As many of you may have read, last month we reported on February’s BitPanel.
The BitPanel is a monthly panel-format meetup in San Mateo, CA that brings together all of the biggest influencers in Bitcoin for the purpose of sparking a meaningful discussion about currently relevant issues and topics within the Bitcoin realm. The event is co-organized by ZapChain and Draper University , and is hosted by Daniel Cawrey (ZapChain COO, contributing editor at CoinDesk).
The topic for this month’s BitPanel was Bitcoin security , which is perhaps one of the biggest challenges that the mainstream adoption of Bitcoin is currently facing. It made for quite an interesting discussion considering the tantamount importance and responsibility involved with having one’s Bitcoin properly secured.
Fabio Federici (Coinalytics) – Product Demo
The event kicked off with a product demo from Fabio Federici , the CEO of Coinalytics. Coinalytics is a robust Blockchain analysis platform that provides real-time data from the Bitcoin Blockchain, finding different patterns and identifying relevant events in a way that everybody can understand. Fabio walked the audience through a demonstration of Coinalytics, displaying a visual representation of the 19,000 Bitcoin theft that BitStamp unfortunately experienced recently. Coinalytics graduated from 500 Startups’ batch 009.
The Security Panel
Brennen Byrne (Clef), Jassim Latif (BitGo), Christian Hansen (CrowdCurity), Eric Martindale (BitPay), Daniel Cawrey (Moderator)
The panel itself featured Brennen Byrne (CEO of Clef, a private/public key 2-factor app), Jassim Latif(Business Development at BitGo, an insured multi-signature wallet), Christian Hansen (Co-Founder/CTO of CrowdCurity, which offers a crowd-sourced solution to web security), and Eric Martindale (Developer at BitPay, which allows merchants to accept Bitcoin). Moderated by Daniel Cawrey, the group examined the current state of security in Bitcoin with a heavy focus on the centralization vs. decentralization debate. The discussion was incredibly captivating, and several pressing issues were brought front-and-center.
Daniel started the segment with the question of “What is the biggest security issue that Bitcoin faces at the moment?”
Eric noted that the responsibility of each individual managing their own private keys has proven to be rather cumbersome for new users, with Christian explaining that the infrastructure of Bitcoin needs to mature more, and safe platforms that provide secure access to Bitcoin need to be more widely adopted. Jassim observed that only 8% of Bitcoin transactions are multi-signature, showing a lack of growth in the interest and usage of multi-sig by average consumers. Brennen explained that it is currently required for users to have a working understanding of cryptography in order to get by with using Bitcoin, which is holding back the billions of people out there that are interested in Bitcoin, but don’t understand the nuances of the technology. He proposed that businesses should do more of the work for the consumer as a solution to this.
Daniel’s second question was about decentralization, and the benefits and drawbacks of both centralized and decentralized services in Bitcoin.
Eric said that “decentralization doesn’t perfectly apply to every problem, single points of failure are not acceptable.” Christian seconded this statement, while Jassim explained the urgency of implementing things like spending limits and IP whitelists, stating “these things take time. Security’s not gonna wait for that.” Brendon said that “it’s hard to imagine a world without any centralized systems.”
Daniel’s final question was asked with the various Boost companies that attended the panel in mind. The question was “What should startups in the Bitcoin space pay attention to right now?”
Eric answered with the simple but very useful advice of maintaining focus. Christian, an alumnus of Boost’s Tribe 3, stated that having airtight security practices across the board, both within the office and within the architecture a business, was key. “The best security is human awareness security.”
Jassim elaborated on the importance of having top-notch contingency plans in place, as well as hiring trusted employees. Brennen said that “you don’t have to explain everything”, meaning that the user shouldn’t need to know the ins and outs of the protocol in order to use your service.
Every panelist seemed to agree that the security of Bitcoin is not entirely up to par at the moment for the average user. It’s a good things that each of them are developing and contributing to Bitcoin’s security by building services that offer safeguards and protection to users.
Next month’s BitPanel addresses the topic of developing countries, and will take place on April 8 at Draper Hero City. Make sure to check it out, and remember to check out BitQuick as well so that you can buy bitcoininstantly!