How To Hack A Seed Phrase

How To Hack A Seed Phrase

Attempting to hack a seed phrase, especially one used for cryptocurrency wallets, is both unethical and illegal. Unauthorized access to someone else's cryptocurrency or digital assets is a crime, and I must strongly advise against any illegal activities.

However, for educational purposes, Here is everything you need to know about getting your seed phrase hacked.

How Does A Seed Phrase Work?

Entropy and Combinations: A 12-word seed phrase has 204812204812 possible combinations. This high number of combinations provides immense security against brute-force attacks.

How are Seed Phrases Generated?

Cryptographic Algorithms: Seed phrases are generated using cryptographic algorithms designed to ensure randomness and unpredictability. These algorithms are tested rigorously to prevent any predictable patterns that could be exploited.

Ways Your Seed Phrase Can Be Hacked

While seed phrases are designed to be highly secure, there are several potential ways they could be compromised, primarily due to user error, social engineering, or technical vulnerabilities. Here are some scenarios and how to protect against them:

  1. Phishing Attacks:

    • How It Happens: Attackers create fake websites or applications that look like legitimate wallet services, tricking users into entering their seed phrases.

    • Protection: Always verify the URL and authenticity of the site or application. Avoid clicking on links from unknown sources and double-check for phishing signs like slight misspellings in URLs.

  2. Malware and Keyloggers:

    • How It Happens: Malware installed on a device can monitor keystrokes or take screenshots, capturing the seed phrase as it is entered.

    • Social Engineering:

    • How It Happens: Attackers may impersonate trusted figures or support representatives, convincing users to share their seed phrase.

  3. Physical Theft:

    • How It Happens: If the seed phrase is written down or stored on a device, someone could physically steal it.
  4. Weak Passwords and Insecure Storage:

    • How It Happens: Storing seed phrases in plain text files on a computer or in insecure cloud storage can be risky if the device or account is compromised.
  5. Supply Chain Attacks:

    • How It Happens: If the hardware or software wallet has been tampered with before reaching the user, it could be compromised.

      How Your Seed Phrase Can Be Hacked Through Brute-Force

  6. Brute-forcing a 12-word seed phrase is theoretically possible but practically infeasible due to the vast number of possible combinations. Let's break down why this is the case:

    Word List Size: A typical 12-word seed phrase is generated from a predefined list of 2048 words (such as the BIP-39 standard word list).

    Combinations Calculation:

    • The total number of possible combinations for a 12-word seed phrase is 204812204812.

Let's calculate this:


This number is astronomically large. To put it into perspective:

  • Number of Atoms in the Observable Universe: Estimated to be around 10801080.

  • Seconds Since the Big Bang: Approximately 4.35×10174.35×1017 seconds.

  1. Computational Feasibility:

    • Even with a powerful computer that can try billions of combinations per second, the time required to brute-force a 12-word seed phrase would be many orders of magnitude longer than the age of the universe.

For example, if a supercomputer could try 1 billion (or 109109) seed phrases per second:

5.444517870735015×1039109=5.444517870735015×1030 seconds1095.444517870735015×1039​=5.444517870735015×1030seconds

Converting this to years:

5.444517870735015×103060×60×24×365.25≈1.725×1023 years60×60×24×365.255.444517870735015×1030​≈1.725×1023years

Given these numbers, it's clear that brute-forcing a 12-word seed phrase is not practically possible with current technology and methods. This is why seed phrases are considered secure for cryptographic purposes.

Brute-Forcing Seed Phrases with the Help of High Performance Computers

The development of high-powered GPUs, CPUs, and quantum computers poses interesting challenges and considerations for the security of cryptographic systems, including the brute-forcing of seed phrases. However, there are several factors to consider when evaluating the practicality of brute-forcing a seed phrase in the future:

Current Computational Power

GPUs and CPUs

  • GPUs and CPUs have become increasingly powerful, enabling faster computations. However, even with the most advanced hardware, brute-forcing a 12-word or 24-word seed phrase remains impractical due to the sheer number of combinations.

  • As calculated earlier, the number of combinations for a 12-word seed phrase is 204812204812 or approximately 5.44×10395.44×1039. For a 24-word seed phrase, it's 204824204824, an astronomically larger number.

Quantum Computing

Quantum computers operate on different principles compared to classical computers and have the potential to solve certain problems much more efficiently. However, several factors limit their current and near-future impact on seed phrase security:

Current State of Quantum Computers

  • NISQ Era: We are currently in the Noisy Intermediate-Scale Quantum (NISQ) era, where quantum computers have a limited number of qubits, and these qubits are prone to errors. The current technology is not yet capable of performing complex calculations at the scale required to brute-force seed phrases.

  • Error Rates and Stability: Quantum computers face significant challenges with error rates and maintaining qubit stability. Until these issues are resolved, practical large-scale quantum computation remains out of reach.

Quantum Algorithms

  • Grover’s Algorithm: This quantum algorithm can theoretically reduce the complexity of brute-forcing a seed phrase from 2𝑛2n to 2𝑛2n​. For a 128-bit security level, this means reducing the work factor from 21282128 to 264264, which is still an extremely large number requiring an immense amount of computational power.

  • Cryptographic Resistance: Cryptographic protocols are being developed to be resistant to quantum attacks. For instance, quantum-resistant algorithms are part of ongoing research and standardization efforts.

Future Considerations

Advances in Quantum Computing

  • Scalability: For quantum computers to pose a real threat to seed phrase security, they must scale significantly in terms of qubit numbers and error correction capabilities.

  • Timeline: Estimates suggest that practical, large-scale quantum computers capable of breaking current cryptographic systems may still be decades away.

Cryptographic Adaptations

  • Post-Quantum Cryptography: Researchers are actively developing cryptographic algorithms that are resistant to quantum attacks. These will likely be adopted before quantum computers become a viable threat.

Practical Implications

Even with the advancements in computational power, brute-forcing a 12-word or 24-word seed phrase remains impractical in the near to medium term. Cryptographic systems are designed to evolve with advancements in technology, and efforts are underway to ensure they remain secure against future threats, including quantum computing.

While brute-forcing a seed phrase is theoretically possible, it is practically improbable. The computational power required is so immense that it would demand an amount of energy equivalent to all the hydrogen in the sun to power a GPU capable of such a task. Additionally, even with this power, the time required to complete the brute-force attempt would be astronomical.

However, there's a little-known hacking trick that has persisted for years within the crypto community, affecting many users, myself included. You can read about my case here and another reported case here on Reddit .

Since there is no official name for this vulnerability in cryptographic academia, I've termed it 'The Weak Seed Phrase Guesser.' This vulnerability involves software that guesses seed phrases, with or without associated blockchain history. Once a valid seed phrase is identified, a bot monitors it, ready to snipe any deposits within nanoseconds.

A significant reason for the increase in this type of hack is the use of brain wallets, which have been discouraged for several years.

A brain wallet is a method where a password is used to generate a Bitcoin or Ethereum wallet. This approach gained some popularity in the past, allowing users to memorize a password that effectively serves as their wallet, rather than memorizing a 12 or 24-word seed phrase.

However, many users chose weak passwords like "password123." As a result, sophisticated attackers continuously scan through the most common passwords and check if any funds are associated with those brain wallets. Even depositing a small amount as a test will likely result in the funds being wiped clean almost immediately if a weak or medium-strength password is used.

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