Why Bitcoin is not like real money - and not nearly as safe

On the Bitcoin-forum there was a post by somebody who had 25000 bitcoins stolen.

Terrible for him, but it goes to show that bitcoin fans overlook certain facts in their "Oooooh we got digital money the government hates"...

Basically, with Bitcoin your money is either stored in the equivalent of a bank account, or in your wallet database - and because Bitcoin is all about peer-to-peer payments, everybody wants to cut out the middleman, and the money stays in your digital wallet on your own machine. But it's not really a wallet, is it? It's more like a safe or your own private bank vault - nobody would ever consider keeping such huge amounts of money (and 25000 Bitcoins is quite a sum) in their wallet where every pickpocket could steal it.

Nevertheless, that's exactly what happened here - the digital equivalent of a pickpocket stole money from a digital wallet by breaking into a computer and sending the money away.

In comments about this incident I've read that people compare this to a burglar finding the key to your safe and running off with a bundle of cash he found there - but that's not true. The digital wallet is just as unsafe as its real-world counterpart, because it's obviously easy to get access to it - you travel around with your wallet on the virtual roads of the Internet after all, you don't keep it in a protected place on a separate machine that's not reachable from the network (THAT would be (a) safe). Also, like a wallet, the contents of the Bitcoin database are easy to carry... unlike a huge pile of cash you'd store in a safe (which you wouldn't carry around with you all the time - you would KNOW it's not safe, and it would be a bloody nuisance).

So, what this incident shows is that Bitcoin makes people do a very very unsafe thing - keeping a huge pile of cash in their wallet where it's easily stolen by any script kiddie smart enough to install a remote-access trojan with keylogger.

If you want to see Bitcoin as real money - treat it like real money! Only keep in your wallet what you currently need, keep the rest stored in a safe place... banks may earn a lot of money now from ripping you off on loans, but they got important for offering you a safe place to store your piles of cash, charging you money for protecting it from theft.