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Author Topic: Easy cold storage with Tails Linux, and Electrum for newbies  (Read 496 times)
Wind_FURY
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December 17, 2018, 11:08:07 AM
Merited by suchmoon (4), LoyceV (1), LeGaulois (1)
 #1

1. Download Tails, and make a bootable USB with it.

2. Boot Tails on an offline computer.

3. Open Electrum, and create a wallet.

4. Back up your seeds, and addresses.

5. Turn off the computer, and pull USB.

6. Burn the USB. If you are very paranoid, burn the computer too.

I believe this guide will become handy for newbies coming after the conclusion of the bear market. Cool


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December 17, 2018, 11:28:20 AM
Last edit: December 17, 2018, 02:05:47 PM by Carlton Banks
Merited by LoyceV (2)
 #2

1. Download Tails, and make a bootable USB with it.

2. Boot Tails on an offline computer.

That works, of course. But there's no particular reason to use Tails, since you're staying offline. Tails is only different from other live os'es when using it online, any live os would work for this purpose.



6. Burn the USB. If you are very paranoid, burn the computer too.

Or just use a USB based CD drive. USB flash drives are susceptible to their own class of malware, CDs are a better tech if security is the aim (CDs can be made read-only)


Also, if you're already feeling paranoid, burning USB drives (or computers) in your back yard (or anywhere) could make you feel worse. And also make you appear a little suspicious to anyone who notices you doing it.

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December 17, 2018, 11:52:11 AM
Merited by LoyceV (1)
 #3

This should be obvious, but Electrum which included on Tails isn't up-to-date. Bug regarding wallet/seed creation don't happen and new address/wallet standard rarely changed, but people should know about this fact.

6. Burn the USB. If you are very paranoid, burn the computer too.

This is completely unnecessary if you use linux that only runs at RAM or you use CD-R/DVD-R as boot media. You also could remove all storage drive, leaving only your USB, CD-R or DVD-R if you're that paranoid.

Also, it's not really good action from environmental side.

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December 17, 2018, 12:15:49 PM
 #4

4. Back up your seeds, and addresses.

I think this should be explained further, as this is the most important part in order to ensure that you can access your funds again.

If you have a lot of books (and you can take care of them very carefully) you can use your books as a way to back up your seed. Choose 12/24 books, depends on your seeds (or just choose 1, 2, whatever you wish). In each book, mark a word (or a font) that represent your seed with invisible ink. To make it easier to remember, use the 1st page of the first book, 2nd page of the second book and so on. Take care of your books.



And of course, this is not really the best way to backup your seeds. There are other alternatives.

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December 17, 2018, 02:12:50 PM
Merited by LoyceV (1)
 #5

If you have a lot of books (and you can take care of them very carefully) you can use your books as a way to back up your seed. Choose 12/24 books, depends on your seeds (or just choose 1, 2, whatever you wish). In each book, mark a word (or a font) that represent your seed with invisible ink. To make it easier to remember, use the 1st page of the first book, 2nd page of the second book and so on. Take care of your books.

This would work nicely, except under one important circumstance: if everybody uses this method, then everyone knows how to find everyone else's seed, look through their books with an ultraviolet torch


When you come up with a way of storing your wallet seed in a hidden way, take this advice: don't tell anyone (in particular, don't tell the internet Smiley)

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December 17, 2018, 02:28:04 PM
Merited by suchmoon (4), LoyceV (1)
 #6

6. Burn the USB. If you are very paranoid, burn the computer too.

if someone is really paranoid enough to do something like this then they must also be paranoid enough not to trust Electrum itself specifically its random number generator engine. for these people using computers is not a good suggestion.
instead they can use physical ways of creating their private keys using dice, coin flip,... there are also enough articles about how to use these methods too.

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December 17, 2018, 08:41:15 PM
 #7

4. Back up your seeds, and addresses.
I'll skip ideas for backing up the seeds, that has been discussed in many topics.

How do you store the addresses, and how can you be absolutely sure nobody has altered them for their own address? A digital copy is not enough, if you encrypt it you need to use an offline system again, and if you write it down in your own handwriting it's very annoying to use.

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December 18, 2018, 05:40:26 AM
 #8

1. Download Tails, and make a bootable USB with it.

2. Boot Tails on an offline computer.

That works, of course. But there's no particular reason to use Tails, since you're staying offline. Tails is only different from other live os'es when using it online, any live os would work for this purpose.


But Tails Linux already has Electrum as part of its set of tools that is already pre-installed.

Quote


6. Burn the USB. If you are very paranoid, burn the computer too.

Or just use a USB based CD drive. USB flash drives are susceptible to their own class of malware, CDs are a better tech if security is the aim (CDs can be made read-only)


Good point. CDs are more recommendable. But USB drives are also "ok enough" because they will never be used online.

