How to use a seed phrase?

Private keys are used to protect digital assets stored in cryptocurrency wallets. With their help, the user can exchange coins, make purchases. This is a kind of password that is known only to the owner of the asset. Losing the key is fraught with big trouble. Coins can be stolen by intruders or they will be permanently blocked. In any case, the user will lose their money.

A private key is a random alphanumeric combination that is simply impossible to remember. Without it, you cannot complete a transaction, so security should be ensured. For storage, use:

  • hardware wallets;
  • paper;
  • mobile storage;
  • desktop versions;
  • web wallets.

Online storage is less reliable than the other methods mentioned. Best of all “cold” wallets.

A seed phrase will help you recover private keys. This is a mnemonic set of words generated during the registration process of a crypto wallet.

Seed phrase

This is analogous to the secret question that is used to restore access to a bank card. Looks like a set of words, can contain 12, 18 or 24 meanings. In this case, words are taken from a special dictionary, which contains 2048 meanings.

The formation of mnemonics is performed once, when registering in a cryptocurrency wallet. If you abandon this step, then it will be impossible to return to it in the future.

After generating a secret set of words, they must be saved in any convenient way. Do not rely on your memory, it can fail in an unpleasant way. You should also keep the seed phrase secret, knowing it, you can get access to digital assets, use them.

How mnemonics work

At its core, a mnemonic phrase is numbers encoded through a specific sequence of words. For coding, BIP dictionaries are used – proposals for improving the Bitcoin network.

Popular formats include:

  • BIP32;
  • BIP39;
  • BIP44;
  • BIP49.

The difference is in the number of words, technical features of the generation.

Crypto wallets of different types support certain dictionary formats. At the same time, having a mnemonic phrase created by a wallet with BIP39 support, you can recover private keys in any other storage with appropriate support.

The main stages of restoring private keys using a seed phrase:

  • entropy;
  • converting numbers into words (each word in the dictionary has a specific meaning);
  • creation of a mnemonic phrase.

Entropy is the maximum value that has never been created and will not be in the future. Requirements:

  • multiplicity 32 (for subsequent division into elements);
  • length from 128 to 256 bits (in this case no one will be able to recreate the same number).

A random number generator is used to generate entropy.

The next stage is the formation of a mnemonic phrase. At the same time, to eliminate errors using the SHA256 algorithm, a check number is added by the hashing method – 1 hash bit every 32 bits of entropy.

The encrypted value is divided into groups of 11 bits each and converted to decimal code. For each number, the corresponding word is selected from the dictionary.

The BIP39 dictionary contains 2048 words. An eleven-bit number in decimal format can be represented in the range from 0 to 2047.

To create a seed phrase, use the PBKDF2 function. With its help, a set of numbers is encrypted several times. The resulting value must correspond to 256 bits.

The first 4 letters of each word are unique, they are not repeated in any other word from the list.

How to use a seed phrase

There is no real way to guess a private key. Modern computing technology will be able to find a mnemonic phrase by brute force in several hundred years.

A mnemonic phrase is required to recover keys. It is enough to have:

  • Internet access;
  • crypto storage with support for the BIP dictionary of the required format.

The mnemonic phrase will help generate all passwords and restore access to the cryptocurrency. Therefore, it should be stored with extreme care. For storage, it is better to use:

  • paper list – write down the seed phrase and hide the sheet in a dark, cool place;
  • metal plates – there are special steel carriers of the mnemonic phrase, information is applied by engraving;
  • hardware cryptocurrency wallets;
  • USB storage devices with data encryption function.

You can use several options for better security of classified information.

You cannot send a mnemonic phrase to your email or messenger, use cloud storage, web wallets. Do not rely on your memory, it can fail.