U.K.-based multinational security services company G4S has developed high-security “vault storage” for holding crypto assets
G4S (LSE: GFS), a security services provider with operations in more than 90 countries, guards everything from cash transfers to nuclear power plants and prisons. The London-headquartered company has now started to offer cryptocurrency protection, according to a recent report.
Secure Vault Storage
The company, which has more than 560,000 employees throughout the world, announced on Wednesday that it has developed a new service providing high-security offline cryptocurrency storage, to help to protect assets from criminals and hackers. And the company is already providing the service to an unnamed European exchange, according to the Financial Times. It charges clients based on the number of different offline storage devices they want to use to store their private keys, and reportedly uses its own existing vaults for the service, rather than newly built facilities.
The company’s press statement confirmed that cryptocurrency exchanges are already turning to them for help. Dominic MacIver, senior risk analyst at G4S Risk Consulting, commented: “Our clients approach us to discuss solutions to their requirements because of G4S Cash Solutions’ experience in protecting high-value items and G4S Risk Consulting’s experience in developing bespoke solutions to complex challenges. Working with our clients, we are continuously applying their expert knowledge of crypto-assets and our best practice in physical security to a sector at the cutting edge of financial technology.”
Heavily Restricted Access
The service is said to be more secure then other methods because G4S takes the keys offline, breaks them up and stores them in high-security vaults. Moreover, access to the sites in which they are held is said to be heavily restricted, with multiple layers of security. Clients can only gain access when all of the pieces are combined with specific technology.
“Offline storage has become a more established and secure way of storing crypto-assets,” MacIver said. “At the same time, violent robberies and kidnappings in recent years have shown that the sector is still exposed to conventional criminal threats. In collaboration with our client, our security solution is built on a foundation of ‘vault storage.’ We not only take the assets offline, but break them up into fragments that are independently without value and store them securely in our high security vaults, out of reach of cyber criminals and armed robbers alike.”
What level of security should investors demand from exchanges? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.
Images courtesy of G4S, Ed Robinson/OneRedEye, Tom Parker/OneRedEye.
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Keeping cryptocurrencies safe is a fundamental part of participating in the digital economy, and hardware wallets have become popular security solutions. These days there is a slew of devices on the market, each with its own options and features. One of these is the Keepkey wallet, a product that’s been well received by digital currency investors over the last three years.
The Keepkey Hardware Wallet
Earlier this week I took a look at the Keepkey hardware wallet, a device that allows users to store multiple cryptocurrencies in a secure fashion. Keepkey is sold for US$129 per device, which is more expensive than the Ledger Nano, Coolwallet S, and Trezor One. Nevertheless, the small rectangular device is more pleasing to hold and the screen looks very nice when the Keepkey is operating. The case the Keepkey comes in is packaged well and resembles an unopened Apple product. Keepkey, Coolwallet, and the Ledger all have well-packaged boxes compared to the Trezor One packaging.
The black Keepkey box is sealed in plastic wrapping and when removed there’s also a piece of tamper-resistant tape holding the box closed. After inspecting the tape and making sure the box has not been opened previously, a knife is needed to cut the tape’s seal. Inside the box is a Keepkey, a 12-word seed card, a USB cord, and some warranty information. The Keepkey has a plastic anti-scratch film laid over the device’s screen and is encased in black foam. Keepkey’s large OLED screen is pleasing to look at and is probably one of the device’s best features. After opening the Keepkey, I headed over to the company’s Getting Started page and downloaded the Keepkey application for Google Chrome. Keepkey only works with Chrome, but it’s the same with most hardware wallets now.
Connecting to Chrome and Initializing the Seed
After installing the application to Chrome, the platform asks you to plug your Keepkey in to get started. Immediately after initiating the Keepkey it required a firmware update and would not start the process of initiating a seed until the firmware was downloaded into the device. Removing the USB cable from my Keepkey was an uncomfortable feeling and it took a bit of force to insert and remove the cord compared to other devices. Ledger Nano is probably the best as far as connecting the cord, with the Trezor One following behind because my Trezor device has always had a weird connection feeling as well. However, after using the USB connection a few times with the Keepkey, connecting was easier and got much more comfortable to insert over time.
Moving on, the Keepkey begins by initiating a new device name, seed and PIN. The program makes you double check the PIN twice and then asks you to write down the seed phrase, which is located on the device itself. Unlike other hardware wallets, the Keepkey does not require you to double check the 12-word phrase. After this process, you are granted access to the first account which is dedicated to BTC. In order to add other cryptocurrencies, there is a dropdown menu that allows users to add BCH, DOGE, LTC, ETH, plus a range of ERC20 tokens.
Transactions, Shapeshift, and Comparisons to Other Models
Unlike other hardware wallets, Keepkey needs to be plugged in to view accounts and they can’t be seen when the device is disconnected. After the initial seed had been set up, I created a bitcoin cash (BCH) wallet to send myself some funds. Anytime I test a new wallet I always send a small fraction of crypto just to make sure the application is working properly. The wallet immediately saw the transaction; you can view confirmed and unconfirmed transactions in a separate window that’s tethered to a block explorer.
The Keepkey’s interface is fairly intuitive, and you can change things like the PIN or use the wallet’s in-client Shapeshift option within the settings section. Sending and receiving is simple and the actual device itself is used for signing verification, while also showing sending/receiving addresses on the screen as well.
Following the transaction, I decided to look at the client’s Shapeshift integration. Keepkey is owned by the firm Shapeshift AG and was one of the first hardware wallets to offer trading abilities within the wallet. Recently, however, Shapeshift has changed the platform’s business model to a membership exchange and all Keepkey users have to register using the client.
