Let’s say you want to lose your Bitcoin (BTC) completely, irretrievably and forever. Hey, it’s not up to us to wonder why. Maybe it’s part of some elaborate performance artwork, like the man who… destroyed all his possessions or maybe you have always been big fans of electronic music outfit The KLF, which has become famous: burned 1 million pounds on a remote Scottish island. Or your reason could be more mundane and you just don’t want your soon-to-be divorced spouse to get their share of the investment you know you own.
Whatever your reason, we’re not here to judge. And while we usually help people protect their coins, it’s simple enough to reverse engineer the security to help you lose them in the quickest and easiest way.
Brag about your Bitcoin
If you have it and want to lose it, show it off. Do you want to get rid of that Rolex that weighs down your wrist? Pair it with a T-shirt, flash it in a crowded bar, and take a stroll through a bad part of town after dark – you’ll soon find yourself rid of your timepiece.
So it is with Bitcoin. You want the world to know that you are a Bitcoiner and, ideally, that you have stacked enough sats to make it worth stealing them. So tell them. Add laser eyes to your social media profiles, keep tweeting those diamond hands and don’t forget the offline world too. Be sure to brag about your mastery of Bitcoin to all your friends, family, and most importantly, new acquaintances. You never know who might be tempted to examine your defenses to get rid of your investment.
Related: I Spy With My Laser Eye: A Twitter Phenomenon To Make Bitcoin Mainstream?
Keep it on the exchange
In the early days of Bitcoin’s Wild West, losing your coin was child’s play as there was no shortage of infamous exchanges that would help you lose your investment. If you kept your coins in a hosted wallet, it was only a matter of time before the stock market went bust like Mt. Gox, got hacked, lost coins by participating in fractional reserve banking or the owners went into hiding (or died) with your keys.
The stock market has matured significantly in recent years, with enhanced security measures such as two-factor authentication and even published proof-of-reserves and proof-of-custody. Don’t be discouraged, as long as you entrust your keys to a third party, anything can – and probably will – happen.
Exchanges still break down with reassuring regularity. Even more encouraging is that governments are now actively targeting the wealth of Bitcoiners. And not just traditional authoritarians like China and Russia, the Canadian government recently instructed financial institutions – including cryptocurrency administrators – to freeze the accounts of anyone who donates even a small amount to the “trucker protests.”
Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland: “The names of individuals and entities as well as crypto wallets have been shared with financial institutions by the RCMP and accounts have been frozen and more accounts will be frozen.” pic.twitter.com/iA69DbRJl1
— True North (@TrueNorthCentre) February 17, 2022
Even if you have a strong password and 2FA to protect your Exchange account, you never know what other vulnerability can be exploited to access and wipe it. When you have your coins on the exchange, relax: they are in unsafe hands.
Related: Bitcoin Has Become Nothing But The New Che Guevara T-Shirt
write it down
It gets a little trickier once you’ve decided to keep your Bitcoin offline in a secure hardware wallet. Or do they? After all, when you hold the keys yourself, the power to lose your coins is completely in your hands. Why wait for an exchange to fail when you can start applying the worst security practice today?
The secret to making your wallet insecure lies in your seed phrase, the string of words you use to generate your private key. The easiest way to lose your coins is to memorize your opening sentence and then delete or destroy a record of it. A few months later, hardly anyone has any hope of remembering every word in the correct order.
But what if you’re cursed with an eidetic memory? Easy: write it down. Even better, do it twice in physical pen-and-paper form, ideally near your hardware wallet. And for good measure, record it in a cloud-based document where anyone with a will can access it via a brute-force attack. This is especially effective if you regularly remind people that you own assets in Bitcoin.
Disinherit the next generation
This one is for those who like to play the long game. You know the expression “you can’t take it with you?” Well, with Bitcoin you can. If you haven’t considered succession planning, your entire investment will likely go to the grave with you, along with the estimated 3.7 million Bitcoin (about 18% of the coins that will ever exist) that have been lost forever.
This, of course, requires you to flip the above principles: if you really want to cheat your kids out of their inheritance, you need to make it just as difficult for them to access your keys as an attacker. So, if that’s the way you want to go, don’t tell your heirs, don’t write down your seed phrase, and buy a hardware wallet. Even better, cut your 24 words seed phrase into many pieces and keep them in many hidden holes around the world without any recovery instructions. Your heirs will not thank you at all.
Whatever you do, just make sure your Bitcoin storage and security providers don’t have a specific and robust protocol for inheritance planning. You can rest easy in the knowledge that even the devil himself will not get your wealth if you pass over.
If for some reason you want to protect your Bitcoin, just ignore everything I wrote. Even better, do the opposite. But all you need to do is secure your investment in the only censorship-proof and inflation-proof store of value ever invented. And why would you want to do something so boring?
This article does not contain investment advice or recommendations. Every investment and trading move carries risks, and readers should do their own research when making a decision.
The views, thoughts and opinions expressed herein are those of the author only and do not necessarily reflect or represent the views and opinions of Coin-Crypto.
Jameson Lopp has been actively building the Bitcoin space since 2015 and has become one of the most respected voices in the Bitcoin developer community. He was previously an engineer at BitGo, where he developed his high-quality multisig custody service before joining Casa, a company that provides secure wallets and plug-in-play infrastructure solutions for Bitcoin.