Quote

Also, if you're already feeling paranoid, burning USB drives (or computers) in your back yard (or anywhere) could make you feel worse. And also make you appear a little suspicious to anyone who notices you doing it.


Hahaha. Ok, maybe destroying the USB drive, and the computer's RAM through the microwave oven might be enough.


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December 18, 2018, 02:02:20 PM
 #9

1. Download Tails, and make a bootable USB with it.

2. Boot Tails on an offline computer.

That works, of course. But there's no particular reason to use Tails, since you're staying offline. Tails is only different from other live os'es when using it online, any live os would work for this purpose.



6. Burn the USB. If you are very paranoid, burn the computer too.

Or just use a USB based CD drive. USB flash drives are susceptible to their own class of malware, CDs are a better tech if security is the aim (CDs can be made read-only)


Also, if you're already feeling paranoid, burning USB drives (or computers) in your back yard (or anywhere) could make you feel worse. And also make you appear a little suspicious to anyone who notices you doing it.

Sorry, but just to add that a USB can be set up with "read only".

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December 18, 2018, 03:53:50 PM
Merited by ETFbitcoin (1), xtraelv (1)
 #10

For me, what works better is an air-gapped/never touched the internet VM in virtualbox , in which I've installed a downloaded and signature-verified copy of electrum as my cold wallet.

I put the related XPUB in my regular-use/online computer as a watching-only Electrum wallet.

A transaction is pretty easy....create the unsigned tx, put it on a trusted USB and insert to the cold VM...sign it, return it to the watching wallet, and broadcast.

I'm as paranoid as about anyone, so my Electrum wallet connects to my own Electrum Personal Server installed on my own full bitcoind node.

Easy, and secure.


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December 19, 2018, 09:38:42 AM
Merited by vapourminer (1), LoyceV (1)
 #11


That works, of course. But there's no particular reason to use Tails, since you're staying offline. Tails is only different from other live os'es when using it online, any live os would work for this purpose.


Isn't Tails' main feature that it is amnesic and doesn't leave any data between sessions (aside from opt-in persistent storage)? Or any other live OS would act in the same way?


This should be obvious, but Electrum which included on Tails isn't up-to-date. Bug regarding wallet/seed creation don't happen and new address/wallet standard rarely changed, but people should know about this fact.


I've installed Tails on a USB one year ago and it had some really ancient version of Electrum, something like 2.7.9. It obviously couldn't open my SegWit wallets so I had to install a newer version brought from another USB drive.

if someone is really paranoid enough to do something like this then they must also be paranoid enough not to trust Electrum itself specifically its random number generator engine. for these people using computers is not a good suggestion.
instead they can use physical ways of creating their private keys using dice, coin flip,... there are also enough articles about how to use these methods too.

Paranoia can be dangerous if it is combined with lack of fundamental knowledge, such people can end up creating their own crypto, generating weak random numbers or just simply encrypting too much and then losing their keys.

For me, what works better is an air-gapped/never touched the internet VM in virtualbox , in which I've installed a downloaded and signature-verified copy of electrum as my cold wallet.


VM's can't be considered air-gapped, if the first layer is pwned, all next layers are pwned too.

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December 19, 2018, 11:32:11 AM
Merited by LoyceV (1)
 #12

Isn't Tails' main feature that it is amnesic and doesn't leave any data between sessions (aside from opt-in persistent storage)? Or any other live OS would act in the same way?

If it's not explicitly designed to do so, another LiveOS might allow some session data to survive, but this is only possible if using a writable medium like USB flash (and hence why I mentioned using CDs as a failsafe; you don't even have to worry about Tails having a data persistence bug if you run it from a CD, it's not possible for any data to be written to the CD accidentally or by design)


1. Download Tails, and make a bootable USB with it.

2. Boot Tails on an offline computer.

That works, of course. But there's no particular reason to use Tails, since you're staying offline. Tails is only different from other live os'es when using it online, any live os would work for this purpose.


But Tails Linux already has Electrum as part of its set of tools that is already pre-installed.

Ah, I didn't know that.

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December 19, 2018, 07:20:22 PM
Merited by vapourminer (1)
 #13


4. Back up your seeds, and addresses.



Simply suggestion to back up the seeds.

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December 25, 2018, 10:43:53 AM
 #14

Or write down your seeds on a piece of paper or cardboard, and try laminating it yourself. There are lots of "do it yourself" guides on the internet.


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btc_enigma
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December 27, 2018, 05:41:09 PM
 #15

Really interesting post.

Just thinking . Few things:

- Tails has lots of software that could potentially have a backdoor. Similar to what happened with nodejs package for bitpay exploit
- Also electrum itself has lots of python packages dependecies which is uncessary overhead just for seed creation

Is it possible to generate a secure seed using just simple linux commands without electrum. Can we have a barebones Unix with just basic booting packages and tools and then do this just by commandline ?

