Setup Paper Wallet » Advanced Considerations

Use a Clean Machine

If there were malware on your machine and this seed escaped, it would significantly degrade the security of your multisig scheme. Assuming your attacker has 1 of your 2-of-3 needed keys, then you effectively now have a 1-of-2 scheme. Introducing the possibility of a single point of failure would mean we’re now suffering the negatives of multisig, without getting (most of) the benefits.

That is why it is essential that you turn off (and unplug) your internet access before performing these steps.

Option A (preferred): Tails Operating System

For our one-time offline key generation, it is preferable to use a live operating system that cannot store information on the file system. Tails is a live OS that is designed to wipe itself completely on shutdown. Conveniently, Electrum also comes pre-installed with Tails.

Follow the official Tails installation instructions to install Tails. Then perform the regular steps in the Setup Paper Wallet section using that machine. Your computer will automatically wipe itself completely (including RAM) on shutdown.

If you are truly paranoid, remove the hard drive from the machine (before booting up Tails) so there is no possibility that any private key material can be written to disk.

Option B (less secure): Wipe Your Machine

While Tails is preferred for self-destruction, you can get a similar effect by wiping the hard drive after generating your seed. If you have an Ubuntu installer DVD or USB drive (see Computer Configuration section), you can use that to perform the following steps:

  1. Disconnect your computer from the internet.
  2. Perform the regular steps in the Setup Paper Wallet section.
  3. Wipe your hard drive and re-install the operating system.
  4. Reconnect the computer to the internet.

You can further enhance this with two (optional) steps:

Note that these do not work perfectly on Flash memory (SSD drives), so the previous technique is preferred. You can read more about this here and here.

Verify Seed Generation

Confirm Seed Matches Zpub

This is important in case SeedPicker was actually replaced by malware trying to steal your bitcoin! We will confirm that the seed is valid, matches the expected root fingerprint and Zpub (for that path).

This step is unfortunately complicated, as SeedPicker (see basic section) is the only GUI software that currently exists to make it easier. Only advanced users who are comfortable with the command line should continue.

Use HumanRNG Electrum Script

TODO: add instructions.

Use a Pure Command Line Interface (CLI) Script

Expert users only:

Improve Airgap

Option A: Write Data to CD/DVD instead of USB Drive

DVDs are less able to execute malware on your computer.

Option B: Use a QR-Code Airgap

This is not currently documented. Pull requests with clarification are welcome. Specter-Desktop can receive this info via QR-code airgap.

Improve Seed Generation

Put Each Word Back in the Hat Between Draws

BIP39 allows for a word to be repeated in your seed phrase should it happen to be randomly drawn multiple times (very unlikely).

Randomly drawing 23 words with replacement, when performed correctly, has 253 bits of entropy.

>>> from math import log2
>>> log2(2048**23)

Randomly drawing 23 words without replacement, when performed correctly, has “only” 252.82 bits of entropy.

>>> from math import factorial
>>> def perm(n, k):
...     return factorial(n) / factorial(n - k)
>>> log2(perm(2048, 23))

With so many words to choose from (2048), the vast majority (over 88%) of possible seed phrases do not contain repeated words.

>>> perm(2048, 23) / 2048**23

The slight reduction to such a massive keyspace is insignificant. Nonetheless, we prefer to follow standards / best practices when possible.

Use SeedPicker Cutouts

Instead of having to cut out 2,048 words, you can get the same security by cutting out only 342 raffle tickets and using a 6-sided die instead. See the SeedPicker guide for creating your own seed phrase for more info. This will require 3 pages to be printed out, and it’s easier if you print out another 5 (can just reference them online if you prefer). You’ll also need a fair 6-sided die.

Use Dice

You can avoid all the paper cutting by using dice and a lookup table instead.

Add a Strong Passphrase to Your Seed

Caution: you now have to come up with a way to backup/protect this passphrase, and if you lose it your seed is worthless. Because this step is only for expert users, we’re going to ignore it for now. Be sure to use a hardware wallet where you can enter the passphrase directly on the device to avoid potential issues.

Not Perfect

No setup is perfect and this one is no exception. Read more about known issues with SeedPicker here.

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