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A quick guide on crypto vanity addresses: How to generate them and their safety concerns

A quick guide on crypto vanity addresses: How to generate them and their safety concerns

A quick guide on crypto vanity addresses: How to generate them and their safety concerns
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By CNBC-TV18 Nov 17, 2022 6:59 AM IST (Published)

For the longest time, one could not customise the public address of a crypto wallet in any way. You were stuck with this arbitrary mix of letters and numbers. However, that changed with the introduction of vanity addresses. Tag along as we explain what a vanity address is, how to generate one and whether or not it is safe to use such an address.

Every crypto wallet contains a public address and private key. You can think of the public address as your e-mail ID and the private key as your account's password. If someone wants to send you a mail, you need to provide them with your e-mail ID. Similarly, if someone wants to send you Bitcoin, you need to provide them with the public address of your Bitcoin wallet.

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Now, the public address of your crypto wallet is a string of randomly generated alphanumeric characters and could look something like this: 19HzGcf5dWpUMyEQNmfsJTJCNQZy8jENWB. It is an entirely senseless combination of numbers and letters.
For the longest time, one could not customise the public address of a crypto wallet in any way. You were stuck with this arbitrary mix of letters and numbers. However, that changed with the introduction of vanity addresses. Tag along as we explain what a vanity address is, how to generate one and whether or not it is safe to use such an address.
What is a vanity address?
Put simply, it is a public address that can be customised. It will function just like any other public address; the only difference is it will contain a phrase or combination of numbers that is special to you.
Therefore, instead of randomly ordered alphanumeric characters, you get a public key that begins with or contains your special word or numbers. It's like having a personalised number plate for your vehicle, only it's for your cryptocurrency wallet.
How do you generate a public address?
Personalised number plates cost money, but vanity addresses are usually free of charge. There are plenty of online vanity address generators that will create a crypto wallet with a customised public key.
All you have to do is enter the special word or number you want to include in your public address and hit enter. The platform will create a crypto wallet with a personalised public address and a private key that you should store safely.
If you do not like the public address generated, you can keep repeating the process until the platform generates one that you are happy with. Most of these vanity address generators are free of cost, and hence you could try it multiple times without any harm done.
Are vanity addresses safe?
Generally speaking, yes. However, there is a chance that hackers can gain access to the servers or database of the vanity address generator tool. From there, they can source the public address and private keys of the wallets generated through the tool. Armed with this information, they can begin syphoning funds to their wallets.
For instance, in September this year, a hacker stole 732 ETH from a wallet created by an Ethereum vanity address generator called Profanity. At the time, the loot was worth $950,000. The hacker then used the crypto tumbler, Tornado, to obfuscate the money trail and get away with the attack undetected.
Conclusion
Vanity addresses serve no practical purpose. Moreover, they are susceptible to attacks. Therefore, they are not a good choice, especially if you are going to use the generated wallet for long-term storage of a large number of coins. In this case, you are better off using an offline wallet, also known as cold storage.
Vanity address is a public address that can be customised. It will function just like any other public address; the only difference is it will contain a phrase or combination of numbers that is special to you.
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