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December 27, 2018, 06:49:38 PM
 #16

Cheaper than burning a laptop and more paranoid way:
1. Buy $2 Arduino or $10 Raspberry Pi without any network connectivity
2. Connect monitor and keyboard and boot basic Linux from sd card
3. Open command line and type source code of your cryptocurrency public/secret key pair generation function from printed github page
4. Write down the result
5. Destroy your $10 microchip investment
6. Huh
7. PROFIT!
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December 27, 2018, 07:00:05 PM
 #17

Really interesting post.

Just thinking . Few things:

- Tails has lots of software that could potentially have a backdoor. Similar to what happened with nodejs package for bitpay exploit
- Also electrum itself has lots of python packages dependecies which is uncessary overhead just for seed creation

Is it possible to generate a secure seed using just simple linux commands without electrum. Can we have a barebones Unix with just basic booting packages and tools and then do this just by commandline ?
Hi,

The seed is derived from a private key from a known algorithm available here so you can make an implementation in another way.
The private key from which the key is derived is just a random number. On Linux you could generate a private key this way :
Code:
darosior@debian:~$ hexdump -n 32 -e '8/4 "%08X" 1 "\n"' /dev/random
F2D2655A037B2E53802DC02EEEE8C4E58F51D7532E6FF955A695D7457C6D3CC2
But there may be better sources of entropy.

ETFbitcoin
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December 27, 2018, 08:17:05 PM
 #18

- Tails has lots of software that could potentially have a backdoor. Similar to what happened with nodejs package for bitpay exploit

Since you probably won't connect to internet or/and burn the boot media (CD, USB drive, etc.), IMO you don't need to worry about such backdoor.

- Also electrum itself has lots of python packages dependecies which is uncessary overhead just for seed creation

It's true, but for newbie, Electrum is better choice

The seed is derived from a private key from a known algorithm available here so you can make an implementation in another way.
The private key from which the key is derived is just a random number. On Linux you could generate a private key this way :
Code:
darosior@debian:~$ hexdump -n 32 -e '8/4 "%08X" 1 "\n"' /dev/random
F2D2655A037B2E53802DC02EEEE8C4E58F51D7532E6FF955A695D7457C6D3CC2
But there may be better sources of entropy.

/dev/urandom might be better choice as /dev/random don't return anything/block when it's entropy pool isn't full.

If you actually use your device after boot, it would generate more random data and should serve as good source of entropy, even though i've no idea how secure it is compared to CSPRNG used by other Bitcoin wallet.

cellard
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December 28, 2018, 03:23:44 AM
 #19

I was considering usnig Electrum to create a cold storage setup, however I have been convinced that using anything but a full client is insanity. Look at the recent events as posted by theymos on the sticky:

https://bitcointalk.org/index.php?topic=5090097.0

Just stick to full blockchains. Get a full client that you can trust like Core, run it in an online computer with no coins, then run another Core client in the airgapped computer. Move raw transactions into the online computer and broadcast them.

I don't see why bother with any other software. "As a newbie" is not really an excuse. Start with the real thing. Developing bad habits its not good in Bitcoin.

hatshepsut93
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December 28, 2018, 04:59:15 AM
Merited by vapourminer (1), bones261 (1)
 #20

I was considering usnig Electrum to create a cold storage setup, however I have been convinced that using anything but a full client is insanity. Look at the recent events as posted by theymos on the sticky:

https://bitcointalk.org/index.php?topic=5090097.0

Just stick to full blockchains. Get a full client that you can trust like Core, run it in an online computer with no coins, then run another Core client in the airgapped computer. Move raw transactions into the online computer and broadcast them.

I don't see why bother with any other software. "As a newbie" is not really an excuse. Start with the real thing. Developing bad habits its not good in Bitcoin.

There's no arguing that Core is better than any other wallet, but it's wrong to dismiss other wallets. Electrum has been around for years, it was reviewed by many people, it's one of the most popular wallets, and for a reason.
Almost every software has some bugs, this is a reality. When a serious bug was discovered in Core client earlier this year, people didn't say that it's insane to use Bitcoin, we just accepted that software is not perfect.
The recent Electrum vulnerability didn't render it broken in a sense that attackers could easily steal private keys, it abused error massages from servers to execute a social engineering attack. If you are using it as cold storage, you would be unlikely to get affected because you'd need to get through many steps - first you'd need to broadcast a transaction on your watch-only Electrum wallet that is connected to a malicious server, than you'd need to download a malicious client and install it on your air-gapped machine, and only then your coins would get stolen if you sent some coins again.

Bitcoin ecosystem remains a harsh place for unexperienced people, and for anyone involved it's important to develop a deeper understanding of cybersecurity.

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