Alena Vranova, the head of strategy at Casa Inc., a New York-based startup that helps consumers securely store cryptocurrencies, recently shared her views and insights with CryptoGlobe.
Vranova, the founder and former CEO of SatoshiLabs, a company that developed TREZOR, the original and leading bitcoin hardware wallet, confirmed that developers throughout the world are “working like crazy” to further develop and improve the Lightning Network (LN) protocol, which is a layer-two crypto payment solution that enables faster and more cost-effective transactions.
“If You Play With Lightning Network, You Are Reckless”
Vranova acknowledged that the LN protocol and its various implementations were in their early stages of development. She remarked: “It’s just about having a little patience and recognizing that right now, if you play with [the] Lightning Network, you are reckless.”
As crypto enthusiasts know, “reckless” is a commonly-used term or word used to describe a select group of loyal crypto users who are willing to take chances as they use the experimental software to conduct bitcoin payments on the LN. Because LN-enabled software may still contain some glitches, it’s possible that payments routed through the second-layer network may not be successful.
Explaining the current state of LN and other crypto-related technology, Alena Vranova said:
You need to understand, it is very early. Consider it the alpha stage of something that you’re playing with. So all these few thousands of people that are running Lightning Network are very, very early adopters and these people usually are willing to take the risk and they should know about the risk in the first place. We, at Casa, are trying to make it very obvious to the people who purchase the Casa Lightning Node to know that you are playing with something that is still in its experimental stages.
Casa’s New Sovereignty-As-A-Service
When asked to comment on Casa’s Sovereignty-as-a-Service (SaaS) solution, a privacy-preserving and security-focused set of products to help users store their virtual assets,
Alena Vranova remarked:
“We announced Sovereignty-as-a-Service as part of our strategy to provide individual sovereignty. We offer this service because, at Casa, we believe that we are about to see huge changes in our society and it’s about time we all have more power [and control] over our financial assets, over our money … and also [more control] over other digital assets that are important such as our personal data for example.”
“We see a lot of movement against these traditional advertising companies such as Facebook and Google. What they call a free service is not really free because they own you as a person. They own you as [having full access] to your own personal profile. They’re basically monetizing every [one] of your moves, every one of your likes and also [taking advantage] of your friendship connections.”
Digital Asset Investors Need A Help Service
Alena Vranova also noted that the management at Casa is: “looking into [a] future where [we can secure] not just [people’s] money such as bitcoin. We also [want to be able to] store not just private keys but other important assets. And, so we thought … first there’s this space for a bitcoiner to operate … in terms of security. With our solutions, you completely own your private keys. So that means you have some hardware wallet or you go to a bitcoin bank where you hand out everything that’s yours to a third party which [has proven to be] a bad idea.”
Alena Vranova further explained:
What is lacking or what is missing is a help service in the [crypto] space that does not not try to keep or hold your assets. But, [instead] would be there to help you become a completely sovereign individual and that’s what we embodied in our Sovereignty-as-a -service strategy. [This is a solution] where we helped our customers set up a multi-signature wallet … and we helped them use hardware wallets in a much simpler fashion than what they were used to. [So our services] give users someone to reach out to if they need [any help].
Explaining How Multi-Sig Wallets Work
Going on to elaborate on how multi-sig wallets work, she said that "if users lose a wallet or devices in their multi-sig setup and they run out of their own sovereign options for recovery,” such as their own keys, then “there is Casa who holds one of the five keys and [we] can use that [extra] key to help you make those recovery transactions.”
Alena Vranova also explained how investors may obtain well-researched information to their questions:
We provide service also in terms of client advisory. We have very skilled client advisors that are 24/7 available for our diamond customers. This is something that is greatly appreciated … because the service also includes being able to “ask some questions that people may have and they don’t have time to do the research online.
“Here To Hold Your Hands, But Never Your Keys”
She continued, saying that "[users] want to have the feeling that they can call someone if somehing goes wrong … so that’s what Casa provides. One of our taglines that I like is: ‘We’re here to hold your hand, but never your keys’.”
Commenting on the tradeoffs users might have to make when selecting the appropriate storage solution for their cryptoassets, AV said:
“There are always certain tradeoffs that you have to make. You have to consider what level of security you need. And, this is not a question to be answered with one answer because you have different needs for the different types of the money. And, there are different designations of money that you have. For example, you have some pocket money. When it is fiat money, it is something like [spendable] money that you have in your pocket. And [then] u have some money there that you can afford to lose. And, [based on the amount of funds you’ve stored, you can adjust] the level of security. [Let’s say you have] money that you [carry around] and then you lose it, you go like well… you are not going break down and cry because you know that the majority of your savings are in a very secure place or should be.”
