Public and private keys are the main elements of any Bitcoin or cryptocurrency wallet. The protection of your private keys is essential to keeping your money safe, yet some enthusiasts don’t store them correctly. Here we will explain what public and private keys are and how you can protect them.
What is a Bitcoin private key
A Bitcoin private key is an alphanumeric digital password encrypted in different formats in accordance with the wallet you use. The private key can be presented in different forms. Usually, this is a set of randomly generated numbers and symbols, the number of which varies, which makes it difficult to hack. Here’s an example of a Bitcoin private key:
What is a Bitcoin public key
A public key aka a public address is your unique Bitcoin address, which is used for blockchain transactions. Every participant of the network can see it. It usually consists of 26-34 symbols – random numbers and letters – and generated on the basis of your private key. It identifies the sender and receiver of money.
Usually, a public key starts with the number “1” and requires the additional entrance of a private key in order to access money. There’s a multisig public key which starts with “3” and needs several private keys to access funds.
Public key: 1DSsgJdB2FwPaFMhDbv4MZC2m72226JafGMultisig Public key: 3J67t1TREk25MZvQviecrnyiWadfThYMXe
The connection between private and public keys
The combination of public and private keys works to safely store cryptocurrency. The public key is the address of your wallet and the private key works as a password. The public key is tied to a single private key (or set of private keys in case of multisig) and vise versa.
How private keys are used
The private key has two main functions for your Bitcoin wallet. It is the main element that gives you ownership and control over your wallet and funds. A private key grants access to funds. Whoever owns the key has access to the money in question and full control over it. A Bitcoin private key cannot be restored or retrieved again if it is lost; with it will go access to your funds.
The second function of the private key is as a digital signature for transactions. As we’ve already mentioned, each private key is tied to a unique public key. When you make a transaction, the network checks if your public key corresponds to your private key. As soon as the necessary number of approvals is received, the money will be made available to the payee.
How to get and store a Bitcoin private key
If you use a web, desktop or mobile wallet the private key is generated automatically. The only thing you need to do is find a way to store it. One of the safest ways to store your private keys is offline on cold storage:
On a piece of paper or metal – this method is familiar to people with paper wallets, however anyone can store their key this way by copying it on a piece of paper. This method is not really secure enough as you can simply lose it, paper can wear, etc. For better protection, you can laminate it or make a copy on a metal plate.
On a USB-Flash Drive – this is one of the safest methods of storage. You need to use a new flash drive without viruses and perform transactions offline. You can keep your keys there as a text document or a file in wallet.dat format. Should you do this, your files should be password protected.
Hardware wallet – it is a special offline wallet for storing Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. It keeps your private keys offline on a special Flash-Drive look-alike device. Any time you want to make an operation with your coins you have connect this device to your computer.
Today, a hardware wallet is the safest way to store Bitcoin and other cryptocurrency assets. What makes it so safe? Firstly, the device comes with preinstalled software and works like a USB device, which creates a new layer of security. Secondly, the capabilities of the hardware wallet are much richer, and multi-signature is quite an essential feature.
What if I lose my private keys
If you’ve lost access to your wallet you shouldn’t worry. Most wallets have a special recovery phrase. It is a set of 12-24 random words that you should memorize or save to recover your Bitcoin wallet.
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Unfortunately, if you lose this phrase too you will lose your money forever. Many users forget or lose their recovery seed phrase without a chance to get their money back. So here comes Freewallet.
Keep your private keys safely with Freewallet
With Freewallet you can’t lose your private keys or forget your seed phrase – because there’s no keys or recovery phrase. How is it possible?
- We keep your private keys on our side and provide you with a full backup of your wallet.
- If you lose your phone or access to the account you can easily restore it from any other device by getting in touch with our support team.
- We strive to offer a new and convenient way of storing crypto that works for everyone without sacrificing security.
Freewallet uses a cold storage system to keep user money safe and protected from hackers. To make your experience convenient we combined cold storages with an online wallet, so you can access and manage your money using a mobile phone or desktop wherever and whenever you want. When crypto appears on an online wallet it gets transferred to offline cold storage and vice-versa.
Have doubts? Feel free to try it out right now. Just sign-up with your email, phone number, Facebook or Google account to Freewallet: Crypto Wallet and enjoy cryptocurrency easily.