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Ben Mezrich's book Bitcoin Billionaires taped to the wall
Basics of Crypto Security

Bitcoin Billionaires and the Security of Money

A story of genius, betrayal, and redemption by Ben Mezrich


In the 2010s The Winklevoss brothers, Cameron and Tyler, set about securing their recent purchases of Bitcoin. Realizing that a new security protocol was needed to thwart hackers, they created a systematic way to protect their crypto assets — one that involved safety deposit boxes, regional banks, sledgehammers, and concrete. In Ben Mezrich's book, Bitcoin Billionaires, shortly to be available in paperback, he describes the meticulous detail that went into securing these assets, as well as stepping back and telling the story of how Bitcoin and cryptocurrency became a worldwide phenomenon.

In talking with crypto insiders, the first question is always, when did you come across the Satoshi White Paper? After that there's so many twists and turns that get us to the present day, that's it's difficult to see the key pivotal moments that have defined this movement. Ben puts this story into focus, connecting the dots between the people, the government and the technology. By doing so he shows that cryptocurrency is not just a fad, but a meaningful evolution of money, with most of its history yet to be written.

After Satoshi's white paper, this is the book that everyone needs to read, to understand where Bitcoin came from and where it is going.
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Vault12, personal crypto security

So why a review of Bitcoin Billionaires, you may ask? Whilst reading it to understand the people and the chain of events, I was surprised to find that many of the people involved in bringing Vault12, a personal crypto security platform, to fruition are part of this story; from early investors like Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss, to lead investors and advisors, Naval Ravikant and Matt Pauker, co-founder of 21.co.

When I read Chapter 11, however, Ben's account brought to life the very challenge that Vault12 was created to solve.

Security of Money

The great irony of digital money is that to secure it, you have to rely on paper stored in traditional banking institutions. Luckily companies like Gemini and Vault12 are leading the way to give people options to secure their assets.

If we look, historically, at every monetary system we see that each approach had a very specific way for investors and consumers to protect money.

The world has gone from simple bartering, to exchanging shells for goods and services, to Gold-backed currency, in 1792 the US Dollar became the official currency of the US. And in 1971 the switch was made to fiat money,

In the last 10 years we have seen digital money, cryptocurrency added to the mix - from burying treasure, hiding cash in the mattress, to bank safety deposit accounts, FDIC, and regulatory bodies looking out for the interests of retail investors.

Looking forwards — think of all of the products services, jobs, opportunities, profits, regulations that have flourished across all sectors as the very nature of money has evolved over the generations — all because there were suitable ways for protecting money itself.

As Ben tells it, in the early days the story was very different for crypto:

"In the world of virtual currency, paranoia had no bounds — in the end, only the paranoid would survive. And the twins were hell-bent on surviving."
"Cameron and Tyler had set off across the country, creating what they believed was the most secure storage system in the history of Bitcoin. USB sticks and computer hard drives could be stolen or hacked. Private keys on paper in a vault could be photographed or taken. But shards spread out all over the country, in a dozen different safety-deposit boxes — that was different. Only the twins themselves knew where the shards were, or how the shards went back together. Only they could retrieve their private key and get to their bitcoin."
"A total of twelve safety-deposit boxes, held across three different banking institutions, and spread across four distinct regions in the United States, completed their security design. The twelve pieces of paper in these twelve safety-deposit boxes would make up the only four copies of the twins' private key in the world…"
"…Cameron and Tyler's homemade, off-line or "cold" storage system, built of paper and metal lock boxes, was ironically state-of-the-art; it rooted the security of the twin's bitcoin in the physical world, outside the reach of online hackers."

Excerpts From: Ben Mezrich. "Bitcoin Billionaires." Apple Books. https://books.apple.com/us/book/bitcoin-billionaires/id1441117720

A digital future

" In the early day of crypto investing, literally the best way to secure your keys was take them offline. And that's what most of the OGs did. We took crypto keys, we put them into vaults, offline, physical Bitcoins, physical products, because the moment your key is online, someone can hack them."
— Vinny Lingham, entrepreneur and advisor.

