How to protect your digital assets from fire, flood, phishing, forgetfulness, and other forces of nature.

“Be vigilant and you will thrive.” –Nick Dodson

There’s a “cold room” in Attinghausen, Switzerland — it’s lined with slabs of steel, and it sits some 300 meters down inside a granite mountain in an old, repurposed military bunker. What’s inside? Air gapped hardware with the private keys of high value crypto holders who are looking for a little peace of mind.

These security measures might sound extreme, but the attack vectors are many in the cryptosphere: shams, scams, extortion, friends turning on friends, spoof friends. Users can’t flag fake accounts fast enough:

Fake Vitaliks. Fake Joe Lubins. How hard does anyone really look at social media handles? Someone flying through twitter is prone to miss the “l” in @etlhereumJoseph.

For many users, the bulk of their crypto is still sitting “hot” — in online wallets on centralized exchanges, which have had their share of reckonings over the years: the infamous Mt. Gox hack in 2014, in which hackers made out with approximately 740,000 BTC, and the Bitfinex breach more recently, which drained almost 120,000 BTC from the exchange.

And then of course the age-old threats, fire and forgetfulness (one man accidentally threw out $9 million worth of bitcoin). Attack vectors can be unassuming, furry even:

The problem is, misplaced crypto has a way of altogether disappearing — sometimes across jurisdictions and beyond the reach of the law, sometimes into cryptographic black holes (in 2011, 2,609 BTC vanished on Mt. Gox because of a scripting error). What’s liberating about blockchain is that you can become your own bank. But that can also be a daunting thing for many of us who have grown comfortable letting central institutions manage our lives for us. It’s time we educate ourselves.


Thankfully, Nick Dodson, founder of BoardRoom (now GovernX), just published his GitBook, “Pro Tips for Ethereum Wallet Management,” a security manual for naifs and tin foil hat types alike. Dodson’s personal security measures are admittedly Snowden-grade — we’re talking blanket over the screen and everything — but his mission is to empower users, not scare them off. He acknowledges the tradeoff between convenience and security. Too many security layers and you end up stumping even yourself when trying to access your crypto. Dodson gives you the resources to decide for yourself how sophisticated you want to get.

A word of caution: Compiling these pro tips brings with it the meta-anxiety that any tools or security measures we recommend here will now become the focus of bad actors. So stay sharp. But stay with it. Blockchain isn’t just about surviving. It’s about creating choices for yourself. As Dodson writes, “Be vigilant and you will thrive.”

1. Know the attack vectors.

AKA Know your enemy. Watch out for the proverbial “man in the middle” — someone trying to get in between you and your destination. Spoof sites, malicious websites that mimic other sites, can be picture-perfect nowadays. Make sure you double check URLs. Better yet, bookmark your crypto sites, and stick to your bookmarks (MetaMask also blacklists MyEtherWallet clones for you). Verify software downloads. A copy of Tails OS is no good if it’s infested with spyware. A man-in-the-middle attack can even be literal: one guy lost his life savings to a reseller on Ebay who pulled the recovery seed from a hardware wallet and repackaged the wallet. Always buy your hardware wallet directly from the manufacturer. Now think two steps ahead. Maybe your URLs look good. But how do you know someone hasn’t hacked your Wi-Fi, spoofed the DNS, and redirected you to different IPs? Safe computing is like chess: always assume your opponent is smarter than you.

2. Generate strong passwords.

You should know the drill by now — no birthdays, street addresses, song lyrics, etc. (don’t even get me started on my mom’s passwords). But even if you mash the keys on your keyboard, that’s still not random enough (you are not a good source of entropy). Password-crackers can rifle through 350 billion guesses per second. Use a random mnemonic generator to create a passphrase, or buy a hardware wallet to generate powerful keys and signatures for you. Multiple passwords are better than one. Multi-signature wallets, like Gnosis’, require multiple keys to validate transactions. And use two-factor authentication for everything: email, exchanges, Steam, etc. Heads up: the countdown might be annoying, but app-based two-factor is much more secure than SMS. Let this be your warning.

