Some months ago, using bitaddress.org (offline but using my normal operating system), I made a key pair, copied the key and address to paper and stored a small quantity of Bitcoin at the address. Later, of course, the computer was again connected to the Internet, but the money has not been stolen.

Does the fact that probably no malware captured my private key those months ago suggest that the key is safe? Is it credible that malware would capture an address with small amounts of Bitcoin, but not extract it in the hope that later more would be paid into the same address?

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    There is nothing useful to be said about this. Not all malware searches for Bitcoin private keys, your computer may or may not be effected by malware which we do not know, indeed people could wait for a larger sum of money to become available at that address? Why just not use a new one and make sure that you do not have any malware installed?
    – Jori
    Commented Sep 3, 2014 at 10:11
  • I haven't mastered yet how to boot my computer with Ubuntu, so until I have done that the question is HOW insecure my existing storage is. With the present stored amount it would be a nuisance rather than a catastrophe if the money were stolen.
    – Peter
    Commented Sep 4, 2014 at 8:18
  • Ubuntu does not guarantee some magical safety. You can be fine on Windows too, and you can be hacked on *nix systems.
    – Jori
    Commented Sep 4, 2014 at 8:36
  • Well, I thought the idea was that if you booted up your PC from Ubuntu from a disk or USB, i.e. a system which has never been connected to the net, there is no chance of malware recording your keys. Am I wrong?
    – Peter
    Commented Sep 4, 2014 at 10:38
  • That seems reasonable. I don't think much can happen if you boot from something like TAILS, but then you have to redownload the whole chain every time you want to interact with your money. I think you'll need the files (at least the chain) on a USB storage device or something to prevent that.
    – Jori
    Commented Sep 4, 2014 at 10:47

1 Answer 1


It is a fallacy of the alternative disjunct to assume that your private key is in fact private, just because a potential other party has not used it: The two events "somebody has gained access to my private key" and "nobody has used my private key" are not disjunct.

If you are uncertain whether your private key has been compromised, you should move your bitcoins to a securely created new address.

  • I had a Blockchain.info account without 2fa accessed 5 months ago and the password changed. I'm still dealing with malware on that computer (which is offline) but strangely the BTC stays unspent. It's strange to say the least Commented Sep 4, 2014 at 5:19

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