The Coinbase currency exchange generates private user keys and prints them on paper using the so-called Faraday shield tent. Wired journalist saw an unusual way to store cryptocurrency.
Silver “Faraday’s tent” doesn’t miss electromagnetic waves, thereby protecting the data from interception by cyber-fraudsters. To begin with, Coinbase employees set up the tent in a safe and randomly chosen location in San Francisco. By connecting a protected power source, they sit down comfortably and begin to work. In the tent there is only a folding table, a lamp, a printer and two laptops: the first runs on the Linux OS from a USB drive, and the second on an Apple operating system. They use special software to generate new encryption keys. The Coinbase command then divides the keys into several encrypted QR codes, which are then transferred to the MacBook. According to Zack Blacher of the Coinbase security team, Apple’s laptop makes it easier to print keys.
After this, the MacBook is destroyed for security reasons. Papers with QR codes are placed in secret places in San Francisco, where, theoretically, hackers can not steal them.
Head of the security team of Coinbase Philip Martin added that backup copies of keys are scattered around the world on USB-drives and hard disks in case “a small asteroid falls on San Francisco”. Philip Martin calls this ceremony the evolution of the bank vault. The procedure takes most of the day, and the Exchange employees do not leave the tent until they do all the work.
If a client wants to access a private key, he must first register on the Coinbase website. Then the team of the company communicates with it through video communication for additional protection and verification. After that, the quorum of the staff, who are called sages in honor of the heroes of the series of video games “The Legend of Zelda”, at the final stage satisfy the client’s request.
Coinbase, this year launched a custodial product for institutional investors, hopes that this demonstration of security measures will help it attract new investors. According to Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong, “a huge amount of institutional money is interested in the crypto sector, but they need a qualified institution that can act as the custodian of these funds.”