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keep your wallet file encrypted and back it up to multiple locations on a regular basis (to update the backups with new private keys that are created by your client software).

there are also ways of generating bitcoin keys completely offline as well as producing signed valid bitcoin transactions completely offline. This way you can forward funds to keys that are not on a machine connected to the internet, or keys that are backed up only on paper (in multiple safety deposit boxes if you like). And also you can then put signed transactions from the offline machine onto a usb stick or whatever and then use a networked machine to forward those valid transactions to the bitcoin network.

Coinbase is doing something like this for their storage of customer funds. Coinbase seeks to be a bitcoin bank that wont get hacked or that if it somehow does get hacked (cough inside job, cough) that only very small losses could occur.

For what it's worth, Coinbase has no reported cases of fraud. We are tracking these kinds of things here:


For example, Bitfloor (which had 250K USD stolen): http://howdoyoubuybitcoins.com/from/bitfloor/

Verses Coinbase, which has no such history: http://howdoyoubuybitcoins.com/from/coinbase/

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