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Start with an invalid public key
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Become a Developer. Videos Documents Blogs Apps. Search For Valid Bitcoin Addresses. The key also needs to be kept safe, since losing the key would make spending the funds impossible. Generating a private key is easy - just pick any random number between 1 and If the number is truly random, you can rest assured that nobody on Earth will ever guess the same number ever again. The range of valid keys is 78 digits long, which is almost unimaginably huge.
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It's in the same ballpark as the number of atoms in the universe, which is around 80 digits long. If someone else tries to guess your private key, they probably won't even land in the same star, let alone pick the same atom. A Bitcoin addresses is just a scrambled version of the corresponding private key. This scrambling is a one-way street, so there there is no way to get the private key back from the public address.
On the other hand, since the two numbers are related, it's still possible for the key-holder to prove that they own the address without revealing the private key itself. The mathematics behind this are quite sophisticated, but they involve using the private key to generate a "signature" on each Bitcoin transaction, which can then be checked using the public address. This is why only people who know the private key can spend the funds associated with an address.
Although their size and randomness make private keys pretty-much un-guessable, guessing is only half the problem.
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A hacker doesn't need to guess if they can just steal a private key off someone's PC. Even worse, a hacker might convince someone to use a fake "random number" generator that only produces keys the hacker knows about. This is where dice come in. Dice are a great way to generate secure random numbers, since there is no software involved.
Technical background of version 1 Bitcoin addresses - Bitcoin Wiki
The most straightforward way to generate a highly-secure Bitcoin private key is to use a pair of sided hexadecimal dice :. This pair of dice is specially designed to produce a single byte of computer information each time it is rolled. Since a Bitcoin private key is just a byte random number, rolling these dice 32 times will produce a private key directly in hexadecimal format, with no further processing.
There are no computers involved, so security is perfect at least for the key-generation. It is also possible to use 6-sided dice, although it takes a little more processing to convert the results into a proper byte number. There are 6-sided dice instructions at the bottom of this article.
If generating a secure private key is the easy part, finding the corresponding public address is the hard part. There is no practical way to do this by hand, so a computer needs to be involved. Since the goal is to prevent hackers from stealing the private key, it is best not to do this on a normal, internet-connected computer.
Instead, the computer should be sealed off from from the outside world, so there is no way for the private key to leak out. To get a leak-proof environment for public address calculation, reboot your computer into an Ubuntu There are plenty of instructions explaining how to do this. The important thing about the live CD environment is that it does not write anything to the hard disk, so all traces of the private key will vanish once the computer is rebooted.
Once inside the virtual machine, download a copy of the bitcoin-bash-tools script and place it in the "Home" folder. If you would rather not download things from within the live CD environment, you can always download the script to a USB memory stick before rebooting, and then copy it to the "Home" folder once inside the live CD environment.
At this point, there should be no way for information to leak out of the live CD environment. The live CD doesn't store anything on the hard disk, and there is no network connection. Everything that happens from now on will be lost when the computer is rebooted. This will load the address-calculation script. Now, use the script to find the Bitcoin address for your private key:. Replace the part that says " your dice digits " with 64 digits found by rolling your pair of hexadecimal dice 32 times.
Be sure there is no space between the "0x" and your digits. When all is said and done, your terminal window should look like this:. The script produces two public addresses from the same private key. The "compressed" address format produces smaller transaction sizes which means lower transaction fees , but it's newer and not as well-supported as the original "uncompressed" format. Choose which format you like, and write down the "WIF" and "bitcoin address" on a piece of paper.