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Author Topic: Question about long term security of bitcoins in armory  (Read 1213 times)
Romance
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March 18, 2015, 03:36:01 PM
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I am a new user to armory and I like it so far, have not had many problems,  had the database error once and was able to fix it but I have a lingering question as I do not fully understand all of the nuances behind how wallets and private keys work with armory and with the bitcoin core client.

Lets say I store my bitcoins in armory, on an offline computer and do not access them for 10 years.

If the bitcoin core changes drastically and armory development ceases to upkeep due to whatever reason will I be able to import my armory wallet to other alternative clients? And if so will a watch only wallet be able to be imported? or a wallet in which I have lost the passphrase and only have the armory paper wallet recovery?
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jl2012
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March 18, 2015, 05:12:40 PM
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I am a new user to armory and I like it so far, have not had many problems,  had the database error once and was able to fix it but I have a lingering question as I do not fully understand all of the nuances behind how wallets and private keys work with armory and with the bitcoin core client.

Lets say I store my bitcoins in armory, on an offline computer and do not access them for 10 years.

If the bitcoin core changes drastically and armory development ceases to upkeep due to whatever reason will I be able to import my armory wallet to other alternative clients? And if so will a watch only wallet be able to be imported? or a wallet in which I have lost the passphrase and only have the armory paper wallet recovery?


The paper wallet is what you need, and the ONLY thing that you need.

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March 18, 2015, 05:16:35 PM
 #3

I am a new user to armory and I like it so far, have not had many problems,  had the database error once and was able to fix it but I have a lingering question as I do not fully understand all of the nuances behind how wallets and private keys work with armory and with the bitcoin core client.

Lets say I store my bitcoins in armory, on an offline computer and do not access them for 10 years.

If the bitcoin core changes drastically and armory development ceases to upkeep due to whatever reason will I be able to import my armory wallet to other alternative clients? And if so will a watch only wallet be able to be imported? or a wallet in which I have lost the passphrase and only have the armory paper wallet recovery?


I'm not an armory user so I can't really address the very specific parts of your question however I can tell you the general and more important answer which is this:

Make sure you know how to export your private key and address from armory into some sort of plain text.  As long as you can do this, you will not have a problem long term.

I'm just saying that the core of the bitcoin philosophy is to be your own bank and to do this you need to be able to be able to own your own private keys and addresses.  If I were you, I'd export your private keys and addresses into plain text and print  them out on a piece of paper and keep it somewhere safe.  As long as you have this information for perpetuity, all current software clients can die and you'll still be okay because you can import your keys into whatever future software wallets are around.

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March 18, 2015, 06:05:37 PM
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I think a better answer is a combination of the two answers above.

The paper wallet is what you need, and the ONLY thing that you need.

As long as you have a working version of Armory on some PC, this is true. It doesn't even need to be online, or be compatible with any version of Bitcoin Core. As tspacepilot goes on to say:

Make sure you know how to export your private key and address from armory into some sort of plain text.  As long as you can do this, you will not have a problem long term.

And as long as you have a working version of Armory, you can do this. You need to do a Wallet Restore using your paper backup, and then go to the Backup Wallet option and choose "Export Key Lists" as your backup type. This will produce a text file, and although you may need to change the formatting of the text file a little bit to get it to import into another wallet client, it shouldn't be too difficult.

It should be noted that you can't export the entire wallet and expect some other wallet client to be able to generate addresses/keys the same way that Armory currently does, instead you have to ask Armory to generate a list of addresses and keys as described above, and import the entire list into the new wallet client.
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March 18, 2015, 07:29:50 PM
 #5

I think a better answer is a combination of the two answers above.

The paper wallet is what you need, and the ONLY thing that you need.

As long as you have a working version of Armory on some PC, this is true. It doesn't even need to be online, or be compatible with any version of Bitcoin Core. As tspacepilot goes on to say:

Make sure you know how to export your private key and address from armory into some sort of plain text.  As long as you can do this, you will not have a problem long term.