3. Use cold storage.

You don’t have to go 300 meters underground, but you should keep the majority of your crypto “cold” — that is, air gapped and offline. Only keep an amount in exchanges and online wallets that you are willing to lose. You can either build an air gapped computer by removing the network card from your PC or laptop (Tails is an operating system that you can run offline), or buy a hardware wallet. When generating the seed phrase, plug your hardware wallet into a wall outlet to keep it as cold as possible. Paranoia tips: cover the mic/camera of your laptop and remove any electronic devices from the room.

4. Test everything.

Make small test transactions or practice with a tiny bit of funds on a test network before going full monty. Never manually type out addresses (over 9000 ETH have been lost forever due to typos). Copy and paste, use Ethereum Name Service, or scan QR codes. Make sure your scan app is secure (Pro Tip #1: Know the attack vectors). Double-check the identicon of your target address. Before transferring any crypto onto your hardware wallet, test your seed phrase. If you’re building an air gapped computer, record and re-check the MD5 checksum before and after you load data onto the SD card. For the love of Ethereum, test everything.

A little paranoia is a good thing. Maybe not this much. When’s the last time you got out of the house?

5. Store your seed phrase(s) across different devices and locations.

A standard Bip39 seed phrase is that curious string of 24 words from which you can derive a private key. Manage your seed with utmost care. If you write it down on paper, consider making two copies and storing them in separate locations. SD cards are another storage option, but they rarely last more than five years, and they could be wiped by a pinch (EMP bomb). Use both analog and digital just in case (some people hammer their seed phrases into steel). If you want to level up: store pieces of your seed phrase in separate, safe locations. And remember: meticulously record your steps, so you (or your heirs) can recreate the seed.

6. Maintain plausible deniability.

Plausible deniability in the cryptoverse means the ability to keep certain data hidden. Here’s a helpful public emission guideline: don’t broadcast your holdings, and especially don’t tell the world (over social media) the exchanges where you keep all your crypto (again, this guy). All your crypto shouldn’t be hot anyway (Pro Tip #3: Use cold storage). You can hide accounts under different HD paths on your hardware wallet in case someone comes knocking. Also, minimize your risk exposure by distributing your holdings across multiple wallets.

7. Level up. Help the ecosystem.

Dodson finishes his GitBook by recommending four different levels of wallet setup, Level 4 being for the most rigorous users. It’s your call how sophisticated you want to get. But remember: your security choices affect not only you but the ecosystem. If you don’t use two-factor authentication, and someone seizes your email (that, say, you left open on a library computer), when that bad actor starts phishing your personal network, that’s on you. So challenge yourself to level up. Experiment with hardware wallets, Tails, and multi-sig. Channel your inner Snowden. Learn by teaching. Tell your friends about cold storage, and your mom about strong passwords. Help the community flag spoof sites and fake accounts. Dodson’s “Pro Tips” are a gift to the ecosystem, and something we can pay forward.


DISCLAIMER: This is not an investment advice or strategy; only an introductory material. If interested in using CDP, you should read more detailed materials involving more detailed descriptions of the liquidation process, fees, etc. Also, always do the math yourself and check your results. Do not trust the provided formulas if you have not checked they apply to your situation. Make sure you understand what you are doing. Be cautious and stay safe.

What is a CDP?

CDP is a Collateralized Debt Position, a smart contract where you store your ETH funds as collateral in order to take out a loan. Maker’s CDP allows you to take out a decentralized loan denominated in DAI stable coin.

As an ETH hodler, why should I care?

Suppose, as a true believer in Ethereum, you have invested all your available fiat into ETH already. Suddenly, there is a market situation such that you would like to “buy the dip” or simply increase your stack of ETH but you cannot since you have no fiat left. Nevertheless, thanks to CDP you can lock your already owned ETH as a collateral, take out a loan in DAI (~USD), and buy more ETH with it. This is called leverage and the principle is the same as margin trading.

What is the catch you are not telling me?

Well, the catch is that you have to repay your money otherwise your CDP gets liquidated and/or you lose your collateral. Please, never let your CDP liquidate! It is way more expensive than repaying.

Can you give an example of a bad loan setup?

Suppose you lock 150 ETH in CDP, Ether price is currently 900 USD. The max collateral/loan ratio of Maker CDP is currently set to 150%. Therefore, you can take out 90 000 DAI (100ETH*price) as a loan. Remember the loan is always in DAI. However, since you borrowed the maximum amount allowed (two-thirds of collateral), your liquidation price is exactly 900. If the price drops to 899.9, your CDP will be liquidated because its collateral is insufficient. Always make sure the liquidation price is sufficiently low.