Not A Simple Answer To All Security Questions
You need to realize there’s not a simple answer to all security questions and there is no single solution so even if u have a hardware wallet, it still doesn’t make you absolutely safe. It makes you almost safe” but not a 100% safe. So then you have this hardware wallet and you have a recovery seed. These 24 words on a piece of paper that you have to figure out how to protect and how to keep safe.
Recalling when she used to work at her previous jobs, she remarked:
“You know [back] when I was working at TREZOR with my team at Satoshi Labs (between 2013 and 2017), I think we’ve [come a long way] from the non-existing security for an individual to Bitcoin. Now, with some of the latest crypto storage solutions, people with no technical expertise can actually manage [their digital assets] in a very secure way. But on the way there, (at Casa) we introduced these great solutions. So, we have paper backups. [While] this [may be a] great solution, [it] turns out to be a problem for a lot of users.”
People Still Ask Very Basic Security Questions
Going on to reveal the basic questions people ask regarding how to securely store their private SEED associated with their crypto wallet, she noted that people "ask questions where where to put a paper? Should I make copies? What if my house burns down= All these questions are quite common because the concept and technology is still very new.”
Vranova also pointed out:
Your entire world now just depends on 24 words. Imagine you would like to have a better security for yourself by creating/using a multi-sig wallet. A multi-sig wallet is beautiful because it allows you to geographically distribute your keys and that means even if someone steals one of the keys, you are still fine. That’s because you have other backups, or if one of the keys malfunctions, that’s fine because you have other keys.
Distributing Keys Between Family Members To Maximize Security
While comparing the security methods used by traditional banks and crypto storage solutions, she mentioned that:
“You can also distribute keys among your family or [other] people or companies that you trust. You can do this without giving away complete power, or in other words, without giving someone else the power to move your funds without your will. It is a very amazing concept when you compare it with traditional banking. When you have a pile of cash and you want to distribute it into two or three different piles. And, into three different locations, you don’t make any part of the pile safer. People can still come and steal one-third of the pile and you’ve lost that money. But with multi-sig and bitcoin, the beauty lies in the fact that even compromising or losing some of the keys will not put any of your funds in danger.”
Explaining how Casa’s different products help users store their crypto, Vranova said:
“Now when you want to set up the multi-sig for yourself, for example, the 3-of-5 product that we have. You have 5 different keys and 5 different wallets. You also have 5 different recovery SEEDs, which comes to a total of 10 items that you eventually need to protect. And, that’s almost impossible for an average person. So what we came up with at Casa is a SEEDless setup where our customers basically use different hardware wallets.”
The Casa Keymaster
“These wallets connect to the Casa keymaster, but they do not store any recovery SEEDs because they don’t need them. We thought this is a better way where you choose your favorite hardware wallet and have them kept in different locations. Maybe give one to your wife or to your lawyer and be better physically protected even if someone holds you at gunpoint. Or, there have been some difficult situations such as violent physical attacks on bitcoiners in the past 2 years.”
Elaborating on how the Casa keymaster’s recovery process works, she noted:
"You can make sure that if you work in a team that you can better protect the funds and without the hassle of keeping or holding onto the recovery SEED. The way we go about recovery when you lose one of the devices in the case of having the Casa keymaster. The way we go about it is, we basically use the property of the multi-sig to ship the money (crypto funds) to a new multi-sig setup with a new hardware wallet.”
So, basically you come to Casa keymaster, you mark one of the keys as lost or compromised and in less than a minute or two you can replace it with a new hardware wallet. In the case of our platinum and diamond customers, they basically get a new hardware wallet device overnight which makes everything super easy. It’s a very different process from going and getting a new hardware wallet yourself, waiting for it, finding the recovery seed, and going through the recovery process, which is a lengthy and onerous process.
Future Interviews With Alena Vranova
During our interview with Alena, she was eager to discuss the role of politics and nation states as it relates to the growth and adoption of cryptocurrencies. In future posts on CryptoGlobe, we look forward to sharing updates with readers regarding Alena’s views about diplomacy, important social issues, and the impact that cryptographic assets will have on the future world economy.