Why do I need a vanity address
You may have seen bitcoin addresses that differ from the generally accepted ones. In them, most often, the name of the owner of the wallet is encoded, the name of the company or charitable foundation. Such addresses, where the alphanumeric value does not seem completely random, can be found by looking at the output of some transactions or in the blockchain explorer. This is called the vanity or vanity address.
In fact, this solution does not bear any practical benefit. This is nothing more than a way to associate a wallet and its holder. Bitcoin addresses are complex alphanumeric codes that are almost impossible to memorize. But you can generate a bitcoin vanity address by changing part of the alphanumeric string of your address to make it easier to recognize.
For example, the well-known transaction concerning Iran and completed in November 2018 at addresses entered by the U.S. government on the black list included two bitcoin vanity addresses: 1JEWSxAgGhSWuNPHUAr13zftNLjYt5wZaS and 1MoSSaDDSStrRo53YjPaGcXiABAXKYuVEL
As you can see, after the required unit, there is a part of the string that does not consist of random characters.
How to assign a name (label) to a bitcoin address
Generating conceited addresses is usually a tough process, requiring testing of billions of combinations and many checks to achieve the desired result. For example, it will probably take years to create a vain 7-word address, as each individual letter increases complexity by 58 times. This search is performed in a probabilistic way, so the longer the selected line, the more time it will take for the computer to generate the address according to the specified parameters. One of the generation options is the Vanitygen service, which looks for matches between the specified text string and randomly generated public keys.
There are also online services such as Vanity Pool or Vante.me, which allow you to search using powerful site servers instead of the user’s computer. Vanity addresses can also be generated using the vanitygen-plus utility. The utility can create an address with personalization of six letters, which means that an attacker trying to replace your address will have to do a lot of work to generate it, and income is often not worth the effort.
There are two problems with creating addresses:
- Cost. Resources use third-party computing power, and this is not free (payment is made in bitcoins and grows in proportion to the length of the selected name).
- Security. Generating a vanity address by an online service also means creating a private key without the absolute certainty that the latter is not stored by the service itself.
In fact, from a security point of view, the best way to create a vanity address in bitcoins is to make the necessary calculations on your personal computer, preferably offline. Anyone can generate a vanity address of arbitrary length using appropriate tools, however it will most certainly take a very long time.
Are vanity addresses more secure than regular addresses
Technically, vanity addresses and regular addresses provide the same level of security, since both are generated using the same algorithms. Although reusing addresses is highly undesirable, using conceited addresses allows customers to easily check whether the address to which they send bitcoins is really yours.
All they need to do is look at the human-readable part (1Safe), a few characters after it, and then at the last part of the address (HSzg). One of the drawbacks of using a vain address is that an attacker can create a similar address, hack a site and replace the original one. In this case, unsuspecting users may simply not pay attention to the first part and conclude that this is the same address. It is also worth paying attention to the fact that a vanity address reduces transaction privacy.
The random addresses do not contain any information indicating the owner, and the vanity address allows you to trace the path to the asset holder. Analyzing the statistics, it can be argued that truly large and experienced traders never resort to this method of identifying their personality.
If you still decide to use a personal Bitcoin address, it is advisable to periodically transfer the main assets to a cold storage, which is only under your control, for reasons of confidentiality and security. Despite its shortcomings, the vanity address can be a nice addition for anyone who wants to publish their address in bitcoins and have a permanent association with it in the crypto community.
Also, if you still need a vanity address for some reason, and you decide to contact one of the services, carry out your independent examination. Pay attention to the life of the resource, the reviews about it on the forums and in expert articles, and only then make a decision.