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There are various ways to maintain bitcoin using cold storage techniques like a paper or a hardware wallet. Lots of these methods keep your cryptocurrency safe, but private keys and seed phrases need to be backed up in a secure fashion. One method of backup is called Cryptosteel, which can safely house private keys, BIP39 compatible seeds, and even secret cryptographic messages.
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Testing Out the Cryptosteel Cold Storage Solution
This week I was sent the latest limited edition Cryptosteel product invented by Wojtek Stopinski from Warsaw, Poland. The flagship product has been well-known by bitcoiners since the company initiated its Indiegogo campaign in the summer of 2015. The device has changed a touch since then so I decided to give Cryptosteel a review for our reader base. I decided to save a BIP39 passphrase created by a Mycelium wallet, but the product can store paper wallet keys and 12-24 word hardware wallet seeds as well. A BIP39 passphrase is a mnemonic code or a sentence of easy to remember words found in deterministic wallet infrastructure.
The stainless steel body of the product seems professionally made and carries some weight. The package comes with the Cryptosteel device, alpha and numeric steel pieces, and some retro-style packaging. After unpacking everything and locating my written seed phrase, I chose to empty all the letters and numbers into a small tupperware container. The only thing else you need to get started is a small screwdriver to apply and lock the secret phrase into the device.
Getting Started with a Small Screwdriver and Seed
With Cryptosteel, there are only four spaces for each word which might be confusing to some people at first. However, the backup solution only requires the assembly of the first four letters and most BIP39 restoration services will recognize the words. “Those four letters are unique and sufficient to recover the sentence and the entire Bitcoin wallet. We did a frequency analysis and determined the minimum set of letters that are needed to create the Cryptosteel”, explains the company.
Taking a small screwdriver, I slowly turned the locking mechanism to the left and followed by using the screwdriver to push a release button on the lower right-hand corner. This allows the little steel numbers and letters to slide into the product. However, I did need the screwdriver to help push the letters into place. As you can see from my photographs, I filled the gadget with the first four words of my passphrase. ‘Eight’, ‘duck’, ‘advise’, and ‘outside’ finished the row, and I closed the clasp to see how tightly the letters held. After locking the mechanism clasp, the words did not move around or seem loose inside.
The Cryptosteel product takes a bit of time to assemble as the letter and number pieces are quite small. It took me roughly 45 minutes to assemble a complete 24-word seed phrase onto my new device. After completing the process, I could opt to add a small padlock or nut and bolt to secure Cryptosteel from being opened. Another benefit of Cryptosteel is, after finishing the private key assembly, one could gift the device to someone and it could easily act as a steel bearer bond instrument.
Fire, Water, and Shock-Protected Cold Storage for Catastrophic Elements
The product got me thinking about my digital inheritance plan I’ve been working on recently, and it seems like a superior backup to paper. In fact, CDs, paper, USB flash drives, hardware wallets, and other products could easily be damaged by fire or break down over time. Cryptosteel can definitely survive these types of elements but would also have to be hidden in a secure location. The stainless steel product isn’t 100 percent foolproof as no means of cold storage is completely safe, but Cryptosteel does offer a different solution. Overall the product is an interesting way of storing Bitcoin private keys, PIN numbers, and lengthy passwords in a near-indestructible fashion.
What do you think about the Cryptosteel product? Let us know in the comments below.
Images via Jamie Redman, and Cryptosteel.
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