On my last evening at the World Economic Forum in Switzerland a week ago, I encountered a man who picks locks for a living--digital locks, that is. I had overheard the Swedish safe-cracker discussing his work and its relation to cryptocurrency while dining in the barroom of the Hotel Chesa Grischuna in Klosters. (You don’t need FaceTime to eavesdrop!) I invited him to share a beer later that evening.
Robert Rhodin, CEO and founder of the blockchain security startup KeychainX, helps people reclaim lost cryptocurrency wealth. The longhaired man regaled me with stories about how he has helped people recover Bitcoins. (Perhaps you might recall that roughly 4 million Bitcoins have been lost forever.) He got into the business when a friend’s Ledger wallet, a device that stores people’s private keys, started malfunctioning. Rhodin fiddled with the hardware--the circuitry behind a bum button--until he regained access, he said. On another occasion, Rhodin’s brute-forcing programs helped an early investor unravel a forgotten password that had secured his digitial vault: “rebeccaissexy.” (“Rebecca,” whose name I changed, was the investor’s girlfriend.)