Crypto Vault: cold storage with style

Thursday 14 May 2015

Bitcoin is great as an online currency, but keeping it truly safe means keeping it offline. Crypto Vault lets you do that in style.

Bitcoin is the currency of the internet. Digital currencies transcend borders, economies and working hours. Every time I use bitcoin to make a purchase or transaction I’m continually amazed at how fast and neat a solution it is.

But there’s something strange about online money. By nature, it’s intangible. I don’t know whether the need for a means of exchange we can handle is hard-wired into humans - the result of thousands of generations of swapping goods and services for flint axe-heads, shells, iron blades and lumps of precious metals - or whether it’s learned, but I still like money I can hold.

Read more about: How to create really cold storage 

If you’re serious about crypto then you’ll know that cold storage is the only effective way to keep your coins safe. Now, the guys at Crypto Vault have come up with an attractive, tangible and secure way to keep your crypto offline.

Crypto Vault

Individually numbered. The reverse reads, faber est quisque fortunae suae: 'Every person is the artisan of their own fortune'

It’s a simple idea: create a mini vault, a physical coin with enough space inside to hide your own keys - for whatever your crypto of choice. The coin, once closed, is protected by a tamper-evident seal, so you’ll know if they’ve been accessed.

You generate and print out your own private keys - for bitcoin, the well-known site is recommended. (It’s a great site, very easy to use and works entirely offline for extra safety if you want.) It’s also suggested that you use a further round of encryption, BIP38 - essentially encoding your long private key with a shorter, memorable passphrase to slow down anyone who tries to access it.

Physical coins are nothing new, of course - the original physical bitcoin, the Casascius coin, was around as early as early as 2011, before Mike Caldwell was forced to shut down his operation by FinCEN. That was because he sold pre-loaded coins and was therefore ‘selling’ money. This, aside from irritating the Powers That Be, meant there was trust involved - you had to have a high degree of confidence that Mike hadn’t kept a copy of the keys. The Crypto Vault team have got around that problem by giving that responsibility to the customer, making it slightly less accessible to crypto newbies, but a whole lot safer and more versatile. (Incidentally, Mike Caldwell has recently started up a variation on his original business, selling coins with unfunded addresses in them.)

Crypto Vault’s coins start at $15 (bitcoin equivalent) for the copper-nickel alloy version, with new coins in the pipeline.

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