OK, I see I shouldn’t go too much into debt here. Is that all?

No, there is another case that may arise. Suppose the previous situation, however, you take out only 30k Dai instead of 90k. Since your collateral/loan ratio is now higher, you are protected from liquidation as long as the price of ETH is above the liquidation price of around 300 USD (sounds sufficient). Remember again that the loan is denominated in DAI. If the ETH price goes to 500 USD, nothing changes and you still owe 30k DAI. This may cause issues when investing the borrowed funds. Suppose you invested the whole loan in ETH at the initial price of 900 but now one is worth 500 and you have no other money available. The CDP does not go into liquidation this time. However, you cannot repay the debt and free your collateral (you can partially but it’s still quite bad).

What do you suggest to avoid this?

If you plan to invest the borrowed DAI, never collateralize your entire bag of ETH. Always save an appropriate amount of money (form irrelevant) to be able to pay off the CDP at liquidation prices.

How do I find out how much is “appropriate”?

You need to do the math. I derived some formulas that may be helpful. They apply to the case of leveraging ETH only, i.e. using your bag of ETH to get a loan and invest in ETH again. As have been mentioned, you should have enough ETH left elsewhere to be prepared to repay the debt if the price begins to approach the liquidation price. I assume the purchase of ETH is at the same price as at the time the CDP is opened.

Notation: S = all ETH holdings you have prior to CDP, P = the current price of ETH in USD, LP = your desired liquidation price (yes, this is a parameter you must choose – please be cautious and set it at a safe low level that you consider unlikely to be reached)

Calculating the amount of ETH to deposit as collateral (deposit): D = S/[1-(2LP-2P)/3P]

Calculating the amount of DAI to “draw” from the CDP (loan): L = (2/3) *D *LP

Remember, you must always have S-D amount of ETH available to step in and avoid liquidation of your CDP. That should guarantee you are safe from the liquidation or the need to use additional funds. Nevertheless, it is still possible your investments will not be profitable and you end up losing money.

I am only waiting for the next paycheck and need the funds only temporarily to buy the dip right now. Can I collateralize my whole stack of ETH?

Yes, you can since you know you will get additional funds to repay the debt. However, remember not to go too much into debt to avoid liquidation.

I used the loan to buy ETH. Can I collateralize these funds as well?

Yes, you can but be VERY careful. You’d better do the math right! I would not recommend this since things may get messy and you may lose track of your debt easily.

I want to learn more and maybe get a CDP. What should I do next?

You should check the Maker CDP dashboard ( out and watch their introductory video and terminology guide. There is a couple of advanced things that I omitted and you should look into them (e.g. WETH, PETH). Further, visit the maker subreddit r/makerdao (please read the sad stories of liquidated CDPs) or other of their communities. Make sure you understand what you are doing before creating a CDP. It may be worth it to test the process on the Kovan testnet.

Why did you write this tutorial?

There was no complex material for beginners around that would highlight CDP’s possibilities as well as risks. I hope I introduced the instrument properly and it will get more traction eventually. Also, I am a big fan of the DAI stable coin.

I think there is something wrong in this text or something important is missing.

That is, of course, possible. In such a case, please, comment or pm me. I will be updating this text continuously.

DISCLAIMER: This is not an investment advice or strategy; only an introductory material. If interested in using CDP, you should read more detailed materials involving more detailed descriptions of the liquidation process, fees, etc. Also, always do the math yourself and check your results. Do not trust the provided formulas if you have not checked they apply to your situation. Make sure you understand what you are doing. Be cautious and stay safe.


Rep. Tyler Lindholm is a rancher in Sundance, Wyoming, and a Republican member of the Wyoming House of Representatives
. Caitlin Long, a Wyoming native, is former chairman and president of Symbiont and a former managing director of Morgan Stanley.

Wyoming is stepping up to welcome the blockchain community with open arms.

A grassroots group, the Wyoming Blockchain Coalition, has garnered significant momentum to pass a package of legislation that would bring significant benefits to both the blockchain community and the State of Wyoming.

