Seed phrase (mnemonic code) — with the help of this magic set of words, a crypto investor can regain lost access to his wallet with electronic savings.
A seed phrase (mnemonic phrase, mnemonic code, secret, or backup phrase) is a mnemonic password, a list of code words that stores the information necessary to restore access to the crypto wallet.
Seed Phrase: How It Works
In cryptography, each word of the mnemonic code corresponds to a specific number. When using a cryptocurrency wallet, the mnemonic phrase used is converted into a large random number that generates all the key pairs for the wallet. In other words, the seed phrase is a means to deploy private keys.
Using a cryptographic procedure called “hierarchical deterministic wallet”, the seed phrase is converted into a master key, from which the private and public keys are deployed in a deterministic sequence.
Using the seed phrase will restore access to the user’s funds in case of a broken electronic device or, for example, when the user has deleted the wallet program or lost the wallet password altogether. As long as the owner has the seed of the wallet, he can restore all wallet addresses and their balance. This method of restoring an electronic wallet is very convenient and simple. In the case of loss of access to a crypto wallet, it is this sequence of code words that will help restore everything: the algorithms will ask to enter words from the list under certain numbers, after which the user will restore control over his digital assets.
The seed phrase is not bound to any specific cryptocurrency and can be used to access the entire digital asset portfolio. The seed phrase is usually generated when setting up a cryptocurrency wallet. It is important not to miss this moment at the beginning of work with the wallet.
To work with cryptocurrency wallets, a mnemonic phrase is used, usually consisting of 12, 18, or 24 words.
Developers were working on their solutions in parallel and at the same time released products that could not be imported into each other. Now TON Surf and TON Crystal Wallet programmers have improved their products and developed wallets in which you can upload previously created wallets with seed phrases of twelve and twenty-four words.
Seed Phrase: The Principle Of Generation
There are several standards used by wallets to interact with the seed phrase.
Let’s consider the generation of a mnemonic phrase based on the BIP39 standard. The BIP39 vocabulary consists of 2048 words. The uniqueness of words by the first four characters is mandatory for the dictionary.
It is important to understand that the mnemonic phrase used in hierarchical deterministic wallets is based on a random sequence. The random number can be generated on the computer or by flipping a coin. For example, to get a random 128-bit number, you need to flip a coin 128 times, if it came up tails, we write 1, and heads — 0.
Let’s consider the principle of creating a 12-word mnemonic phrase according to the BIP39 standard:
- A random 128-bit sequence (entropy) is generated. Remember that a bit is a unit of information that takes only two values — 1 or 0.
- A checksum of a random sequence is generated. The first four bits of its SHA256 hash function are used. These four bits are added to the end of the initial random sequence.
- The resulting random sequence is divided into 11-bit sections.
- Each section is converted from binary to 2048 (because 2048 is 211).
- The result of indexing is a 12-word mnemonic phrase.
Safe And Risky Ways To Store A Mnemonic Phrase
The seed phrase should be carefully protected and the way it is stored should be treated with extreme care and caution so that you do not lose all your electronic savings because of an insecure seed phrase storage. The protection of the cryptocurrency wallet and its security is the first thing the owner of digital assets should pay attention to.
There are the following secure options for storing a secret phrase:
- engraving of seed-phrases on a stone or a metal plate, on a coin, special Cryptosteel or Billfodl devices are also used;
- write the seed key on paper and store it in a safe or in a safe deposit box;
- use memory techniques and keep the secret phrase in your memory;
- on a flash drive as a screenshot, photo, or pdf file.
None of these methods guarantees a 100% security of the secret phrase. It is better to combine these methods.
Insecure ways to store seed phrases: on electronic media, in email, in a password manager, in Google docs, and in cloud services.
Are there any disadvantages to using the seed phrase? Of course, but they are related to negligence, to the human factor of users. If the seed phrase is lost or forgotten, the owner’s access to the cryptocurrency wallet and to the digital assets is lost FOREVER.
That is why when using a seed phrase to work with a cryptocurrency wallet, never forget about crypto security measures, make sure that the mnemonic phrase never gets into the hands of third parties and third-party Internet services, and also choose several optimal ways to store the seed phrase.