I’ve started to get interested in Ripple as not only does it contains a crypto currency, (XRP), it is also a fully fledged payment network. The other reason I’m interested is that it is now completely Open Source so that anyone can connect to the network and create applications that will use the system. Basically you could become your own bank if you wanted to!
Although you can write your own system to access the network the main way at the moment is the Ripple Client – This allows you to create a Ripple wallet and to pay another Ripple wallet holder and many other things.
Your Ripple wallet consists of a public and private key and a list of contacts (the people who you would trust to lend you money or who you would trust to store your money). All this information is encrypted (using an account name and password) and then stored either on your computer or stored at a trusted website (or sometimes both).
A word of warning – Ripple at present is still in BETA version so I would not recommend putting your life savings in your wallet. Although the wallet is encrypted YOU are responsible for the safety of your wallet and it’s contents.
If you use an easy to crack account name and password then any hacker can come in and steal your money within about 20 Seconds. As with Bitcoin the network is virtually anonymous and so you will probably never get your funds returned.
Now it’s not all doom and gloom. At present the only really secure way to use the network is if you are on a virus free machine with a 100% secure connection to the internet and you store your wallet locally (on your machine).
As with Bitcoins though, you could create your Private and Public key OFFLINE without it ever touching the internet. This would allow you to receive funds to your wallet for safe storage and you would be safe in the knowledge that no one could ever access your funds from cyberspace.
I’m going to document how I will go about creating an offline wallet in the next few posts.