You Can Now Store Your Bitcoin Private Key as Colors
July 11, 2023

You Can Now Store Your Bitcoin Private Key as Colors

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Forget lists of words and alphanumeric strings: a new Bitcoin tool lets you hide the key to your coins inside a rainbow.

Bitcoin developer Entero Positivo launched “BIP39Colors” last month, an open-source tool that can convert one’s BIP39 mnemonic phrase into a series of colors, and vice versa.

“With this method, you can convert your 12-word phrase to 8 colors (or your 24-word phrase to 16 colors),” explained Positivo to Decrypt via DM. “Then you can convert your colors back to your original seed.”

BIP39 is a standard for generating one’s seed phrase, an ordered set of 12 to 24 words that contains the information necessary to create a private key, which is used to create and access one’s Bitcoin wallet.

The standardization of mnemonic phrases was meant to make it easier for users to recover their crypto in case they lose their wallet device, converting their complex private key into a set of readable words.

Most wallet providers today encourage users to write their 12 words on a sheet of paper as backup, and to keep anyone else from seeing it. As Positivo explains, however, storing one’s crypto as a list of 12 words is very obvious to hackers or thieves who come across the list.

Colors, by contrast, “are everywhere.” A private key could be hidden in plain sight, and a thief wouldn’t be the wiser.

“A paper with 12 words is more suspicious than a color palette labeled like ‘my new home wall colors,’ for example, or inside a styles.css of your [website],” he said.

The colors generated by the tool are expressed as a hex color code, a six-digit system that represents virtually any color as some combination of red, blue, and green. These colors can be stored across “several files,” Positivo explained, including HTML, CSS, or the color palette of a PNG.

Unlike the word-based system, one need not remember the “order” of the colors to recover one’s seed: all that matters is that all colors are present. The developer believes the flexibility of this storage method could make it more difficult for governments to seize someone’s Bitcoin.

“You can give one color to your mother, another inside your [website], another one written in a web design book… and in the future recover your seed from these agnostic colors,” he wrote.

The developer also provided instructions for how to decode one’s BIP39 colors back into their mnemonic phrase with only a calculator, not requiring any external tool.

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