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Let me start off by saying that my networking knowledge is fairly weak, so please bear with me.

I am reading the book "Mastering bitcoin" and it says that I should be running a node if I want API access to the bitcoin network - which I do want. I will be using bitcoin core to set up the node.

I've got a Macbook Pro that I do all of my coding on. I also use it for personal banking and other sensitive things activities. I connect to my home internet using wifi (other devices also use this wifi as well).

Is there a security risk in running a full node on this laptop, or should I buy another laptop to run it on?

Note that I may connect a wallet to the node, but with an inconsequential amount of btc in it. This node is entirely for learning purposes.

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You run a risk from co-mingling different activities. Your other activities pose a risk to your Bitcoin, and your Bitcoin node poses a theoretical risk to those other activities. The less activities on a single computer, the less chance that one of those activities will result in a security breach.

For example, if you are browsing reddit on that computer and click a link which exploits your browser and gives a third-party access to your computer, they will also have access to your Bitcoin wallet. That's not possible if the only thing on that computer is the Bitcoin wallet and you never use it for web browsing.

The risk goes the other way too. If there is a security vulnerability in Bitcoin core that enables access to your machine, your use of Bitcoin could mean somebody gets access to your browser history. This has never happened before, I would say it's much much less likely, especially if you have not setup port forwarding and therefore are only connected to a handful of nodes regularly, but it's not impossible.

Ultimately you will have to decide how much security you want and what cost that security is worth. If you are just playing around with small amounts of funds, you probably don't need to worry. But as you increase the amount of funds you are storing, you will probably want more security and be willing to do more to have that security. Having more Bitcoin in your node doesn't do you any good (unless you have it locked up in a lightning liquidity channel or are regularly spending much of that balance). Instead, mulit-sig, cold storage, and other solutions probably make more sense.

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  • Thanks for the reply. I've dug out an old laptop actually to use for this, based on your comment. My wallet will only have a couple dollars in it, just to play around with so I am not concerned about losing it (although if I were to lose it - the associated attack would be a concern). Question: Would other devices connected to my wifi network be more at-risk just due to the fact that I am running a node that's connected to the same network? Sep 28, 2023 at 13:06
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    Added risk exists in a theoretical sense but I wouldn't consider it significant. Somebody would need to find a remotely-exploitable flaw in Bitcoin Core, which hasn't happened in its 15 year history. Its code is probably the most widely monitored code in the world, any flaw would probably be discovered quickly and still requires that a node be able to connect to yours to exploit it. If you behind a NAT and haven't setup port forwarding, potential attackers are only the 8 other nodes you are connected to. If somebody can access your PC they would have a easier time connecting to your LAN PCs
    – Mr. T
    Sep 28, 2023 at 23:40
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I would not mix risky activities and security critical activities on the same computer/device.

Risky activities include reading email, browsing websites, using social media etc. I would keep all that separate from anything that involved personal money.

To reduce risks, I would put online banking on a dedicated device that is not used for any other purpose. I would keep bitcoin on a separate device too.

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