Can Somebody Guess Your Wallet’s Seed Phrase?

If you are active in the crypto space, chances are that you have at least one crypto wallet. You most likely have more than only one wallet. Many chains have their specific wallets. As a result, active crypto users can have well over 50 different wallets. 

Now, each wallet also has its own seed phrase. With this many wallets, come the same number of seed phrases. So, what are the odds that somebody will guess your seed phrase? Let’s take a closer look at this.

Background Information on the Seed Phrase List

So, let’s do the math on the seed phrases. In general, a seed phrase has 12 words. Some wallets have seed phrases of 24 words, like a Ledger. However, after this sample, you will see that there’s no real need for such a long seed phrase. Every so often you will see the name ‘mnemonic phrase’. That word has the same meaning as the seed phrase.

Now, there’s a Bitcoin Improvement Proposal (BIP 39). This is a list of 2048 words for Bitcoin wallets for picking a seed phrase. However, other crypto wallets also use this list. An interesting part of this list is that there are no identical words that start with the same four letters. So, if you reinstall a seed phrase with autofill, you only need the first four letters of a word.

This list was set up in 2013. There are no changes planned for the foreseeable future in this list. In general, the list numbers from 1 to 2048. However, there are occasions when the list goes from 0 to 2047. There are also non-English lists available. It’s best to use the English list, though. Restoring a wallet with a non-English seed phrase may be difficult or impossible. The following video shows the BIP39.

How Does the Math Work?

Now it’s time to take a closer look at the math behind 12-word seed phrases. 

  • So, your first word, is a choice of 1 out of 2048. That’s still within reason.
  • Your second word increases the options to 4 million.
  • Once we get to the third word, the combinations go up to 8.5 billion. You have better odds of winning the Powerball lottery in the US.

As you can see, the number of combinations increases with each word. If you look at all the 12 words, you get a number with 39 digits. Is there even a name for such a number? But here you go, take a look:


Let’s put this even more in perspective. In the universe that we can observe, there aren’t even that many atoms. As a result, it’s nearly impossible that somebody will guess your mnemonic phrase. So, now that we know this, there’s hardly any need to use a 24-word seed phrase. To guess your seed phrase, you not only need 12 correct words. You will also need to put them in the correct order.

With a current, most up-to-date computer, it will take a few billion years to find that combination. You have better odds of finding a similar atom in the known universe. What is interesting is the following. You can break a 12-word seed phrase with 2^128 operations. However, you can break a 24-word seed phrase with the same number of attempts. So, there’s no need to add more than 12 words to a mnemonic phrase. The following video also gives an easy-to-understand explanation.

How to Secure Your Seed Phrase?

Once you have a seed phrase, you need to secure it. This is important, since anybody, with the seed phrase, has access to your account. That’s why many crypto wallets also need a password. This is an extra protection layer. So, this is how you can secure your mnemonic phrase.

  • Write down your mnemonic phrase on a piece of paper. Make sure to not store this phrase in a digital format. If your digital device gets hacked, your seed phrase gets exposed.
  • Copy the mnemonic phrase on at least two or three different pieces of paper.
  • Make sure to store these pieces of paper securely.

However, now we have a potential new issue. Paper can burn or become unreadable. For example, when there’s water damage. For this reason, many hardware wallet manufacturers offer seed boards. They make these boards of metals that are,

  • Waterproof.
  • Fireproof.
  • Anti-collision.
  • Corrosion Resistant.

They can also resist strong impact. So, they’re nearly indestructible. The picture below shows the SafePal Cypher. It can store up to 24 words. As already explained in this article, you only need the first 4 letters of each word.

Seed phrase

Source: SafePal


In case you ever wondered if somebody could guess your seed phrase, here’s the answer. We explain how a 12-word mnemonic phrase is enough to give maximum security. There’s no need to have a 24-word phrase. However, make sure that you store your seed phrase in a secure location.


The information discussed by Altcoin Buzz is not financial advice. This is for educational, entertainment, and informational purposes only. Any information or strategies are thoughts and opinions relevant to the accepted levels of risk tolerance of the writer/reviewers, and their risk tolerance may be different from yours.

We are not responsible for any losses that you may incur as a result of any investments directly or indirectly related to the information provided. Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are high-risk investments, so please do your due diligence.

Copyright Altcoin Buzz Pte Ltd.


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