Secret bunker in Swiss mountains where millionaires hide their bitcoins from hackers
Photos of a secret vault that belongs to a bitcoin company Xapo leaked to the web. Former government bunker from the Cold War times stores private cryptographic keys to bitcoin wealth worth millions of dollars. Journalists from Quartz took a trip to the secret vault.
Xapo stores its customers’ cryptocurrency in a bunker built in 1947, east of Lake Lucerne. Xapo founder and businessman Wences Casares started rebuilding the bunker in 2014. He raised about $20 million in venture investments to the project. Born in Argentina, Casares himself experienced savings loss more than once, his family repeatedly lost money because of economic instability in the country. Casares was one of the first entrepreneurs interested in bitcoin; he realized that sooner or later cryptocurrency owners will need to safely store their wealth.
Today, Cazares’s company owns one of the safest cryptocurrency vaults on the planet. Its exact location is kept secret, and even depositors are not allowed to visit it, except for the wealthiest ones.
Obviously, bitcoins are not literally stored in the Xapo vault, it contains private keys with multisignature function and these keys give access to cryptocurrency wallets. Criminals getting to them basically means robbery, so owners have to put them in a safe place.
Xapo bunker has a data center with an area of about 1000 square meters. Entrance is granted only by biometric passes, after photographing and fingerprinting. Before entering the vault, visitor goes through the "human-receiver", a gateway made of bulletproof glass. Only after the outer door is closed, the inner door opens. Same gateway is waiting for the visitor at the data center entrance. Behind it is a Cold storage of keys.
Cold storage is the heart of Xapo bunker and its most protected part. Inside it are computers that have never been connected to the Internet. Built around them is a Faraday cage made from steel plates that block wireless signals. After another millionaire client makes a deal with the company, private keys are put in these computers. Before the deal is approved, two more signatures must be put in two other Xapo vaults located on other continents.
According to Quartz journalists, there is some irony in the fact that bitcoins, currency of the future, designed to save us from dealers like banks, have to be stored using classic banking techniques. But keep in mind that if someone takes possession of your multisignature key, you will never be able to get your cryptocurrency back. This is why unprecedented measures developed by the best security professionals and tested in the largest banks in the world are being used for its storage.