"Not your keys, not your crypto"

With centralized exchange debacles like those involving FTX, Celsius, Mt. Gox and Bitfinex, it's been proven over and over again that allowing someone else custody over your digital assets is risky business.

The more they learn, the more crypto users move away from centralized custodial wallets. But a little education goes a long way.

Read on this helpful guide about how to secure your seed phrase and keep your crypto in your wallet, where it belongs. 

Your Seed Phrase: Bits of Prime Importance

A seed phrase is a mnemonic code for generating deterministic keys. It can be 12 or 24 words derived from a specific list, called the BIP-39 word list, as seen here.  This seed phrase is then converted into binary seeds. Your crypto wallet uses them to generate a random set of keys that encrypt or decrypt cryptocurrency transactions. Although first used for Bitcoin wallets, wallets on every blockchain make use of the BIP-39 word list.  

But the most important thing you need to know about seed phrases after reading this article is to understand that a seed phrase is otherwise known as a recovery phrase for good reason. It's the only way you can recover your crypto wallet if it is lost or damaged. Hot wallet, cold wallet, lukewarm wallet (just kidding), it doesn't matter. If your Ledger melts (true story, hi) or your phone gets wiped, you can regain access to your crypto wallet by entering your recovery phrase into the crypto wallet browser extension. But even then, you need to make sure you're entering your seed phrase into a valid UI, or you're setting yourself up to be hacked.  ChainGPT's CryptoGuard security browser extension is a great way to check. 

Never give your seed phrase to anyone online, especially when requested in direct message or email. Learn more about how to protect yourself from crypto scams here

That's why this is Rule #1 when it comes to self-custody of your crypto assets: Have an offline seed phrase backup method. Self-custody wallet providers do not have a record of your seed phrase. They cannot help you get your digital assets back if you lose it. Again, if you lose access to your crypto wallet and you don't have your seed phrase, kiss anything you had in that wallet goodbye. 

The Road To Recovery: Back It Up, Pack It In

As soon as you create a new wallet, write down the seed phrase and the private key. Maggie Love of SheFi  suggests writing this information down and making several copies to secure your ability to recover access to your crypto wallet. Then, take photos of what you've written (with the Internet deactivated on whatever device you're using to take the photos) and store them on USB drives that are never connected to the Internet. 

But it's imperative that these copies are placed in secure locations: safe-deposit boxes, fire-proof safes, under your mattress (kidding, kidding). You need to know where these seed phrase, or recovery phrase backups are at all times. Make sure that no one else does, unless they are your trusted friends or family members whom you've designated access to in case of your incapacitation or demise. 

“I could just write my seed phrase on a piece of paper and take it with me,” - Fadey, Ukrainian war refugee. Read how saving his seed phrase got him out of Ukraine before the draft.

Here are some other methods people have used to secure seed phrases:

  1. Brain Wallets: That's a tongue-in-cheek term for memorization. Not recommended.

  2. Metal Engravings: Many people choose to secure their seed phrases by using products like Cryptosteel and Blockplate. Cryptosteel is a metal gadget that stores a seed phrase or password composed of 24 words abbreviated to the first four letters. Blockplate is just one steel plate to punch your seed phrase onto with an engraver. Jameson Lopp, Professional Cypherpunk & Casa Co-founder/CTO, tested many of these metal crypto seed storage providers, but I can't recommend these in any capacity as I have never used these.
  3. Tattoos: There have been rumors online that people actually tattoo their seed phrases onto themselves, but this is probably an urban legend. Still, it made for an entertaining Reddit thread.

  4. Frankly, this person wins the Internet when it comes to a comically labyrinthine method you can use to secure your seed phrase. You know he's kidding, but you're not sure if he's only half kidding:

Keep Your Seed Phrase Storage Offline

If you store your seed phrase or the passwords that access the wallets they are attached to anywhere that is connected to the Internet (cloud services, your own hard drive, within emails, etc.) you put yourself at much more risk of a drained wallet. Don't. 

In Conclusion

If you want to secure your cryptocurrency wallets, you need to secure your seed phrase. Securing your seed phrase is the most important step you can take to protecting your digital assets. Immediately after you make a new wallet, write the seed phrase and private key down by hand. Store this record and any other copies of this record offline, in a safe location. 

We gave you the information you need to know. So don't be the crypto bro memes make fun of.

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