What is Mnemonic Phrase & Mnemonic Passphrase?
The number of cyber-crimes in the recent days have only been increasing, even as we speak. Every week there are more and more new cases popping up regarding the hacks, and other cyber-activities.
Hence, in a scenario where the Bitcoins which were inside your Bitcoin-wallet has been missing or in fact you realise that they have been shifted to another public address, whose private keys are not known by you; then in such a case you would expect a means by which you remember your private keys as well as prevent the transfer of the Bitcoins in the first place.
That ‘means’ by which you could secure your Bitcoins or any other cryptocurrency for that matter, is not by relying on your memory completely, but rather to use Mnemonic phrases and Mnemonic passphrase through the HD wallets. But yes you would require to use your memory as well but just for a certain extent.
In order to understand and use the above-mentioned terms for the security of your cryptocurrencies, then just read further.
What are HD Wallets?
We had earlier mentioned about the various Wallets in the crypto world. But in case you missed it here is a brief about the HD wallet.
HD basically stands for Hierarchical Deterministic. These HD Wallets can be defined as follows –
“The Hierarchical Deterministic (HD) key creation and transfer protocol (BIP32), which allows creating child keys from parent keys in a hierarchy. Wallets using the HD protocol are called HD wallets.”
In simpler language, HD Wallets can be understood as the mechanism to generate public or private keys which could not be guessed.
Every HD wallet tends to use 12-word master seed keys. Each time this seed is appended by a counter at the end and is used to derive seemingly unlimited new Bitcoin addresses hierarchically and sequentially.
These HD wallets do not require any complications with the backup procedure either because you just need to have a backup for the master seed.
What is a Mnemonic Phrase?
A Mnemonic Phrase can be defined as follows –
“Mnemonic Phrase is a list of words which store all the information needed to recover a Bitcoin wallet.”
Wallet software will typically generate a mnemonic backup phrase and instruct the user to write it down on paper. If the user’s computer breaks or their hard drive becomes corrupted, they can download the same wallet software again and use the paper backup to get their Bitcoins back.
A Mnemonic Phrase can also be known as Mnemonic Recovery Phrase or Mnemonic Seed or Seed Key or Seed Words.
But it all means just the same.
This term can be better understood once you divide the words and understand their meaning separately.
The word “Mnemonic” can be defined as “a system such as a pattern of letters, ideas, or associations which assists in remembering something.”
Mnemonic device is known to be a memory device any learning technique that aids information retention or retrieval (remembrance) in the human memory. It makes use of elaborative encoding, retrieval cues, and imagery as specific tools to encode any given information in a way that allows for efficient storage and retrieval.
Now, the word “Phrase” as we all know can be defined as “a small group of words.”
In the scenario that we had mentioned earlier, a simple alternative is to use these mnemonic phrases as they are extremely useful in storing all your information which is needed to recover those lost Bitcoins or any cryptocurrency. This way you wouldn’t have to worry about not remembering the important phrases as your Bitcoin security.
When you use your new wallet, it would ask you to write a 12, 18 or even 24 word Mnemonic Phrase on a piece of paper or basically anywhere which is considered as a secure place. This is done so that even if you lose your data, this as a backup source could help you out in retrieving the data or your fund. Few more benefits are mentioned below –
- It is easily understandable as well as readable by any human since it is written by you.
- It is not only easy to store the data but it is equally easy to manage the data.
- Since it isn’t officially saved anywhere online, so you can be secure from all those cybercriminals.
- It is easy to have hidden words, etc.
A small example – “witch collapse practice feed shame open despair creek road again ice least.”
What is a Mnemonic Passphrase?
Just because the Mnemonic Phrase gives a certain amount of security, it doesn’t mean that you are completely safe and secure.
Imagine a scenario wherein you have all the mnemonic phrases on that particular sheet of paper. And this mnemonic phrase is very valuable since it could be for a Bitcoin investment of millions. So what do we do in such a scenario?
Many wallets (like Ledger Nano S, Trezor, etc.) have been specifically made for this level of protection which is known as Two Factor Authentication or 2FA. As the name suggests, it is a second layer of security already existing, such as a password. A simple example of this is to log in to your Gmail account. First, you must log in with an email id and password, then you must either click on yes or the correct number option on your mobile phone.
Such an added layer is nothing but Mnemonic Passphrase. Basically, when you make a new wallet, the wallet gives you a mnemonic phrase to store it safely but some wallets also ask a password to encrypt the 12, 18, 24-word mnemonic phrase. This extra password or word is called Passphrase.
Some wallets call this passphrase a “seed extension”, “mnemonic extension”, “Salt” or “13th/25th word”. The mnemonic passphrase could be written down alongside the mnemonic phrase, or it could be memorized to create a two-factor mnemonic phrase where both – “something you have” i.e. mnemonic phrase, and “something you know” i.e. mnemonic passphrase – are required to unlock your Bitcoins or altcoins.
That is why this feature is powerful and has the potential to save your funds even in the worst case where your seed or mnemonic phrase is stolen and even seen by others.
But it should be noted that this passphrase must be remembered at all times as its absence would mean permanent loss of your cryptocurrencies.
We all know the need for securing the cryptocurrencies, so hopefully, these terms are understand and used in order to secure your Bitcoin wallets.