How to Recover the Password for Your Bitcoin Wallet

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/!\ This is for educational purposes only, and should not be used for unauthorized access, tampering or accessed illegally without owner permission.

Losing access to your Bitcoin wallet can be an awful experience. We'll walk you through the best ways to recover it, and how to avoid losing access in the first plac

Bitcoin is booming as billionaires, institutional investors, and retail consumers crowd in to trade and invest in the original decentralized cryptocurrency.
But for some, it's a bittersweet experience. Approximately 20% of all Bitcoin, worth around $140 billion, appears to have been lost or otherwise inaccessible. If you're one of those unfortunates, or are worried you might become one, read on to learn your options.

What Is a Bitcoin Wallet?

Let's start with the basics. A Bitcoin wallet is essentially a collection of Bitcoin addresses and its corresponding keys. The wallet also contains other pieces of vital information, including a seed code, a recovery phase, and the current balance.
There are many different kinds of Bitcoin wallets, including paper wallets, hardware wallets, and software wallets. The specific security features of the wallet vary, but the core function remains the same.

What to Do If You've Lost Your Bitcoin Wallet Password

In order to unlock your funds you need at least one of two things:

  • Your 12-word wallet recovery phrase: This is a collection of words that store all the needed information to recover Bitcoin funds on-chain. If you do not have this phrase (or your wallet file) then it will be impossible for you to unlock your funds. When you created your wallet, you would have been instructed to write this phrase down. So you have likely stashed it away somewhere.
  • Your wallet file: If you have lost your 12-word recovery phrase but still have your .dat wallet file then there is still a slim hope. You can theoretically use this file, and your best guess at passwords you may have used, in order to access your funds without the 12-word recovery phrase.
If you have your 12-word wallet recovery phrase then you can stop reading here! Simply begin the wallet recovery process, and you can access your funds. If you have lost your recovery phrase and don't have access to your wallet's .dat file then you are out of luck. Without the wallet file or recovery phrase, your funds are lost and anybody claiming to be able to recover them is a scammer.
Assuming you have your wallet data file then there are two things you should do. The first is to try all passwords that you may have used. If this fails, you'll need to actually crack your own Bitcoin wallet.

You Need to Convert Your Wallet to a Hash

In order for any password crackers to read your wallet file it will need to be converted into a hash. Hash functions form the core of blockchain technology. It is possible to take the .dat wallet file, and use a hash extractor in order to convert the file into a format that can be read by a password cracker.

The most common tools used to crack Bitcoin wallet passwords are Hashcat and John The Ripper. In order to maximize your chances at success you should give the programme a list of common passwords that you use, and any other passwords you might have used. The password cracking software will then use this list to tailor the attack, and significantly increase any chances of success.

It should be noted that without accurate information about your passwords it might not be possible to crack your wallet. Around 65% of wallets can’t be accessed, despite using password cracking software.

If you are able to recover your wallet then you should immediately change your password and store it somewhere offline and safe. Without a seed recovery phrase your wallet could be lost for good otherwise.

Does This Mean Someone Else Could Hack My Bitcoin Wallet?

As this process shows, Bitcoin wallets are not unbreakable. As the holder of the wallet, you were able to make the process easier as you had access to data a hacker might not. But there are still vulnerabilities that can be exploited.

For example, white-hat hacker Ryan Castellucci was able to recover around 18,000 wallet passwords. In 2016, a study revealed that around 1,806 bitcoins had been drained from wallets using BrainWallet passwords, an amount that would be worth around $96 million today.

Other studies have revealed that people are not utilizing secure passwords. A study of 884 BrainWallet passwords revealed that 640 of them could be cracked. This was because people used passwords that were too common and easy to guess.

How Can I Stop My Wallet From Being Cracked

Most hacks involve using social engineering. In order to help protect your Bitcoin wallet, you should take the following steps:

  • Always use a unique password: don’t use variations on existing passwords as this will protect you in case of a data breach.
  • Don’t use pets names, childhood addresses, or any other data that can be gleaned online or via Facebook as part of your password.
  • Take advantage of passphrases or use a password generatora to create a stronger password.
  • If possible, avoid easily identifying your Bitcoin wallet with your real-world identity.
  • Never share your password, or leave it somewhere where you could accidentally post it online.
If you follow these steps and basic internet hygiene rules, you will be able to properly protect your Bitcoin wallet from outside access.

The Best Cure Is Prevention

Both when securing your Bitcoin wallet and attempting to recover a lost one, it is best to make sure you don’t have to. If at all possible, secure your recovery phrase somewhere safe, and make sure nobody else has access to it.

Failing that, you should ensure that you do the same with your password, and hopefully, you won’t have to go through the stress of recovering your Bitcoin wallet password.

Need help?

Contact us if you need some help about wallet recovery.

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