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What Are Crypto Brain Wallets?

Software, hardware, paper — almost anything can function as a crypto wallet. Even your brain. A brain wallet is a type of crypto cold storage in the form of a memorized private key or seed phrase.

Gemini-What Are Crypto Brain Wallets

Summary

A brain wallet is a type of crypto cold storage in the form of a memorized private key or seed phrase. Originally, a brain wallet was a hexadecimal string. Now, brain wallets can be stored as a sequence of 12-24 words (often called a mnemonic). While they draw interest and fascination, the consensus opinion is that this storage method for bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies is not a secure or practical option.

Software, hardware, paper — almost anything can function as a crypto wallet. Even your brain. Can you send and receive crypto through sheer brain power? Not quite, but you can memorize the private key that can access the funds. 

A brain wallet is a type of crypto cold storage in the form of a memorized private key or seed phrase. Originally, a brain wallet was a hexadecimal string. Now, brain wallets can be stored as a sequence of 12-24 words (often called a mnemonic). While they draw interest and fascination, the consensus opinion is that this storage method for bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies is not a secure or practical option.

Cons of Using a Brain Wallet

Most experts would say not to use a brain wallet. If you’ve ever forgotten an important password, crypto brain wallets aren’t for you. While customer support will help you reset your bank password, you can’t email Satoshi Nakamoto (the pseudonymous creator of Bitcoin) and request a copy of your brain wallet. Beyond this, if you were to become incapacitated or suffer memory loss, your brain wallet would disappear. And if you die, you can’t posthumously donate your cryptocurrency or pass it down as an inheritance.

Further, writing down physical copies of your brain wallet defeats the purpose of a brain wallet. And if the copy of your brain wallet is another brain wallet (i.e., someone else’s brain), that person can access your private keys and crypto. No matter how much you trust someone, having them memorize your private key isn’t a great solution. Even if they would never steal your crypto, they could still forget your brain wallet. You will also need to generate a secure crypto brain wallet. Humans can’t be trusted to create phrases with sufficient randomness — and don’t even think about using your favorite poem or song lyric. There are programs constantly scanning the blockchain for easy-to-crack brain wallets. One researcher created some wallets from song lyrics and book passages, all of which were cracked in a day. One was cracked in under a second. 

Instead of a brain wallet, you could email yourself an encrypted backup of your private key or very carefully store a paper wallet somewhere. Or better yet, you can buy a hardware wallet and save yourself the hassle.

Pros of Using a Brain Wallet

If everything goes according to plan —  your private key or seed phrase is completely memorized and generated securely — your brain wallet would be impenetrable. A brain wallet is immune to both online and offline attacks — which might make it appealing for someone who is especially worried about security. Of course, since  our brains aren’t connected to the internet, online hacks aren’t possible.

Beyond the cool factor of being able to store any amount of crypto between your ears, there are extreme situations where a brain wallet could be considered: in the case of fleeing a country, civil unrest, wealth confiscation, and so on. Airport security, border checkpoints, and military patdown searches aren’t going to find your brain wallet. The only vulnerability would be someone forcing you to give up your brain wallet — if they even know you have one. 

Last but not least, brain wallets are absolutely free.

How to Make a Brain Wallet

Brain wallets have waned in popularity, but you can still create them. One simple way is to create a paper wallet, memorize it, and get rid of the paper. If you were actually planning on storing significant amounts of cryptocurrency in a brain wallet, you should make sure to use a trusted key generator and generate your keys offline. 

Your Crypto Is Too Important to Trust to Memory Alone 

Brain wallets, like paper wallets, garner a lot of attention and curiosity. However, they shouldn’t be seriously considered for storing significant amounts of cryptocurrency. 

While they are immune to online hacks and physical confiscation, they also can’t be copied without undermining their greatest strength. If something were to happen to you, your brain wallet would be gone — and any funds associated with it would be inaccessible.

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