here.
Accountable - The public ledger is transparent, all transactions are seen by everyone.
Decentralized - Bitcoin is globally distributed across thousands of nodes with no single point of failure and as such can't be shut down similar to how Bittorrent works. You can even run a node on a Raspberry Pi.
Censorship resistant - No one can prevent you from interacting with the bitcoin network and no one can censor, alter or block transactions that they disagree with, see Operation Chokepoint.
Push system - There are no chargebacks in bitcoin because only the person who owns the address where the bitcoins reside has the authority to move them.
Low fee scaling - On chain transaction fees depend on network demand and how much priority you wish to assign to the transaction. Most wallets calculate on chain fees automatically but you can view current fees here and mempool activity here. On chain fees may rise occasionally due to network demand, however instant micropayments that do not require confirmations are happening via the Lightning Network, a second layer scaling solution currently rolling out on the Bitcoin mainnet.
Borderless - No country can stop it from going in/out, even in areas currently unserved by traditional banking as the ledger is globally distributed.
Portable - Bitcoins are digital so they are easier to move than cash or gold. They can even be transported by simply memorizing a string of words for wallet recovery (while cool this method is generally not recommended due to potential for insecure key generation by inexperienced users. Hardware wallets are the preferred method for new users due to ease of use and additional security).
Bitcoin.org and BuyBitcoinWorldwide.com are helpful sites for beginners. You can buy or sell any amount of bitcoin (even just a few dollars worth) and there are several easy methods to purchase bitcoin with cash, credit card or bank transfer. Some of the more popular resources are below, also check out the bitcoinity exchange resources for a larger list of options for purchases.
Here is a listing of local ATMs. If you would like your paycheck automatically converted to bitcoin use Bitwage. Note: Bitcoins are valued at whatever market price people are willing to pay for them in balancing act of supply vs demand. Unlike traditional markets, bitcoin markets operate 24 hours per day, 365 days per year. Preev is a useful site that that shows how much various denominations of bitcoin are worth in different currencies. Alternatively you can just Google "1 bitcoin in (your local currency)".
Securing your bitcoins
With bitcoin you can "Be your own bank" and personally secure your bitcoins OR you can use third party companies aka "Bitcoin banks" which will hold the bitcoins for you.
If you prefer to "Be your own bank" and have direct control over your coins without having to use a trusted third party, then you will need to create your own wallet and keep it secure. If you want easy and secure storage without having to learn computer security best practices, then a hardware wallet such as the Trezor, Ledger or ColdCard is recommended. Alternatively there are many software wallet options to choose from here depending on your use case.
If you prefer to let third party "Bitcoin banks" manage your coins, try Gemini but be aware you may not be in control of your private keys in which case you would have to ask permission to access your funds and be exposed to third party risk.
Note: For increased security, use Two Factor Authentication (2FA) everywhere it is offered, including email! 2FA requires a second confirmation code to access your account making it much harder for thieves to gain access. Google Authenticator and Authy are the two most popular 2FA services, download links are below. Make sure you create backups of your 2FA codes.
As mentioned above, Bitcoin is decentralized, which by definition means there is no official website or Twitter handle or spokesperson or CEO. However, all money attracts thieves. This combination unfortunately results in scammers running official sounding names or pretending to be an authority on YouTube or social media. Many scammers throughout the years have claimed to be the inventor of Bitcoin. Websites like bitcoin(dot)com and the btc subreddit are active scams. Almost all altcoins (shitcoins) are marketed heavily with big promises but are really just designed to separate you from your bitcoin. So be careful: any resource, including all linked in this document, may in the future turn evil. Don't trust, verify. Also as they say in our community "Not your keys, not your coins".
Where can I spend bitcoins?
Check out spendabit or bitcoin directory for millions of merchant options. Also you can spend bitcoin anywhere visa is accepted with bitcoin debit cards such as the CashApp card. Some other useful site are listed below.
Mining bitcoins can be a fun learning experience, but be aware that you will most likely operate at a loss. Newcomers are often advised to stay away from mining unless they are only interested in it as a hobby similar to folding at home. If you want to learn more about mining you can read more here. Still have mining questions? The crew at /BitcoinMining would be happy to help you out. If you want to contribute to the bitcoin network by hosting the blockchain and propagating transactions you can run a full node using this setup guide. If you would prefer to keep it simple there are several good options. You can view the global node distribution here.
Just like any other form of money, you can also earn bitcoins by being paid to do a job.
You can also earn bitcoins by participating as a market maker on JoinMarket by allowing users to perform CoinJoin transactions with your bitcoins for a small fee (requires you to already have some bitcoins.
The following is a short list of ongoing projects that might be worth taking a look at if you are interested in current development in the bitcoin space.
One Bitcoin is quite large (hundreds of £/$/€) so people often deal in smaller units. The most common subunits are listed below:
one bitcoin is equal to 100 million satoshis
1,000 per bitcoin
used as default unit in recent Electrum wallet releases
1,000,000 per bitcoin
colloquial "slang" term for microbitcoin (μBTC)
100,000,000 per bitcoin
smallest unit in bitcoin, named after the inventor
For example, assuming an arbitrary exchange rate of $10000 for one Bitcoin, a $10 meal would equal:
For more information check out the Bitcoin units wiki. Still have questions? Feel free to ask in the comments below or stick around for our weekly Mentor Monday thread. If you decide to post a question in /Bitcoin, please use the search bar to see if it has been answered before, and remember to follow the community rules outlined on the sidebar to receive a better response. The mods are busy helping manage our community so please do not message them unless you notice problems with the functionality of the subreddit. Note: This is a community created FAQ. If you notice anything missing from the FAQ or that requires clarification you can edit it here and it will be included in the next revision pending approval. Welcome to the Bitcoin community and the new decentralized economy!
