When Absolutely No One Can Steal Or Return Lost Ethereum Classic Funds

6/17/2017 Christian Seberino

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People often ask the Ethereum Classic (ETC) developers to return their lost funds. Typically, no one can steal or return lost funds. This is because of private keys.

Private Key Basics

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Private keys are just random numbers. All ETC user accounts are associated with unique private keys. These are needed to do nearly everything. ETC clients (wallets) typically manage user accounts and private keys for users. In my Ethereum Classic Public And Private Keys: A Little Enlightenment paper I show how to derive ETC public keys and addresses from private keys.

Private Key Security

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If private keys are truly random, and kept private, they simply cannot be determined. Notice cryptographically secure random number generators are crucial. Some may wonder whether ETC public keys and addresses can divulge private keys. Computing private keys from ETC public keys and addresses is unimaginably difficult. It would take billions of computers longer than the age of the universe!

Private Key Possibilities

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Future mathematical breakthroughs and quantum computers could conceivably jeopardize ETC private keys. However, after decades of work, these breakthroughs are still elusive.

Conclusion

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The ETC system was designed to give users control over their funds. Therefore, typically no one can steal or return lost funds. So please do not ask the ETC developers to do the impossible!

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Acknowledgements

I would like to thank IOHK (Input Output Hong Kong) for funding this effort.

License

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This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 4.0 International License.


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