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Vitalik Buterin: Safe self-custody needs diversified guardians

Vitalik Buterin Safe self-custody needs diversified guardians

Vitalik Buterin, the co-founder of Ethereum, recently made a post to Reddit in which he argued that many “guardians” should be used in conjunction with multisig and social recovery wallets to ensure the security of digital currency held in individual custody.

While Buterin recommends that a person’s guardians remain unaware of each other to “greatly limit the possibility that they conspire” to target the wallet owner’s assets, the guardians should still be able to locate each other in the event of the wallet owner’s death.

Both Multisig and social recovery wallets rely on guardians, who are essentially external sources to recover funds or approve transactions, but their topologies are different. Guardians are typically many external wallets that belong to the same person, but can also be addresses managed by other individuals or organizations.

Buterin thinks “you get to trust other people less, but you’re also concentrating more authority into yourself, which can create a risk if you get hacked, coerced, paralyzed, or die,” therefore it’s vital to decentralize wallet guardians.

“My rule of thumb is that enough guardians should be controlled by other people that if you disappear there are enough other guardians left to recover your funds.”

“If something happens to you, they will still be able to find each other, because there are obvious standard protocols that naturally come to people’s minds in such a situation (eg. contact your family).”

The co-creator of Ethereum also recommended that users “instruct guardians to pose a security question” during the confirmation of an operation, the answer to which would be known only to the user and the guardian.

Ethereum’s co-founder also emphasized the importance of using guardians that can respond rapidly to meet the needs of “degen traders,” or individuals who aren’t making long-term HODL plays.

In the event of a contract vulnerability or imminent liquidation, for example, or if you’re otherwise engaged in degenerate activities with on-chain contracts, you may need to take swift action. Finding guardians who are available on short notice is essential if this is one of your requirements.

Buterin concluded by suggesting yearly tests for all guardians to ensure they “haven’t forgotten or lost their accounts.”

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About MahKa

MahKa loves exploring the decentralized world. She writes about NFTs, the metaverse, Web3 and similar topics.

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