Are you dreaming about a nice six-year holiday in Hawaii or the Canary Islands now that you have plenty of Bitcoins in your wallet? So you certainly wouldn’t want to lose your password to that wallet/holiday fund, would you? It’s not a problem if you do, but you need to be aware that the only way you can access your precious Bitcoins again is by breaking into your wallet. We will guide you through the process of hacking your own Bitcoin wallet, which is not recommended for rookie users or impersonated accounts.
How Is Bitcoin Stored?
Bitcoin is a cryptocurrency that originates from 1998 when Wei Dai described an idea on the cypherpunks mailing list about using cryptography to control the creation and transaction of a new currency instead of the traditional way of using a central authority.
A Bitcoin wallet is actually a collection of Bitcoin addresses, and it essentially stores the corresponding keys to those addresses. There are various forms of Bitcoin wallets, covering as broad a range as desktop and mobile apps, online services or hardware, and even paper. The level of security depends on the type of wallet you pick and the service provider.
Unfortunately, there are service providers who are unable to help you regain access to the wallet, and in this case there are three things you can do:
- Try to log in with every possible password combination you remember using.
- Use the 12-word Wallet Recovery Phrase to create a new wallet containing all of the Bitcoin addresses and balances of your previous wallet.
- Use a password cracker to hack your wallet.
What Is a Brainwallet?
A brainwallet is a cryptocurrency key created from a password or passphrase chosen by the Bitcoin wallet user. The key is turned into a 256-bit number using the SHA-256 hash algorithm. Since SHA-256 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.
How to Recover a Lost Password
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.
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.
You aren’t the first and won’t be the last to crack a Bitcoin wallet. A project called the Large Bitcoin Collider designed to hint at cryptographic collisions has been able to generate more than 3,000 trillion private keys and check them against existing Bitcoin addresses to see if they contain Bitcoin. As you might have guessed, they did.
Cracking into Bitcoin wallets isn’t new; white-hat hacker Ryan Castellucci has done it before. In a research paper entitled “Speed Optimizations in Bitcoin Key Recovery Attacks” Nicolas Courtois, Guangyan Song, and Ryan Castellucci demonstrated that they could recover 18,000 Bitcoin wallet passwords using their technique. Hackers obviously exploited the vulnerability of brainwallets, draining 884 brain wallet accounts of 1,806 Bitcoins.
How to Avoid the Uncomfortable Feeling of Hacking Your Own Bitcoin Wallet
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.
Best Password Managers of 2018