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Author Topic: Going to Computer Store to Fix Laptop... What to do with bitcoin in Electrum  (Read 429 times)
viking02
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September 03, 2016, 04:14:08 AM
 #1

my laptop has lot of issues where its going crazy.  basically mouse/keyboard seems to click all over the place.  i use laptop connected with an external monitor and external keyboard.  i rarely use laptop by itself and thus the laptop keyboard.  i notice the keyboard laptop doesnt even work many times.  because of this, i want to bring my laptop to a repair shop for them to look at it.


i have a lot of bitcoin in my electrum wallet.  i store my passwords in keepass but issue is many times after opening keepass... it has this popup that says create entry over and over again where i cannot even view my passwords etc. i did keep copy of it in a usb though and also written a bit but not all.  my question is ... is it safe to bring your laptop to a repair shop where you have bitcoins on it... or should i send the bitcoins to say blockchain for example and keep it all there in the meantime  can a repair shop install something in your laptop that has a bitcoin wallet in it and hack it


i do have my electrum password and also that long phrase seed as well.  i read that you can restore electrum with the word phrase seed.  so what should i do here  my laptop has to get looked at.  i mean even if i send the bitcoin to blockchain and keep no bitcoin on electrum, is that okay  the thing is i dont know if they might open up my laptop etc and if they do this, like what if something goes wrong with my laptop and it cant turn on etc if you know what i mean.   and for those people who have bitcoin wallets, i assume its rare for a computer repair shop to do any hacking of some sort on your computer etc....


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September 03, 2016, 04:46:34 AM
 #2

You should move all of your Bitcoin to a wallet whose private keys have never been exposed to your laptop. Once you receive your laptop back from the repair shop, you should never trust that wallet again and consider it compromised. You describe several ways that you can protect yourself in the event of dataloss while your computer is at the repair shop, however this will not prevent the technician from stealing your Bitcoin, even if you have a strong password. It is possible that the technician could copy your wallet file and then later invest resources into cracking your wallet password.

To an extent, you might not want to trust that laptop with any of your private keys ever again. It is possible that the technician could see that you are involved in Bitcoin and install some kind of malware that either will transmit your private keys, mess with your random number generation, or something else that could result in your future Bitcoin getting stolen. This is somewhat less of a risk because it would be much easier to detect, making it more risky on the technician, and would require a higher level of premeditation on the part of the technician.

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September 03, 2016, 05:18:50 AM
 #3

hi thanks for the response.  well i could send the bitcoin to blockchain.   i have logged into my blockchain account before but i do not believe i ever sent any bitcoin to blockchain even once.  so would that be fine or not


here is my other issue.  i play online poker and bet sports and also some sites i use bitcoin to deposit/withdraw to these sites.  so i should make sure i erase my username from the login etc  or would that not be enough


has there been cases where someone went to computer repair place to fix computer and had bitcoin in their wallet then bitcoin no longer there... has there been case where the guy sent the bitcoin to say another wallet like blockchain... only for later on their bitcoin to be gone later on and then the only reason it could be was b/c of computer repair place.  because this sound very frustrating then... such that i have to get computer looked at since it has tons of problems.  i mean... i have lot of poker programs installed and its on my desktop.  so you want me to delete all those  thing is i dont want to reinstall it again... i mean maybe just delete the shortcuts on the desktop... but you could find it on start etc though


i like to know have there been cases where someone could install malware into someones laptop and then later on take their bitcoin... do you know of any specific cases


i have heard of cases where poker players laptops got malware installed etc and they got hacked or they were playing against another guy who hacked their computer etc


but the bitcoin thing is what im concerned with the most. 


i mean i log into my online banking with this laptop.  I mean surely i could login to it after getting computer looked at right?  but bitcoin feels much different.


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September 03, 2016, 06:48:24 AM
 #4

hi thanks for the response.  well i could send the bitcoin to blockchain.   i have logged into my blockchain account before but i do not believe i ever sent any bitcoin to blockchain even once.  so would that be fine or not
If you do choose to keep your bitcoin in a blockchain.info wallet, then you should do this the following way:

  • Use a computer/phone/device that you are not going to bring to get serviced to create a new blockchain.info wallet
  • Backup your newly created blockchain.info wallet -- ideally you will have at least 3 copies of your wallet, across two mediums of storage, and one copy of which is offsite.
  • Move all your bitcoin off of the computer that you are getting serviced onto your blockchain.info wallet

If blockchain.info works the way they claim it does -- I have no reason to suspect otherwise, however I have never personally audited their code, nor do I have the technical ability to do so -- then when you access your blockchain.info wallet, your private keys will (temporarily) be stored locally, and at least in theory, your private keys could remain in RAM for some amount of time. 

here is my other issue.  i play online poker and bet sports and also some sites i use bitcoin to deposit/withdraw to these sites.  so i should make sure i erase my username from the login etc  or would that not be enough
You probably want to, at the minimum, erase any autofill settings that pre-fill your username from these sites. If you have your password saved on your computer in any way, then you will probably want to change your password via another device prior to getting your computer serviced. If you are using 2fa on these sites then your security will be increased. Continuing to use this computer after it gets serviced will subject you to the same kind of risks that that the technician could install some kind of malware onto your computer. As I mentioned previously, I think the risk of this is fairly low.

has there been cases where someone went to computer repair place to fix computer and had bitcoin in their wallet then bitcoin no longer there...
I am not sure, however allowing someone to service your computer, especially when you are not present, will make it trivial for them to copy everything on your hard drive. I think it is even possible that it is a common practice for technicians to at least create a temporary copy of data on your hard drive while repairing your computer -- several years ago, I was having hardware issues on my macbook while it was still under AppleCare protection, and when I took it to the apple store to get it repaired, they needed me to agree that I may not get the exact same computer back, but instead a similar computer with the data transferred onto the new computer. If the technician does make a copy of your hard drive, then they might not even look at the contents for a very long time, so it would probably be very difficult to detect that it was the technician that stole your bitcoin -- your bitcoin would simply be gone.


such that i have to get computer looked at since it has tons of problems.  i mean... i have lot of poker programs installed and its on my desktop.  so you want me to delete all those  thing is i dont want to reinstall it again... i mean maybe just delete the shortcuts on the desktop... but you could find it on start etc though
I don't think the issue is so much that you have particular programs installed on your computer, the issue is more that your passwords, and private keys are stored on your computer when it is given to the repaid shop.

Removing shortcuts from your desktop will do pretty much zero to prevent the repair shop from finding your data stored elsewhere.

i like to know have there been cases where someone could install malware into someones laptop and then later on take their bitcoin... do you know of any specific cases
I do not know of any specific cases, no. I think the risk of malware via a repair shop is fairly low unless it is clear that you are storing very large amounts of money on your computer. It is certainly possible though.

i mean i log into my online banking with this laptop.  I mean surely i could login to it after getting computer looked at right?  but bitcoin feels much different.
The risks of logging into your online banking are much lower from your perspective. Primarily because your bank is responsible for keeping your account safe, and preventing any transactions that you did not authorize from going through. Someone hacking your bank account might cause you some headaches, but probably will not cause you very much financial damage.

With Bitcoin on the other hand, you are solely responsible for the security of your private keys, and if your private keys get stolen/compromised then you will be the one who bears the losses.

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