The required items needed to use Shapeshift include a verified email and the user must submit a photo ID to trade. All of these tasks can be done through the Keepkey client and a quick email verification. After the account is processed you can trade on the Shapeshift exchange in-wallet using the “quick” or “precise” trading options.
Overall, the Keepkey operates fairly smoothly and I didn’t really have any problems throughout the setup and funding the device. The Keepkey’s user interface is more comfortable to move around and use than the Ledger Nano, and Keepkey operates similarly to the Trezor One. Unlike the Trezor or Ledger, the Keepkey uses one button navigation but still works fluidly with the wallet’s tasks like sending and receiving. The device doesn’t have support for too many cryptocurrencies right now, and other products offer a greater selection. But as far as the coins it does hold, the Keepkey offers an easy to use operating system and is just as secure as its competitors by using similar opsec techniques.
What do you think about the Keepkey hardware wallet? Let us know what you think about this device in the comment section below.
Disclaimer: This editorial should be considered Review or Op-ed material. The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own. Bitcoin.com does not endorse nor support views, opinions or conclusions drawn in this post. Bitcoin.com is not responsible for or liable for any content, accuracy or quality within the Op-ed article. Review editorials are intended for informational purposes only. There are multiple security risks and methods that are ultimately made by the decisions of the user. There are various steps mentioned in reviews and guides and some of them are considered optional. Neither Bitcoin.com nor the author is responsible for any losses, mistakes, skipped steps or security measures not taken, as the ultimate decision-making process to do any of these things is solely the reader’s responsibility. For good measure always cross-reference guides with other walkthroughs found online.
Images via Jamie Redman, Keepkey, Shapeshift, and Pixabay.
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Hundreds of startups are reportedly being “secretly” targeted by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission for their involvement with initial coin offerings. Companies that participated in ICOs are now scrambling to clarify whether their token constituted a security, and, if so, whether it was properly registered with or exempted by the SEC.
SEC ‘Tightens the Noose’ on Startups That Used an ICO
Yahoo Finance and Decrypt claims that “Hundreds of startups that did token sales are finding out they’re in violation of securities law— including many that were sure they did it the right way.”
The auspicious beginning of the present year came with subpoenas, characterized by the Commission as informational in scope. There appears to be more than mere cataloging of the crypto landscape, as “the Securities and Exchange Commission has significantly widened its crackdown on certain initial coin offerings, putting hundreds of cryptocurrency startups at risk.” The agency “has returned to many of those companies, and subpoenaed many more—focusing on those that failed to properly ensure they sold their token exclusively to accredited investors,” Decrypt notes.
Formal litigation can be costly, taxing a given regulatory bureaucracy’s workload and clogging up courts and judges. It also appears the agency is at first moving to have suspected companies in violation settle. “In response,” Roberts explains, “dozens of companies have quietly agreed to refund investor money and pay a fine. But many startups that have been subpoenaed say they are left in the dark struggling to satisfy the SEC’s demands, and are uncertain of how others are handling it, according to conversations with more than 15 industry sources.”
IPOs Died in the US, Startups Resorted to ICOs
Compounding matters is how this widespread investigation was unearthed: anonymous sources due to the fact the agency formally “restricts them from discussing the matter,” Decrypt insists. Initial coin offerings are a twist on initial public offerings, IPOs, which have been effectively strangled out of existence in the United States within just the last few decades. Legacy American stock markets, for example, have something close to half the number of public companies listed as they might have otherwise.
Saddled with regulations, barriers to entry and countless legal frictions only hordes of lawyers can battle, smaller companies have been priced out of the IPO model for bringing a business to public market in the US. Instead, those that might have participated at one point wait in the queue at merger and acquisition wings of established juggernauts. That, or they leave the US altogether and try their hand in places such as Hong Kong, which has, sure enough, seen an IPO boom recent years.
ICOs, then, are at least part of a response to that environment. Unaccredited investors, with minimal friction, have accomplished in ICOs at least two things most analysts agree: financial democratization and innovation, but at the expense of a wildcat space filled with scams. A startup can in a manner of clicks become presentable enough to sell a proprietary digital token quickly.
A Game of Definitions
About a month after subpoenas were sent by the agency, Chairman Jay Clayton seemed to make the regulator’s opinion going forward very clear. During a Senate hearing on the subject of cryptocurrencies, Clayton stated flatly, “I believe every ICO I’ve seen is a security.” But what constitutes an ICO then becomes the question if every initial coin offering is subject to their jurisdiction. The agency “does not care” about semantics, the report scolds, even though some “companies that did ICOs called their offering something else, such as a ‘utility token’ or a ‘SAFT’ (Simple Agreement for Future Tokens, an ICO method in which investors buy a reservation for tokens yet to be launched).”
Due to the cat and mouse nature of the space, “It is hard to say precisely how many ICOs occurred during the past four years,” Decrypt acknowledges. Thousands for sure, and more than “$20 billion has been raised in ICOs to date, but the ICO boom peaked in January 2018. Concerns over the legality of token sales have had a chilling effect.”
However, it is well known that all US firms anywhere near to offering a security are governed by the SEC in one form or another. And the agency does offer a formal exemption which asks participation be limited to vaunted “accredited investors” who earn more than $200,000 per year, for two years, and hold a net worth of at least $1 million – factors that probably led the company to seek an ICO in the first place. At that same Senate hearing, Clayton was asked how many had sought SEC approval. The answer came back ominously: almost none.
Will the SEC sorting out ICOs lead to a positive outcome for crypto markets? Let us know in the comments below.
Images courtesy of Shutterstock.
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