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I'm new to the world of crypto currency and need some explanations on how Parity Signer in particular handles private keys.

As far as I've understood, the private key is the most critical piece of information: lose it, and you cannot access your wallet any more. That's why I'm concerned about having backups.

Parity Signer does not seem to support showing/backing up your private keys (for example, for an Ethereum account). As far as I can tell, this is by design.

The list of words presented when I create an identity in Parity Signer can be used to "recover", so the private key can derived from this list. This is one part of having a backup.

But is this derivation following a documented approach that will let me regenerate the private key by other means? For example, what if, 10 years in the future, Parity Signer does not exist any more and I don't have access to its source: would there still be a way for me to derive the private key from the list of recovery words? Is there any information about this derivation that I should write down so I can always recover in the future?

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    I think I understand it know but need confirmation from someone else: Parity Signer seems to use the BIP39 standard, and the derivation path for Ethereum seems to be m/44'/60'/0'/0/0 (iancoleman.io/bip39 produces the same account address for the mnemonics I've used; these are now "burned", they were just for testing). So I would need to write down something like BIP39 m/44'/60'/0'/0/0 along my list of recovery words. – DarkDust Apr 7 at 9:09
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Yes, Ethereum used BIP39 and those lists of words are called mnemonics. And if you used m/44'/60'/0'/0/0 the path to derive your private key even after 100 Years or in other platforms like metamask or any platform which supports m/44'/60'/0'/0/0 you will get the same private key.

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  • Thank you, but that doesn't my main question, which is: What is Parity Signer using to derive the private key? Is it really using BIP39 with the standard word list? – DarkDust Apr 7 at 11:44
  • The list of words is mnemonics and it refers to BIP39 only. And your derivation path is based on network. If you are using Ethereum then the path is m/44'/60'/0'/0/0 – Dharmveersinh Jadeja Apr 7 at 12:09
  • Unfortunately, it does not refer to BIP39 "only". I could (in the case of Parity Signer) and still does (for some other apps/services) be used with a different word list and/or derivation algorithm. – DarkDust Apr 7 at 13:23
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Parity Signer is using BIP39 since version 2.2. It was using a non-standard dictionary and algorithm before (GitHub issue).

So for new identities created with Parity Signer, BIP39 is used and with Ethereum, the derivation path is m/44'/60'/0'/0/0.

This was a bit hard to find in the source (and I'm only 99% sure) since the relevant code was moved into a now-external module react-native-substrate-sign.

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