Technology has continued to evolve, resulting in new approaches that combine top-notch security with ease of use — the OGs might not need this, but your average retail crypto investor does. It's now possible with the mini-super computers we carry in our pockets to take an image in memory of your private key, encrypt it and distribute the shards directly to 12 trusted members of your friends and family, the original disappearing from your phone and nothing stored in any cloud, anywhere. This is the modern-day equivalent of what was done by the Winkelvoss twins in twelve safe deposit boxes with the first generation of bitcoin, and it is this type of security that powers the way forward — protecting your most precious digital assets in a simple and natural way so that you never have to worry about the security of money of any of your digital crypto assets.

Photo of Ben Mezrich book signing in Bryant Park
Photo of Ben Mezrich's books

Clearly, this is not a traditional review, but Ben, who is one of my favourite authors — now part of the Billions writing team, has weaved a dramatic tale that helps us understand the journey that bitcoin has gone through, and throws open the vista of a bright future for crypto. Read the book today.

Book signed by Cameron, Tyler Winkelvoss and Ben Mezrich
The author, Ben Mezrich and the Winklevoss twins at 92nd Street Y in the Summer of 2019

The author, Ben Mezrich and the Winklevoss twins at 92nd Street Y in the Summer of 2019

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Inheritance and self-custody for Cryptocurrency

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Digital Inheritance: Get ready today.

Vault12 Digital Inheritance is the first solution to offer a simple, direct, and secure way to ensure cryptocurrency, NFTs and other Web3 digital assets can be inherited by future generations.

Digital Inheritance enables investors to designate an individual or a mobile device as a guardian that will inherit their entire portfolio of digital assets inside a secure digital Vault once the time comes, eliminating undue risk and the need to continually update an inventory or issue updated instructions which result in privacy leakage.

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Self-Custody & Backup for Wallet Seed phrases, NFTs, and Secrets.

Designed to be used alongside traditional hardware, software, and online wallets, Vault12 helps cryptocurrency owners, professional crypto traders, and high-net-worth investors safeguard their digital assets without storing anything in the cloud or in fact, any one single location. This increases protection and decreases the risks of loss.

(Note: The Vault12 app is not a crypto wallet and does not hold cryptocurrency. It is a Vault that safeguards your wallet seed phrase and private keys, associated files for NFTs, and digital art).

The Vault12 app helps you self-custody, backup, and provide legacy inheritance for all your web3 digital assets, including NFTs, wallet seed phrases, secrets like keys, PIN codes, DAO project keys, and digital art.

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Collectors, ensure your Art is protected for the future

Whether your digital art is suitable for a phone, or represents much higher resolution multimedia, make sure that you have backed up a copy in case the resource link is disrupted in the future. Digital art can easily be added to the Vault either via the mobile app or via the desktop utility. Once you have stored your artwork in your Vault, it will also benefit from inheritance once you activate that in your app.

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Creators, protect your Projects.

As a creator you can use Vault12 to safeguard not just your NFT and crypto wallets, but also original digital artwork. Project creators will always have to deal with multiple wallets - inventory, treasury as well as future royalty wallets.

Vault12 safeguards your project assets, increasing protection and decreasing the risks of loss, whilst ensuring that everything is ready to go to be passed onto future generations, when the need arises.

Learn

Step-by-step guides for setting up your digital Vault and adding assets, recovering assets, inheriting and restoring Vaults. Vault12 Web3 personal security helps you recover, back up, and inherit all assets stored in your Vault including Bitcoin, Ethereum, crypto, private keys, seed phrases, wallets, NFTs and digital art.

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With the latest release of Vault12, now available in both iOS App Store and Google Play we have streamlined how you can use VGT to upgrade your Vault or fund your Vault for future. Right now there is a 50% discount on all plans if you fund your Vault with VGT.

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How to get the Vault12 app, create your own Digital Vault, and assign trusted Guardians to guard your Vault.

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