The package of blockchain bills, which will be introduced during the upcoming session in February, will build on two characteristics of Wyoming that make it particularly attractive to the blockchain industry: zero corporate income or franchise taxes, and strict privacy laws governing LLCs formed in the state.

Companies don’t need to move to Wyoming physically to take advantage, just as most Delaware corporations aren’t located in Delaware. But but there are real reasons why businesses might want to move there. Cheyenne, the state capital, has tremendous fiber-optic bandwidth and cheap power that is already attracting major data centers to locate there, for example.

And our initiative has active support by officials at the state’s only university. So Wyoming has “good bones” upon which to build a regulatory framework to attract the blockchain sector.

Licensing exemptions

The blockchain community is likely to be most excited by one of the bills just introduced, H.B.0070, which would exempt tokens issued on an open blockchain from Wyoming’s money transmitter and securities laws, as long as the token has not been marketed as an investment and is exchangeable for goods or services. This bill would also exempt token exchanges (or people exchanging tokens) from being deemed broker/dealers under Wyoming law. The bill has garnered senior co-sponsors, including the Speaker of the House.

As always, whether a token would be considered, under Wyoming law, either a security or exempt pursuant to the new legislation, would be a facts-and-circumstances analysis. Businesses should seek their own legal counsel.

We view non-securities blockchain tokens as a new asset class that is neither money nor securities, and therefore believe existing money transmitter and securities regulations should not apply.

In many cases, for example, such blockchain tokens are simply prepaid software licenses. If tradeable gift cards and prepaid cell phone minutes are not regulated as money or securities, why should prepaid software licenses fall into those categories?

In many states, they do. In Wyoming, they should not, and we are optimistic that the legislature will agree.

Wyoming’s consumers will be protected by its strong anti-fraud and consumer protection laws, which we believe are sufficient to deter bad actors from doing business in the state. And businesses should analyze whether federal securities laws would still apply.

Other measures

The Wyoming Blockchain Coalition also supports two other bills as part of the package for the February session.

The so-called „bitcoin bill,“ H.B.0019, proposes to exempt virtual currencies from Wyoming’s money transmitter laws. Alone, this legislation will allow businesses that pulled out of Wyoming in 2015, such as Coinbase, to operate in Wyoming. This will add a vital new industry to the State’s financial sector. It, too, has garnered many co-sponsors, including the President of the Senate.

The third bill, the so-called „filings bill,“ would enable the Secretary of State to collect registrations on a blockchain, similar to that enacted by the State of Delaware last July. It would cover the filings made for corporations, LLCs and UCC financing statements. The goal of this legislation is to allow the official record of ownership and the official record of changes of ownership to exist on a blockchain. Eventually this will allow the State, counties, municipalities and businesses to eliminate paper trails such as deeds, titles and receipts.

LLC City

Wyoming led the way when it passed the nation’s first LLC law in 1977, and it can again be first by offering the ability to register LLCs on a blockchain. This could attract meaningful business to register in Wyoming, as academic research shows that nearly two-thirds of new companies that register in the U.S. are LLCs.

New types of LLC users, such as those seeking to limit liability for autonomous cars and other internet of things (IoT) devices, could be attracted to efficiencies enabled by blockchain-registered Wyoming LLCs. This is especially true for series LLCs, which is another initiative supported by the Wyoming Blockchain Coalition.

LLCs are so popular in Wyoming today that there is almost one for every two citizens of the state.

Wyoming can become a haven for the blockchain sector, building on its already-attractive attributes, if the package of blockchain bills are enacted. The bills provide tremendous benefits for blockchain businesses that either locate or register in Wyoming, as well as significant upside to the State. We welcome the blockchain community’s support in bringing these efforts to fruition.

As we say in Wyoming, let ‚er buck!

The authors wish to thank David Pope, Rob Jennings, the Wyoming Blockchain Coalition and Coin Center for their assistance.


An Intro to TrueBit: A Scalable, Decentralized Computational Court.

or: “An Intro to Panopticomputers: Code Execution Courts for Scalable, Decentralized Computation”.

The Ethereum community never ceases to amaze me. So many smart people working at the fringes of what’s possible. We haven’t really scratched the surface of what’s possible in the current iteration and we are already seeing amazing new opportunities come to the fore.

