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Crypto Security How-to's

How to back up a Recovery Phrase.

There are many ways to back up a seed phrase. Familiarize yourself with the advantages and disadvantages of each.

A seed phrase or recovery phrase is a sequence of words that a cryptocurrency wallet uses to access your cryptocurrency holdings. Securely backing up your seed phrase is a very important step, because knowledge of the seed phrase effectively serves as ownership of funds.

Often, cryptocurrency wallet documentation offers limited advice about best practices to securely back up your seed phrase. A common recommendation made by wallet providers is to write down your seed phrase on paper and then store it in a safe place, but in itself, this is not sufficient protection.


TL;DR

Securely backing up your seed phrase is the most important thing you can do to keep your crypto safe.

Consider physical security, data security, and time-driven deterioration.

Options include:

- Digital Vault
- Cryptosteel
- Local computer drives.
- Cloud storage.
- "Brain wallets"
- Paper

What criteria make a seed phrase backup secure?

To be considered secure, a seed phrase backup should meet the following 3 criteria:

  • Physical security

Where will your seed phrase backup be kept? The location where the seed phrase is stored is very important, and a seed phrase written on a physical medium like paper is hard to secure. When picking a location, consider who has access to the location. Your seed phrase backup should be stored in a secure location, accessible by only you. Physical security also implies that you will not lose or forget its location - so don't hide it so well that you forget how to find it again.

  • Data security

Data security is usually accomplished via a locked safe or encryption. This serves the purpose of protecting your seed phrase if bad actors find it. As long as a bad actor does not have the key to the safe or the encryption key, your seed phrase and your crypto will remain secure.

  • Passes the "test of time"

The test of time introduces two potential threats: gradual natural decay, and the risk of destruction via disaster - like fire or flooding. Consider the risks that arise over time when formulating a backup plan that will protect your seed phrase. For example, a paper backup that is not secured in a fireproof, waterproof safe is vulnerable to both natural decay from the elements and destruction via disaster. Electronic media degrades over time, and writing can fade.

1. Back up to Digital Vault.

Vault12 is a decentralized Digital Vault that offers a very high level of security in a user-friendly mobile app. To back up your seed phrase in your Digital Vault, simply open your vault, select "Add Asset," and enter your seed phrase. In addition to your seed phrase, you can store any digital asset.

Using Vault12, your seed phrase will be encrypted, then split up into encrypted shards, and distributed to your chosen network of Guardians. Your network of Guardians can be made up of multiple devices under your control, or a network of people that you trust. This forms a mesh network of encrypted storage.

The advantages of backing up your seed phrase with Vault12 are portability, complete privacy, the ability to self-manage your backup, and redundancy - if you lose your device, you do not lose access to your seed phrase.

This solution meets all three criteria for secure backup, learn more.

2. Crypto Steel.

A highly secure way to back up your seed phrase is by permanently affixing the words to indestructible stainless steel or titanium metal plates. (Steel is more commonly used.) This approach passes the test of time, and if your house burns to the ground, your seed phrase will survive.

A few companies offer ready-made steel plates, where all you have to do is input your seed phrase onto the steel card by engraving or stamping the card with provided tools, or by sliding tiles into locking slots. If you are handy, you could even make a steel plate backup yourself.

Backing up to a steel plate is great, and avoids many of the risks of backing up to paper - but like any other physical medium, you must prevent unauthorized people from accessing the plate. Keep it in a safe place and consider encrypting the seed phrase before committing to steel.

This method is primarily subject to the risk of physical security.

Learn more about backing up to Cryptosteel.

3. Encrypted local drive / USB.

Storing your seed phrase on a locally-stored encrypted drive offers a high level of data security since it ensures that only you have access to your seed phrase, but does not offer a very high level of protection against other risks.

Encrypting data is the digital equivalent of storing data in a physical safe. When you encrypt a local drive that holds your seed phrase, a key or password will be needed to regain access to it (depending on what tool you choose to perform the encryption). Do not store the encrypted drive and the encryption key together, and do not lose the key/password!

This option offers flexibility in the choices available for the physical drive, and the method used to encrypt its contents. Not all encryption is created equal - always make sure that you choose a standards-based and strong encryption protocol.

For example, you could password-protect your encrypted local drive that holds your seed phrase, and back up the drive's encryption password somewhere like Vault12. However, with this kind of backup strategy, when the encrypted drive physical media fails, your safely-secured password that would decrypt that failed drive would not reunite you with your cryptocurrency seed phrase. Be careful with complex backup solutions.

This method holds some risk of each of the three criteria of secure backup. Learn more.

4. Cloud storage.

If you choose to store your seed phrase on physical media, it could be secure, but if you don't carry it with you everywhere (which would come with its own risks), you will be out of luck if you need it while away from home. Cloud storage gives you a much more accessible option. However, putting your unencrypted seed phrase on a Cloud drive is absolutely not secure. You must encrypt the seed phrase first - that way, even if someone is able to access the file on the drive, it cannot be used.

