Since the dawn of Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies in general, paper wallets have been a frequent wallet recommendation in most bitcoin and cryptocurrency communities due to it being offline, and being virtually costless (assuming you already have a printer to start with).
With that said, for most people that aren’t experts(or at least competent) in the field of security, paper wallets aren’t as secure as they think. Yes — paper wallets truly are offline due to the fact that the private keys are only printed on paper, but the paper wallet creation process mostly isn’t when not done correctly.
Malware, viruses, and unsecure devices
The moment you generated your paper wallet through Electrum or sites such as bitaddress.org, hacker/s could have already gained access to a copy of the private keys you’ve just generated through computer malware.
While you can do malware scans on your computer before you generate a wallet, there are no guarantees that malware/virus scanners would be able to detect all the malware that could potentially be in your system.
A somewhat effective solution to this though is to install a privacy and security-focused open-source operating system such as Tails on a USB flash drive and generate the paper wallet using a live boot. Unfortunately, depending on the person, this method is not that beginner-friendly and is still not 100% secure due to potential BIOS-level rootkit attacks.
Printers these days store file data on the printer’s memory and have features such as Bluetooth and WiFi connectivity, which could put your wallet’s private keys at risk unless you manually take out these hardware parts temporarily.
The only way to guarantee security in this part is to use an old “dumb” printer without these modern features.
The easy solution
Simply buying an affordable hardware wallet straight from reputable manufacturers such as Ledger, Trezor, and Coldcard is simply the best and most secure security solution for the masses. That way, you can securely and conveniently generate a wallet without any required deep security knowledge, and your wallet will continue to be secure as long as you only write down your wallet’s recovery backup on a piece of paper, and not have a digital copy of it.
Creating a secure wallet for long-term storage and/or usage is only the first step in learning how to make sure you don’t lose your hard-earned money.
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