And as long as you have a working version of Armory, you can do this. You need to do a Wallet Restore using your paper backup, and then go to the Backup Wallet option and choose "Export Key Lists" as your backup type. This will produce a text file, and although you may need to change the formatting of the text file a little bit to get it to import into another wallet client, it shouldn't be too difficult.

It should be noted that you can't export the entire wallet and expect some other wallet client to be able to generate addresses/keys the same way that Armory currently does, instead you have to ask Armory to generate a list of addresses and keys as described above, and import the entire list into the new wallet client.

I agree wholeheartedly, you may have to fiddle with the plain text file to import it properly into some future client but as long as you have the information, this will be doable.  Don't be afraid to own your keys and addresses.  Don't trust software to take care of this for you.

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March 18, 2015, 08:07:02 PM
 #6

Armory (and other deterministic wallets) make key recovery more future proof than Bitcoin Core.  Bitcoin Core still uses a random bunch of keys which makes backups problematic.  To recover your keys in the future you don't even need a working copy of Armory.  You only need a copy of the algorithm which converts the paper backup (root private key) into the sequence of keys used by the wallet.  Those keys could be imported into whatever client exists in the future.   Brainwallet.org can convert an Armory backup into a list of private keys.

If you are particularly worried, print this function (lines 711-790) on the back of your paper backup:
https://github.com/etotheipi/BitcoinArmory/blob/master/cppForSwig/EncryptionUtils.cpp#L711

It is the code which Armory uses to generate your next private key starting from the root private key.  With your paper backup and this code you can generate every key you will ever use. So in 50 years even if Armory is gone, if Bitcoin still exists you could recover your keys.
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March 18, 2015, 08:12:11 PM
 #7

Keys in armory are far more futureproof than with bitcoin core because bitcoin core uses random keys which makes backups problematic.  In theory you wouldn't even need a working copy of Armory in the future just access to the algorithm used to convert the seed (paper backup) into the list of keys.   Those keys could then be imported into whatever client exists in the future.   Brainwallet can convert an Armory backup into a list of private keys.

If you are particularly worried, print this function (lines 711-790) on the back of your paper backup:
https://github.com/etotheipi/BitcoinArmory/blob/master/cppForSwig/EncryptionUtils.cpp#L711

It is the code which Armory uses to generate your next private key.  With your paper backup and this code you can generate every key you will ever use. So even if Armory is gone, if Bitcoin still exists in 50 years you could recover your keys.

I was about to retort "what about the fact that that algorithm is somewhere in the guts of armory and in a future where armory isn't working how does this guy find his keys" when you wrote that about printing out the algorithm too.  Smiley

I'm not against innovation but I also think it's important for bitcoin users to be empowered.  Printing out your private keys in a way that you can access them without having to implement an algorithm (especially if you're not a software writer) is empowering, IMO.

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March 18, 2015, 08:40:57 PM
 #8

I really appreciate all the help guys, this is exactly what I was looking for.
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March 25, 2015, 10:12:37 PM
 #9

If someone has your BTC address, and a copy of the private key, can they access your wallet from another computer?

If someone has one of your private keys, they can steal some of the funds in your wallet. If they have one of your private keys, and your wallet file (even if it has a good password), they can steal all of the funds in your wallet.

If they have just your address and password to the wallet, can they use the password to find out your private key from another computer?

No, not without the wallet file.
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March 25, 2015, 10:14:33 PM
 #10

If someone has your BTC address, and a copy of the private key, can they access your wallet from another computer?

If they have just your address and password to the wallet, can they use the password to find out your private key from another computer?


First, forget about a thief using an address of yours to gain some advantage; in either of your examples or any other, having a bitcoin address doesn't benefit thieves.


Having the wallet password or a private key does benefit thieves. The private key works anywhere at any time, whether you're a thief or the owner, with no knowledge of anything about owner for it to work. So that's the most dangerous bit of information you could lose.

The password only works if you have a copy of (or access to) the relevant wallet file. So if someone has your password, knows it's yours, and know you, and can find you, your computer or your wallet file, then your funds are in danger.

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