Why You Can’t Just Brute-Force a Bitcoin Private Key

Overview Unfortunately, sometimes Bitcoin private keys are lost. Users destroy wallets, throw away hard drives, or simply never backup keys in the first place. A seemingly obvious solution to the problem of a lost key might be to try and “guess” all the possible keys until you find the one that unlocks your addresses. One

How to Read the Bitcoin Whitepaper

Overview On October 31st, 2008, Satoshi Nakamoto graced the world with his vision for a peer-to-peer electronic cash system called Bitcoin. The cryptocurrencies we use today started with this abstract and the ideas contained within. I highly recommend anyone interested in Bitcoin or other open blockchain projects read the original whitepaper, but it can be

HD Wallets – BIPs and Terminology

Overview The advent of HD wallets has made key management a far easier task for cryptocurrency users. These “Hierarchical Deterministic” wallets can generate an infinite amount of private keys and addresses from a single seed, eliminating the need for the periodic backups required by the old-style, nondeterministic wallets. Despite the ease of backup, there are

Comparing Major Mining Algorithms

Overview As it stands, all of the top cryptocurrencies (Bitcoin Cash, Ethereum, Litecoin, and Bitcoin) use proof-of-work mining to secure their networks. With proof-of-work, special nodes on the network called miners use their computing power to try and solve a mathematical problem. This problem is designed so that a miner has to do a bunch

Bitcoin is Not (Just) for Rich People

Overview At a recent event at Duquesne University, a student asked me to explain what Bitcoin is. And as an addendum to her question, she stated that her impression is that Bitcoin is only for rich people… As an educator in the space and a strong believer in the power of cryptocurrencies to change the

Common Address Encoding Formats

Overview When sending money to someone else using Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, Ethereum, or another cryptocurrency, you send funds to the other user’s address. This unique identifier for the other user’s wallet may look like a “random” string of letters and numbers, like this: 13GuDW2Km8TR6iCYP8E5QGhNky2ne7T17r. (Note: this is just a random address; don’t use it!). But