Articles on: Security

What are private keys? How do they differ from the recovery phrase?

First and foremost, it is important to note that both the private key and the recovery phrase are sufficient to access an address on the blockchain and operate the funds it may hold. In other words, this is information that should never be shared.

Now, although having either one ensures access to the funds stored in an address, there are substantial differences between the two, which are related to the cryptographic system that ensures the security of account creation in blockchain technology.

Specifically, the derivation process for generating a wallet is as follows:
Recovery phrase --(derivation path)--> Private key ---> Public key ---> Address

At each of these steps, asymmetric cryptography systems allow transitioning from one level to the next, but the reverse process is impossible. This means that sharing the address or the public key (although the latter is generally hidden from the user) is completely safe for the private key. At the same time, it should be understood that the recovery phrase is used to create/derive the corresponding private key, but the recovery phrase cannot be generated from the private key.

Furthermore, by changing the parameters of the derivation path, the recovery phrase can be used to generate other pairs of private keys and addresses. This makes backing up the recovery phrase the most convenient way to manage a set of addresses.

Updated on: 15/06/2023

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