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Below is our recent interview with Dr. Douglas Bakkum and Jonas Schnelli, Founders of Shift Cryptosecurity. Douglas Bakkum, PhD, is an accomplished neuroengineering scientist with a strong skill set in hardware and software engineering, AI, computer science, robotics and bioart. Jonas Schnelli, one of the most trusted developers in Bitcoin, is a maintainer of the Bitcoin Core software, being one of the few people in the world with commit access to the Bitcoin code base.
Q: Could you provide our readers with a brief introduction to Shift Cryptosecurity?
A: Shift, a spin-off of one of Europe’s leading engineering universities, the ETH Zurich , was incorporated in Switzerland in 2015.
We were pioneers in the world of applied cryptography, and have assembled a team of 15 specialists to create the BitBox, what we believe to be the market’s most secure “hardware wallet” which acts as a secure vault for a wide range of digital currencies.
Q: You’ve recently announced BitBox Basecamp, a hardware security platform for crypto exchanges; could you tell us something more?
A: “BitBox Basecamp” is what we call our OEM solution to provide the ultimate in protection for digital assets managed by online exchanges. Based on our BitBox hardware security module, the Basecamp solution significantly reduces the risk posed by hackers to steal online digital assets by protecting the private keys of their customers. It also gives exchanges the tools they need to implement powerful, customized security features such as:
• Phishing-resistant connection to their platform,
• Offloading of private key storage, and
• End-to-end branding of their services to increase customer loyalty and retention.
Exchanges and businesses in cryptocurrency can now leverage our expertise in secure hardware and bring technology traditionally used by banks and big business to consumers. With the recent thefts of billions of dollars worth of digital assets from online exchanges around the world, it is our mission to give people the tools they need to secure their digital assets.
Q: What are the unique advantages of BitBox?
A: We have six security pillars:
• Physical isolation of private keys,
• 100% open source hardware and code (Shannon’s Maxim, “the enemy knows the system“),
• Rigorous adherence to latest industry standards and best practice,
• State-of-the-art encryption and anti-phishing technology,
• Second factor authentication (2FA), and
• Multisignature support.
These tools give our customers what they need to defend against attacks.
Q: What about security? Can it be hacked easily, in case of being stolen?
A: The BitBox, if stolen, is useless unless the thief knows the PIN to unlock the device. After 15 failed attempts to unlock it, the BitBox resets and erases all stored secrets. Additionally, a dedicated high-security encrypted chip stores the users’ private keys, and all electronics are encased in epoxy to provide physical protection. And to top it off, the BitBox implements two-factor authentication, meaning that any transaction that is attempted must be confirmed via the owner’s smartphone, the BitBox alone is not enough! For the highest level of security, multisignature is also supported: two or more persons, each having a different password, are required to authorize a transaction.
Q: What do you think about the future of cryptocurrencies?
A: There are an currently 20-30mn users of cryptocurrencies, of which more than 20mn have traded in excess of USD150bn on Coinbase.com alone. Blockchain.info has enjoyed weeks where 100k wallets were downloaded. We are in early days when it comes to mass adoption of cryptocurrencies, but one thing is clear: they are not going away. We believe deeply in the cryptocurrency promise of financial sovereignty. As engineers, we have understood that this requires people to hold their own cryptographic keys and verify their own transactions with their own hardware.
Q: What is on the roadmap for Shift Cryptosecurity moving forward?
A: In addition to our next generation wallet which will be launched during the second half of 2018, we are expanding our scope beyond personal hardware wallets; we are now developing a “Node in a Box” which allows individuals and businesses to verify directly their cryptocurrency transactions on their own blockchain node. These hardware building blocks are foundational to the further development of bitcoin and cryptocurrencies. Remember, the “crypto” in cryptocurrency stands for cryptographic. We will continue to innovate on cryptography and the hardware needed to enjoy the benefits of the decentralized world of crypto.