Basics

Everything You Need To Know About Bitcoin Private Keys!

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A private key is a secret number that allows bitcoin to be spent. Public and private key pairs are essential in owning bitcoins. A public key allows you to receive bitcoins and the private key keeps them safe. Knowing about private keys should be the first step in providing safety for your digital assets. In this article, you will get information regarding private keys and how a private key is generated.

Bitcoin Private Keys

Every bitcoin wallet contains one or more than one private key. These keys are saved in a wallet file and are mathematically related to the bitcoin addresses generated. The private keys must remain secret always because revealing it to a third party is like giving control over your bitcoins to them. It is a secret alphanumeric number used to send your bitcoin to another bitcoin address. A public address or public key is also an alphanumeric number that is derived from the private key. The derivations are through cryptographic math functions.

Bitcoin Private Keys

What are the uses of Bitcoin Private Keys?

The bitcoin private keys are primarily used for irreversible transactions. For spending your bitcoins, these private keys are required. The mathematical logic linked with each transaction whenever you the private keys, are the reason behind the irreversibility of the transaction. Even though these mathematical signatures are generated from the same private key, they are different for different transactions. So you can use the same private key for a long period of time confidently.

How is Private Key Generated?

Now let’s see how a private key is created.

Generating a Random set of data

To generate your private number, a cryptographically secure number generator is required. For this first, you need to generate a random set of data. This set of data is converted into a private number later.

Converting a random set of data into 256-bit number

Using any hashing algorithm, convert this random set of data into 256- bit number. The hashing algorithm calculates a fixed-size bit string value from a file. A file basically contains a block of data. These algorithms transform this data into a far shorter fixed-length value or key which represents the original string. SHA256 is a hashing algorithm that receives any length input, random data, and creates a 256- bit number.

hashing algorithm

Verify your Number

Now verify the generated 256- bit number. Check whether your number is between 1 and 2^256. If it is, then you can use the number as your bitcoin private key.

Add the Version Number

In every bitcoin private key, the number starts with the version number. Now add your version number and it makes easy to identify your private key.

Add Checksum

Adding the 32-bit checksum allows you to detect errors while you use private keys. For adding checksum, you need to get the double SHA256 hash algorithm of your new hexadecimal number.

Convert New Hexadecimal Into base 58

Convert the new hexadecimal into base 58, in order to prevent further errors. Base 58 helps to easily remove errors in alphanumeric characters.

Now you know, what is a bitcoin private key, its uses, and how to generate them. That’s the aim of this article and in the end, we hope that you got it. If you found this article useful and informative, kindly let us know.

Fred Harris is a writer and performer who got involved in cryptocurrencies at the start of 2017 when he was hired to work at a Bitcoin-related company. He's passionate about cryptocurrency, digital rights, IT, and tech and has been an avid writer and follower of the crypto and blockchain space since 2015. He is specialized in machine learning, artificial intelligence, blockchain technology, and big data.

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