Staying safe while forking hard


Staff member
Dec 16, 2015
Let's discuss how to stay safe while running hard forks of the style that Satoshi originally proposed (alternatively called 'genesis fork' or 'spin-off').

This is a general topic, but since the threatening rhetoric ("is a coup") was initiated [1] and is being stepped up by Core supporters / HK meeting attendees on this forum [2], I think it's worth collecting helpful tips how we (and less experienced Bitcoiners who might want to support hard forks) can do so safely, i.e. not exposing ourselves to more personal risk than we feel comfortable with.

The obvious attacks will be against the budding hard fork networks. But there may be personal threats (hacking, doxxing, harassment etc.)
I would urge everyone not to underestimate the potential for such attacks and protect themselves adequately, primarily against the "rational individuals and small groups, motivated by profit" mentioned by Mike Hearn in his draft proposal for a pragmatic Bitcoin threat model [3]. However, I think there are also a fair number of irrational small-blockers, and I wouldn't discount them.

Personally, I will open with some recommendations which I deem useful:

#1 : @Gavin Andresen had a good thread on BCT [4], with recommendations I would like to draw attention to here again:
  1. Run the software in a virtual machine or on a machine that doesn't contain anything valuable.
  2. Don't invest more money or time than you can afford to lose.

#2 Given situations that we've seen with XT/Classic, I would add a couple:
  • Preferably run your nodes on Virtual Private Servers (with DDOS protection by that service provider) than on your home Internet connection
  • If you have to run over a home Internet connection, better do so over a Virtual Private Network (VPN)
  • Preferably have a separate VPN for such Bitcoin fork participation and keep your personal traffic separate on a different VPN
  • Never use unsigned binaries whose signatures you have not verified. Don't just download and run - verify those signatures!
  • Before you invest a lot of time running it, either review the code yourself if possible, or wait for some reviews (code and execution) by others.
  • Better to build from official sources instead of trusting someone's binaries, even if they are signed.
  • Install only the minimal amount of software needed to run. Check that no unnecessary daemons or applications are running.
  • Keep your systems up to date and patched.
  • Don't keep large amounts of Bitcoin on any PC (or VM)
  • Protect your nodes using firewalls and intrusion prevention software (e.g. fail2ban on Linux)
  • Have separate user accounts for the bitcoin software and your other user activities on the VMs. Beware of history and avoid applications which save passwords - run those under non-bitcoin accounts.
The good news is that anyone wishing to participate in the forks can start putting the precautions into place in advance. Just test that your environment works with current Bitcoin clients - spin-off clients are not likely not impose new requirements.

I am hoping that the old hands on this forum will contribute many more useful tips.

[1] Adam Back Says the Bitcoin Fork Is a Coup
[2] "we will not allow..."
Last edited:


Active Member
Nov 16, 2015
Besides all of the FUD surrounding splitting the chain, it is actually extremely simple to take part in such an event without any risk to yourself. Simply keep backups of your private keys, going back across different time periods.

When I backup my wallet.dat file on a USB stick I keep a history of the old backups as well on that same USB stick, this way no matter what happens you will have a share in any new chains that are created without exposing yourself to attack. Using this method you do not even need to be aware of any splits that have taken place.

Though I do recommend that if you do support a particular genesis fork/spin off then it it is in your best interests to support that chain, either by mining or running a full node, in which case it might be worth taken some of the precautions that @freetrader has mentioned here indeed.