Bitcoin - Be your own bank, think like a bank
Few methods about how to stash securely your bitcoins
Esta guia tambien esta disponible en Español aqui.
Ok, well, we already have some BTC in our wallets. It is time to know how to protect them well, and here we will present some basic procedures.
NOT YOUR KEYS – NOT YOUR BITCOINS. Yes, custody of your keys (seeds) is the most important aspect for Bitcoin owners. So please, DO NOT use “banks for your BTC”. In Bitcoinlandia YOU are your own bank. Custodial BTC wallets is what exactly can kill Bitcoin - losing control of your own money is going back to fiat money and fractional reserves.
You have to stop acting as usual with the banks: “oh well I put the money in a bank and they take care of everything …” Bad, very bad this type of thinking. Bitcoin is PROPERTY and must be treated as something yours, personal, not transferable. So learn to use it well and very important: protect it.
Start learning this technology. Stop crying and saying that “I am not capable of doing this” or that “technology is not good for me”, these are just excuses and it does not solve anything. Put yourself together and learn how to use this technology. If you manage the fucking Facebook, well, you also be able to manage your BTC. If you do not understand this aspect, then Bitcoin is not for you. If you ignore this aspect, you will lose ALL your BTC. This is not a joke!
Backups. NEVER have only one copy of your backup copy of your seed/ keys. Always make more than one copy and keep it in different places. You never know what will happen to you and your keys.
As a general rule we recommend separating your BTC into three levels of stashing:
A. HODL - your "central bank", savings, most of your stash
B. Cache - your "commercial bank", operations center, medium size of stash
C. SPEDNL/mobile - your spending pockets of cash, daily use, small amounts
Each part has its protection methods and you have to think like a new banker, now you are managing your bank and a bank always has different levels of volume and access.
As you will see there are so many ways to keep safe your bitcoins, imagination do not have limits and technology back it up.
Be your own bank - Think like a bank and act like a bank
A. HODL wallets - savings - central bank
This is your “central bank”, the one that has most of your savings, your treasure, the “fattest” part of your money, that you are not going to move it for a long time, that stays there waiting for the moment when you really need it.
These wallets are the ones that are normally almost never connected to the online world. Online wallets are always exposed to phishing attacks, malware, key theft, device hacking. People lose their BTC, because they lose control over their devices, NOT because BTC wallets are not secure. Almost all wallets are safe and offer more advanced security options or less. But the weak point is in the user who does not perform the security steps.
Here you only deposit the BTC that you think you are not going to move, for a long time. You can use also their XPUB as "read only" wallets to only deposit there, so no need to "open" the wallet to online world. Here you have a guide about how to use watch-only wallets using the MPK (Master Public Key).
But you do not deposit here directly from the sources of income (exchanges, ATMs, sales etc). Here, in HODL, they come (only) after you have done a good coin control and “cleaning” in the "cache level". We will talk about this cleaning in another dedicated guide, which is called “mixing / coinjoin with wasabi / samourai“. You can also have a procedure named "Lightning Cleaning Machine" (LN), that was explained more or less into this guide.
Examples of HODL wallets:
Hardware wallet (HW). It is like a USB memory and inside it has a security chip that saves and control your seed/keys. When using it, at the time of doing some tx, it asks for a password/PIN. The best known are: ColdCard, Ledger, Trezor, KeepKey, OpenDime. A complete list of HW here. These are the easiest wallets to use for people who do not want to worry much about security and are less techy, but who do not want to leave this aspect in the hands of others.
Paper / steel Wallets. These are wallets in which you write the keywords and keep this medium, whether it is paper or steel, in a safe place, with copies if you can, better.
Steganography. It is an advanced method of hiding your keys inside an image or document file. It is based on an algorithm of introducing additional bits to a file and protecting it with a password. This can be done with several applications and the simplest and most open source is OpenStego.
I can send this photo to anyone (it is necessary without digital alterations/ compression) anywhere in the world, without anyone knowing that this photo contains 1BTC. Or I can even have it as a desktop background or in a digital photo frame-box. In PLAIN sight! But always with copies!
TailsOS. Is a simple version of Linux, installed on a bootable USB memory stick. You can also use it as your own emergency OS and use any other wallet. If your PC is infected or you are not sure of its “cleanliness” or you are simply using another PC that is not yours and you do not want to leave “traces” with your BTC (public PCs or other people), then you simply connect this USB and boot with TailOS as if it were your PC. Sure, you have to know how to boot a PC with a USB and NOT with its hard drive OS. A presentation on TailOS here.
Keep in mind: this OS is read only so nothing is saved on the stick. On this OS stick you can configure also a persistent partition, hidden, where you can save data and/or store copies of your wallets. This partition is encrypted with a password you choose at its creation. Here you have a guide about that.
TailsOS also come with already installed Electrum wallet and KeePass app. So you are ready to go and use them as emergency access to your bitcoins. You can use this "mobile OS" anytime, anywhere, safe and clean without depending on any other OS in any PC.
USB stick memory. If so, a simple USB memory, but BEWARE, encrypted. If you don’t want to spend money on expensive HW, you can use any USB memory (with copies!) where you can store your data on your BTC wallets. There you can put your kdbx file from the password manager (KeePass), or simply files with your copies of wallets/data. I remind you: DO NOT LEAVE this memory open, always keep it encrypted. Here is an example of how to encrypt a USB memory with Windows, and how to encrypt a USB memory with Ubuntu Linux.
