A cryptocurrency wallet stores the public and private keys which can be used to receive or spend a cryptocurrency. A wallet can contain multiple public and private key pairs. As of January 2018, there are over thirteen hundred cryptocurrencies; the first and best known is bitcoin. The cryptocurrency itself is not in the wallet. In case of bitcoin and cryptocurrencies derived from it, the cryptocurrency is decentrally stored and maintained in a publicly available ledger. Every piece of cryptocurrency has a private key. With the private key, it is possible to digitally sign a transaction and write it in the public ledger, effectively spending the associated cryptocurrency.
When choosing a wallet, the owner must keep in mind who is supposed to have access to (a copy of) the private keys and thus potentially has access to the cryptocurrency. Just like with a bank, the user needs to trust the provider to keep the cryptocurrency safe. Downloading a cryptocurrency wallet from a wallet provider to a computer or phone does not automatically mean that the owner is the only one who has a copy of the private keys. A wallet can also have known or unknown vulnerabilities. In extreme cases even a computer which is not connected to any network can be hacked. For receiving cryptocurrency, access to the receiving wallet is not needed. The sending party only needs to know the destination address. Anyone can send cryptocurrency to an address. Only the one who has the private key of the corresponding address can use it.
A backup of a wallet can come in different forms like:
- A (encrypted) file like wallet.dat or wallet.bin which contains all the private keys.
- A mnemonic sentence from which the root key can be generated, from which all the private keys can be recreated. Preferably these words could be remembered or written down and stored on other physical locations.
- A private key like: KxSRZnttMtVhe17SX5FhPqWpKAEgMT9T3R6Eferj3sx5frM6obqA.
When the private keys and the backup are lost then that cryptocurrency is lost forever. When using a webwallet, the private keys are managed by the provider. When owning cryptocurrency, those trusted with managing the private keys should be carefully selected. An (encrypted) copy of the wallet should be kept in a trusted place. Preferably off-line. Some people 'write' their mnemonic sentence or private key on metal, because it is robust.
Different types of wallets
Atheios offers lots of wallet platforms to choose from. Information about these different wallet types are listed below:
They come in different forms:
- An application installed locally on a computer, the Atheios dekstop wallet is Available on Mac, Windows and Linux.
- A webbased wallet, here the private keys are managed by a trusted third party. The web wallet can be found an created/managed on MyEtherWallet.
They are considered secure, because the private keys never leave the physical wallet. They are born (created), live (transaction signing) and die (deleted) inside the hardware wallet.If a hardware wallet uses a mnemonic sentence for backup, then the users should not electronically store the mnemonic sentence, but write it down and store in a separate physical location. Storing the backup electronically lowers the security level to a software wallet level. Hardware wallets have models that require the user to physically press or touch the wallet in order to sign a transaction, the destination address and the amount of coins. The private keys remain safe inside the hardware wallet. Without the private key a signed transaction cannot be altered successfully.
If you have a web wallet (created on https://wallet.atheios.com/) you are also able to print a custom atheios paperwallet! This is a 18*7cm printed piece of paper that contains your public address and private address. Both with QR codes printed on the paper. We use our own custom Atheios design so your wallet stays fresh and cool even on a piece of paper!
How to get a paper wallet
- 1. Head over to https://wallet.atheios.com/
- 2. If you want a new wallet make sure you are in the 'New wallet' tab.²
- 3. Choose a strong password and click 'Create new wallet'.
- 4. Download your keystore file and make sure you safe it somewhere offline and safe!!! (on a usb for example).
- 5. After you stored your keystore file somewhere safe, click 'I understand. Continue.'
- 6. Write down your private key somewhere before we proceed to the next step. (to make sure nothing goes wrong with the printing proces).
- 7. Click 'Print paper wallet' a about:blank print page should open with your own wallet with all it's data on it, ready to get printed.
- 8. Select your printer and print!
- 9. Enjoy your paper wallet! NOTE: Keep it somewhere safe!
²: If you already own an Atheios wallet, head over to 'View wallet info'. Choose how you want to unlock your wallet and that's it! You should now see the option to print your wallet.
Interact with the Atheios blockchain and Smart Contracts via ATHMask using your Google Chrome browser. Get it here!.