The most significant risks related to cloud storage of an encrypted seed phrase are related to the loss or unintended disclosure of the encryption password (data security). Learn more.

5. Brain Wallet.

This is by far the riskiest form of backing up your seed phrase. If you forget your seed phrase, you have to rely on your memory to retrieve it. When relying on human memory, there is a high likelihood over time that even you will be locked out from accessing your seed phrase. The benefit is that the process is completely offline (at least until Elon Musk is able to hack the human brain). Proceed with extreme caution.

If you plan to go down this route, it is a good idea to use a mnenomic of some sort, like a poem or a song where each word in your seed phrase represents the first line of the poem or song. This can help with memorization.

If you have a photographic memory, and you have never forgotten anything in your entire life, you could think of using your brain to backup your seed phrase. To do this, simply memorize your seed phrase. Of course, there is still a risk that you will someday suffer a brain injury, mental illness, or form of dementia that would cause you to lose your memory of your seed phrase.

This method has such a high level of risk from the "test of time" criterion that it must be stated twice - proceed with extreme caution. Learn more.

 Paper.

The most common method of backing up your seed phrase is using paper. The guidance provided with many wallets counsel you to write your seed phrase on a piece of paper, however paper alone is not a secure method. If you really want to use paper, it is necessary to take extra safety precautions. The paper your seed phrase is written on must be stored in a locked safe, at the very least.

This method holds some risk of each of the three criteria of secure backup. Learn more.

Recover, Back Up, and Inherit Digital Assets

(including Cryptocurrency Seeds, NFTs and Art)

Every digital asset you own should be backed up, protected and remain accessible. Cryptocurrency in particular is difficult to secure. With natural disasters, hackers, to badly implemented security, you are always at the mercy of others.

Vault12 Personal Digital Asset Security helps you recover, backup and provide legacy inheritance for all your digital assets, including Bitcoin, Ethereum, NFTs, other cryptocurrencies, private keys, seed phrases, digital art and of course, your crypto wallets.


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Recover, Back Up, and Inherit Digital Assets

Introducing Digital Inheritance

Pass on your Digital Assets to future generations

Vault12 Digital Inheritance is the first solution to offer a simple, direct, and secure way to ensure digital assets can be accessed by future generations. Digital Inheritance enables investors to designate an individual who will inherit their entire portfolio of digital assets stored in a secure Vault once the time comes, eliminating undue risk and the need to continually update an inventory or continually issue updated instructions.


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Personal Security for your Cryptocurrency and Digital Assets

Designed to be used alongside traditional hardware, software and online wallets, Vault12 helps cryptocurrency owners, ICO investors, professional cryptocurrency traders, and high net worth investors safeguard their digital assets without storing anything in the cloud or in fact any one single location. This increases the protection and decreases the risks of loss.


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Personal Security for your Cryptocurrency and Digital Assets

Easy to setup, easy to secure, easy to access.

A digital Vault containing your digital assets is assigned to trusted people or devices, known as Guardians. Your Guardians can be adjusted as needed in real-time so that the appropriate number are always guarding your digital assets. No one can access your assets and only you get access when you need.


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The Winklevosses came up with an elaborate system to store and secure their private keys. They cut up printouts of their private keys into pieces and then distributed them in envelopes to safe deposit boxes around the country, so if one envelope were stolen the thief would not have the entire key.

Nathaniel Popper, New York Times, December 19, 2017

20% of all Bitcoin is lost forever. That's $20B, in fact, in 2018 alone, $1.1B has been stolen.

Elliott Krause, The Wall Street Journal, July 5, 2018

The idea behind Vault12 is how do we essentially split that responsibility, make that problem of key control less a technological one by essentially making it into a social one with networks of people that they trust.

Terence Spies, former CTO, HP Enterprise, Data Security

Exchanges are the main target for hackers. Those are the biggest honeypots. So the number one rule in Crypto is, do not keep your money on an exchange, and if you're going to custody that money, you need to do it off of the exchange with a product like Vault12.

Joe DiPasquale, BitBull Capital

Security and usability are inextricably linked, the former cannot exist without the latter. Vault12 understands the need for end-to-end management of this experience as well as the importance of integrating into the prevailing crypto ecosystem

Sathvik Krishnamurthy, Founder and Managing Partner, Security Leadership Capital

As we move to a more open financial system driven by advanced blockchain technology and cryptocurrency, we need smarter ways to ensure that the system is trustworthy. Vault12 does this by addressing a foundational need -- ensuring that your crypto assets are not only protected by decentralized security, but also by your trusted inner circle. Your private key never exists in one place or with one entity, reducing risks from hackers as well as everyday accidents.

Vinny Lingham, Entrepreneur and Advisor

Security is the lifeblood of industry, commerce, and leisure. As more people use decentralized applications, they will need a way to back up their crypto wallets and exchange accounts. Vault12 provides a simple and natural way to reduce risks and combat the fear of forgetting seed phrases and private keys.

Jon Callaghan, co-founder of True Ventures

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