A behind the scenes take a look at the largest (and quietest) crypto switch on report

Coinbase just lately moved 5% of all BTC, 8% of all ETH and 25% of all LTC in circulation (amongst many different property) in what we imagine is the most important crypto migration on report. Our VP of Safety is publishing the case research under to make clear the precise methods we construct safety into our platform at each stage — in addition to have interaction with the neighborhood round sharing greatest practices for crypto safety.

On the earth of cryptocurrency, safety should be a core worth and prime precedence of any group trying to serve clients over the long-term. At present, we’re sharing what we realized from our latest migration of crypto with the broader ecosystem in an effort to construct belief for your complete business.

At Coinbase, our dedication to safety is expressed in plenty of methods, from shopper safety protections to inside improvement practices to third-party audits and checks. Our most crucial accountability is the safety of the property that our clients entrust to us. The gold commonplace of cryptocurrency asset safety is offline, or “chilly,” asset storage. Coinbase shops 98% or extra of our buyer property in our chilly storage system. Coinbase’s chilly storage has gone via plenty of evolutions via the years because the cryptocurrency area has developed and matured.

Final week we efficiently accomplished an on-blockchain migration of roughly $5 Billion (as valued the week ending Dec. 7, 2018) of cryptocurrency from Era Three to Era 4 of our chilly storage infrastructure. To our information, that is the most important motion of cryptocurrency (actually in USD phrases, probably in absolute phrases) ever undertaken.


Chilly storage can cowl plenty of storage strategies, starting from HSMs to bunkers within the Swiss Alps. Belongings positioned in chilly storage are fully offline and disconnected from any automated system. As with many phrases in a quickly growing business like cryptocurrency, there isn't a clear commonplace for chilly storage.

Coinbase’s commonplace for actually chilly storage is that a number of geographically separated people in the actual world ought to be compelled to carry out bodily actions to allow a transaction after reviewing transaction particulars. If that isn’t true, we don’t assume it’s truly chilly storage.

Coinbase’s chilly storage has been via plenty of iterations during the last six years. The primary model, as we’ve talked about previously, was keys in a security deposit field.

Coinbase chilly storage, circa 2012

Whereas that was nice for again then, as asset values elevated and cryptocurrencies began to diversify, we wanted to construct a system that ensured broad consensus on actions from chilly storage and will flexibly assist many sorts of property. In our latest version, which initially rolled out with Coinbase Custody and now handles all chilly storage at Coinbase, we begin with a safe basis with a extremely managed and audited key technology course of and proceed with a globally distributed key storage and transaction approval system.


This method protects towards key loss, key misuse (together with insider menace and utility degree assaults) and helps world class key governance and audit whereas being foreign money agnostic. Which means we are able to retailer any cryptocurrency utilizing the identical system, with out making compromises within the degree of safety offered to any single cryptocurrency.

The thought of shifting $5 Billion on-blockchain was one we approached with a really excessive diploma of warning. Whereas we imagine within the safety of the blockchain, the variety of shifting elements mixed with our absolute accountability to make sure the safety of funds in our custody meant that we wanted to cowl each attainable state of affairs.

We started planning months earlier than the precise transfer date and concerned virtually each group at Coinbase within the course of. We performed threat assessments, honed monitoring plans and performed check migrations till we have been optimistic that the dwell migration would go off with out a hitch.


One of many dangers we recognized early on within the course of was the potential for our migration to be mistaken for an alternate breach or a big dealer getting ready to promote a major quantity of cryptocurrency. Both approach, we have been apprehensive that the market uncertainty would lead to worth actions. On the opposite aspect of the equation, we have been apprehensive that giving potential attackers an excessive amount of discover would allow them to plan for and execute assaults throughout the migration. As soon as we have been able to conduct the migration, we put out a short blog post to calm fears with out freely giving an excessive amount of details about our plans. This piece helped steer a major quantity of the ensuing dialogue on on-line boards and in commerce blogs (like this one).

After that weblog submit was out, we proceeded to revive our current chilly storage addresses one after the other, ready till the earlier deal with had been swept to the brand new chilly storage earlier than shifting the subsequent deal with. This strategy made the migration take longer (it lasted four working days), however resulted in a lot increased assurance that our clients’ funds have been safe each step of the way in which.

Ultimately, what all this implies is that we’re persevering with to push the tempo of the business in offering safe, auditable, asset-agnostic offline storage for cryptocurrency. Our clients reap the rewards by way of higher safety, extra assurance and sooner asset additions. This new chilly storage system is a core a part of our technique to develop our asset choices whereas by no means compromising on the extent of safety we offer our clients. If that seems like an fascinating set of challenges, we happen to be hiring

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