Hello, in 2012 I was very dumb and put 100 dollars into a bitcoin account. I used about 70 of it and left 30 and presumably it is still there. Unfortunately, I did not write my password down. I have the wallet id and an encrypted wallet backup. Is there any chance of gaining access to my account?
After 10+ years, buy whatever the newest Ledger hard wallet is available, and “sweep” the bitcoins from my address into the new hard wallet.
I’m not looking to be trading/selling/using it anytime within the next 10 years, so the idea is to have the simplest setup that doesn’t require maintaining any hardware/software wallets for the next 10 years while I slowly accumulate bitcoin. I won’t have to install any software, or update hard wallet firmware or anything like that. Questions: Is an Address+PrivateKey all that is needed to sweep the coins from my address into a new Ledger or a software wallet when the time comes?
Hello, **If someone helps me with this i'll shoot you $20 (in bitcoin). I have an old btc.com wallet (not much on there) that goes to an old email address that I can't seem to get logged in. I saved the backup seed information which includes: "Encrypted Primary Seed" "Backup Seed" "Encrypted Recovery Secret" "Password Encrypted Secret" and the public keys. I use Electrum but I am unsure how to backup the wallet that originated from BTC.com to to restore on electrum. I got like $100 on there so if you help me with this I'll send you $20 from it :) Thanks
A long while ago, as in approximately a decade ago. I was just killing time and reading articles. Bitcoin was pretty new and was reading about how people were mining with computers. Bitcoin was maybe a few months to a couple years old at the time. I was reading an article and within the article there was a link to a new coin company that was trying to acquire clients by giving free coin just for setting up an account. I was like, meh, why not? And did. And that's as far as it went. Divorce happened. Time passed and as far as I know, they're still 'out there' somewhere. Lately, I've been wanting to try to locate them. I remember a file was saved to my PC. And therein lays my question. Does anyone know file extensions I should search my old, archived drives for? It's totally possible it was on one of the drives the failed or on one PC's that was stolen but still, it may be on one of like 15 IDE drives in a box. Any help would be appreciated. Edit: If I remember correctly, it was 10 Bitcoin.
This page describes the algorithm used for encrypting the wallet.dat file used in the original Bitcoin client. Wallet encryption uses AES-256-CBC to encrypt only the private keys that are held in a wallet. The keys are encrypted with a master key which is entirely random. This master key is then encrypted with AES-256-CBC with a key derived from the passphrase using SHA-512 and OpenSSL's EVP ... Bitcoin Wallet Encryption - what happens to backups?? Just curious here - I am attempting to tighten up security on my main wallet (will be transitioning to paper wallet or the ilk soon...but later) I am using the official bitcoin wallet on my desktop. I have a backup somewhere in the cloud from a year or so ago. What happens when I encrypt the wallet on the desktop - does that in any way ... Restoring your wallet file. Assuming your backup is recent enough that you haven't used up all of your key pool... restoring a wallet to a new (or old) location and rescanning the block chain should leave you with all your coins. Just follow these steps: Shut down the Bitcoin program. Copy your backed-up wallet.dat into your bitcoin data directory. The range is governed by the secp256k1 ECDSA encryption standard used by Bitcoin. Wallet Import Format (WIF)¶ In order to make copying of private keys less prone to error, Wallet Import Format may be utilized. WIF uses base58Check encoding on a private key, greatly decreasing the chance of copying error, much like standard Bitcoin addresses. Take a private key. Add a 0x80 byte in front of it ... This page describes the algorithm used for encrypting the wallet.dat file used in the original Bitcoin client. Wallet encryption uses AES-256-CBC to encrypt only the private keys that are held in a wallet. The keys are encrypted with a master key which is entirely random. This master key is then encrypted with AES-256-CBC with a key derived from the passphrase using SHA-512 and OpenSSL's EVP ...
Andreas Antonopoulos on Bitcoin Wallet Encryption - YouTube
How to Secure & Backup Your Bitcoin or Other Crypto Wallets - Duration: 11:54. IMineBlocks 10,017 views. 11:54. ... Encryption and Backup (XP Mac Wallet) - Duration: 11:13. XP Coin Support 485 ... Ravencoin: Encrypt, Backup & Restore Windows Wallet - Duration: ... 11:13. How to Secure & Backup Your Bitcoin or Other Crypto Wallets - Duration: 11:54. IMineBlocks 10,247 views. 11:54 [HOW TO ... part two of my tutorial on how to decrypt the android bitcoin wallet to find the seed and transfer it to multibitHD so that you can (if you choose to) claim bitcoin cash (assuming you had bitcoin ... In this video, Andreas Antonopoulos covers Elliptic Curve Crypto (ECC) & EC Digital Signature Algorithm (ECDSA), Key formats (hex, compressed, b58, b58check,... See how easy it is to create an account with the Airbitz mobile app. Your Airbitz account allows you to create unlimited HD Bitcoin wallets. Only a login and...