Madness in plain sight! What if I tell you that I have on 3 websites on the internet, in plain view of all, in some texts, such as this page for example, where within the text, I have inserted 12 words of a seed? Because that’s. You can simply use the 12 words in English, which are from the linguistic dictionary, to write a beautiful text, a love letter, a story, a literary work, a blog etc. and only YOU know the position and order of these words. Let’s say you already have a HW, but you’ve lost it. Well, if you already have the words of the recovery seed in a text published somewhere online, then you simply access this text and extract them. You do the same if you want to send someone BTC, but you don’t want anyone to know, absolutely no one. You simply send him this text as an email. Nobody is going to realize that it can contain the keys. Even if you think about it, they have many years of trying until they can find the order …
Phrase within another sentence. Another little madness, you can use, for example, a phrase from your text “Madness in plain sight” and put it in Passphrase.io This algorithm (which is open source and you can take it offline if you want) makes an encryption of this text resulting in another text. An example: I put in passphrase.io the text “this is a test”, which turns it into “this is my 12 word password”. So again hiding text in plain sight but this time a little more “hidden”. They also have a mobile version.
B. Cache wallets - Operations Center - Commercial Bank
Here is the site of “management”, the “commercial bank” intermediary. Here you receive most or all of the largest income in BTC, to be able to categorize and control them. Here you receive from exchanges, when you exchange fiat money for BTC, here you receive from sales of your products/services with your website/business.
From here you start moving parts of your BTC: in HODL or in SPEDNL mobile wallets or simply leave them here in the middle, for the next necessary movements.
Normally these are wallets that are used on PC, desktop wallets, due to the functionalities of the available applications and the higher level of security than a mobile wallet.
On this level also stays the node wallets (BTC and/or LN). A node is also a place where you can operate your mixing/coinjoin/ Lightning cleaning machine and move funds into LN channels.
Examples of cache wallets:
Electrum – one of the best and easy to use for this type of transaction. It has coin control, address labels, master password to enter the app, it has change control, fee control and other very good features. Now also the new version has LN support so you can use trampoline channels or simply open private LN channels with your own node.
Wasabi – one of the BEST of the best in terms of privacy of your BTC transactions. With this you can manage the BTC that you have bought from KYC exchanges and want to lose tracking. This is for “advanced”.
Specter – Is a desktop software application, which connects to your Bitcoin Core node. Specter Desktop functions as a watch-only coordinator for multi- signature and single-key Bitcoin wallets. Very powerful and safe wallet app.
Fully Noded – Self sovereign, secure, powerful, easy to use wallet that utilizes your own Bitcoin Core node as a backend. Providing an easy to use interface to interact with your nodes non wallet capabilities
Sparrow – is also unique in that it contains a fully featured transaction editor that also functions as a blockchain explorer. This feature not only allows easy editing of all of a transaction’s fields, (including for example locktime and sequence), but importantly viewing the hexadecimal representation of the transaction at all times with detailed highlighting.
Nunchuk - Multisig wallet, safest self-custody solution, privacy oriented app, multi-device sync, air-gapped signing, software key, connect to own node, for all major platform OS.
Bitcoin Core – it is a Wallet Node, also with coin control, labels, fee control. But it is also for a little more advanced, and it needs a lot of space on your hard drive because it is downloading an entire copy of the blockchain, and it works with this copy always, which is also then synchronized with the entire Bitcoin network, always downloading the last blocks. This wallet also serves to verify transactions and include them in the blockchain. But this is done automatically, you as a user do not have to worry about this.
Zap Desktop - powerful onchain/LN/node wallet with a simple interface to connect to your own BTC/LN node.
Bluewallet Desktop - only for Mac users, same capabilities as mobile version
Lightning App - nice and simple desktop app for Lightning neutrino node, from Lightning Labs.
Bitcoin / LN Nodes - there are many software solutions for running a node (here a dedicated guide about this), from which we can mention: myNodeBTC, Umbrel, Embassy, RaspiBlitz, NODL. Use your node onchain wallet only as a ramp-on for funding your LN channels. Use one UTXO/channel open.
BTCPay Server - your own node, your own payment processor, powerful tool for merchants and webshops
C. SPEDNL wallets - Mobile - daily spending
These are your “pockets” from day to day, where you normally spend and it is recommended with LN (Lightning Network)
Here, is not necessary to have large amounts of BTC, only what you think you are going to spend in a short period of time.
It is not because you think that mobile wallets are not safe. No, these are as safe as others, but mobiles are often lost, broken, stolen etc. And it is not very comfortable and recommended to walk with all your BTC on a mobile. Also if someone (bad) sees that you have many BTC on your mobile (sneaking on your back paying with sats), they can rob you, threaten you, etc. Better to play the role of “poor man” who does not have much.
Examples of SPEDNL wallets:
Blue Wallet – a double wallet too, onchain and LN, supports LNURL, LNDHUB wallets, custodial channel, proprietary channels, Tor, connect to own node, coin control, payjoin etc. More options described in this dedicated guide with LNDHUB.
Nayuta Core - simple full node neutrino wallet, using your own mobile as a node
Phoenix Acinq wallet – one of the most simple and easy to use, for newbies, unique interface for onchain and LN
Muun wallet - simple, fast use for LN, similar as Phoenix, onchain / LN
Breez wallet - simple, intuitive, onchain/LN, podcasting, custodial channels
Wallet of Satoshi - fully custodial LN wallet, but very easy to use
Zap – double wallet, onchain and LN, but works only with own node
Spark – double wallet, onchain and LN, but it works only with your own node
Fully Noded - node wallet management, only for iOS
Electrum – if you want the functionalities of the Electrum desktop, here you have its mobile brother, you can also use the same desktop seed/wallet, but not sharing same LN channels
Eclair Wallet – one of the first LN wallets, very good. Only Android
Samourai – very good for more privacy and coin control, does NOT support LN
Green Wallet – very good and secure, multisig, does NOT support LN
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