What is an Air Gap?

A cryptocurrency air gap is a physical and digital separation used for increased security of cryptocurrency assets. An air gap is designed to create a barrier between an individual's cryptocurrency assets and the internet to protect against hacking or cyber-attacks. This is accomplished by storing the assets on a computer or device that is not connected to the internet, so that even if a hacker gains access to the network or device, they will not be able to access the assets stored on the air-gapped device.

An air gap is particularly useful for individuals and organizations that hold significant amounts of cryptocurrency, as it provides an extra layer of security against theft or loss. In order to transfer funds from an air-gapped device, a user must physically move the funds to a connected device, which requires physical access to the device. This makes it much more difficult for hackers or malicious actors to access and steal the funds.

It is important to note that while air gapping provides increased security, it is not a foolproof solution. For example, an air-gapped device can still be vulnerable to physical attacks or theft, so it is important to take other measures to protect your assets, such as storing the device in a secure location. Additionally, while air gapping can provide added security for long-term storage, it may not be practical for everyday transactions and may not be necessary for individuals or organizations with smaller amounts of cryptocurrency.

Simplified Example

Think of a cryptocurrency air gap like a safe in a bank. Just like you keep your money and valuable things in a safe to keep them safe from theft, you can also keep your digital money (cryptocurrency) in a special place that's not connected to the internet to keep it safe from online bad guys.

Just like you need a special key or code to open a safe, you also need a special code (your private key) to access your cryptocurrency. And just like you can carry your money from the bank safe to your wallet, you can also transfer your cryptocurrency from the air gap to a connected device to spend it. This way, you keep your money safe even when you're not using it.

History of the Term "Air Gap"

The term "air gap" in the context of cryptocurrency, although its precise origin is unclear, is thought to have surfaced in the early 2010s as the idea of employing physical isolation to secure cryptocurrency wallets became prominent. Before this, numerous cryptocurrency users stored their private keys, crucial for managing cryptocurrency holdings, on internet-connected devices, exposing them to potential cyber threats.


A hardware wallet, such as Trezor or Ledger, that is used to store cryptocurrency and is not connected to the internet.

A computer or device that is used to store cryptocurrency offline and is not connected to the internet.

A paper wallet, which is a piece of paper or other physical medium that contains the private key for a cryptocurrency wallet, is an example of an air-gapped storage solution. The paper wallet is not connected to the internet, which makes it more difficult for hackers to access the assets stored on the wallet.

  • Private/Secret Key: A unique, secret code that is used to secure and access a cryptocurrency wallet.

  • Cold Wallet: A physical device used for storing cryptocurrencies that is disconnected from the internet.