For the unenlightened, Ethereum can be described as a distributed “world computer” using blockchain technology. It allows developers the ability to upload code to a blockchain, upon which it executes the code when activated to change some information on a shared ledger. In other words, you can apply arbitrarily complex state changes to a shared, public (relatively) immutable ledger. Every node in the p2p network runs these state changes, whilst specific computers (the miners) make sure these state changes are difficult to reverse (by being rewarded the subsidy & fees). In order to execute state changes & computations one pays proportionally with the cryptocurrency of the platform, ether. The more computations you want to do, the more you will pay for it. The amount of computations are measured in a separate unit, called “gas”.

Source: An Intro to TrueBit: A Scalable, Decentralized Computational Court.

A New Approach to Cryptoasset Valuations

Valuation methodologies have historically lagged behind the development of the assets they represent. While the Dutch East India Company became the first entity to sell stocks on a public exchange in the early 1600s, it was not until the 20th century that a comprehensive framework for deriving the fundamental value of equity securities was developed. What Graham and Dodd benefited from in 1934 that their predecessors perhaps lacked was a broadly-accepted philosophy of disclosure (eventually codified in the Securities Act of 1933) and, more importantly, a reliable accounting system with unified measurement standards and practices— a common language for discussing value. Without rules of disclosure and requisite accounting conventions, current attempts at studying cryptoasset fundamentals will descend into the Confusion of Confusions that described seventeenth century stock market investment advice.

In this piece, I propose an extension to the prevailing methodology for valuing cryptoassets — one that I hope will alleviate confusion by clarifying the vocabulary used in discussions of value. In the first part of the post, I survey current debates on cryptoasset fundamentals and investigate their core monetary assumptions. I find current valuation models to insufficiently capture the complexities of these conversations, motivating a new approach, which I outline in the second part of this post. The proposed method intends to disjoin demand for commodities and demand for money by placing each asset in a broader economy of return expectations and friction constraints. It is important to note, before continuing, that valuation theorists generally caution against valuation of non-cash-flow-generating assets. As such, the methodologies outlined below remain largely exploratory and imprecise. Nonetheless, I believe these discussions to be valuable in developing directional insights on cryptoasset value, which can be a key lever for projects in optimizing their incentive structures (I write in more detail about this process of ‘mechanism design’ here).


There are a lot of Tracking Sites but this one has a real nice overview of the important data around your coins.



On May 6, 2010, the stock market collapsed. The Dow Jones Industrial Average, Nasdaq Composite and S&P 500 all nose-dived, losing around 9% of their value. A trillion dollars was wiped off the value of companies. Within 20 minutes, most of the losses had been regained and within 36 minutes and the event was over. Whatever hit the economy that day had nothing to do with the true state of America’s finances.

An investigation into the Flash Crash focused on the algorithms used by high-frequency traders, companies that rapidly buy and sell stocks as their computer programs spot small price differences across the market. Five years later, police arrested Navinder Singh Sarao, a small trader who was believed to have made more than $40 million during the crash. Trading from his small house in London, he was alleged to have used a computer program to rapidly place sell orders to drive down prices, cancel the orders before the trades went through, then buy the stocks at the lower rate. He wasn’t the only one to make money that day, but his actions were enough to help move the market.


Sizing up Bitcoin is a tall order. Even as the price of one bitcoin soared above $10,000, a debate raged over what, exactly, Bitcoin is: A digital store of value, a revolutionary payment platform, or the promise of a completely new, blockchain-based financial system.

The truth is that Bitcoin is all of those things, but whether it’ll succeed as all three — or any of them — remains to be seen.

Bitcoin’s price increased tenfold in 2017 and moved into the media mainstream. But for all the headlines and Bitcoin billionaires, the underlying technology mostly stood still. A significant (and highly controversial) upgrade of its software fell through. And the earlier, minor upgrade still isn’t widely used yet.

The most important problem these upgrades were supposed to fix bitcoin’s biggest problem—that it’s escalating popularity had exposed an underlying issue with Bitcoin’s distributed database. The issue limited just how much Bitcoin could process at any one time, making the network congested and transactions expensive (not to mention power-hungry).

Put simply, while Bitcoin has exploded in value and popularity, the base technology has remained stagnant. And that casts a shadow on its future — right when competition among cryptocurrencies is on fire.

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