CHICAGO, Nov. 10, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- Physical theft of a digital currency like Bitcoin is hard to imagine, but it's a real possibility, as proven by the results of a recent test. Business strategy and recruitment specialist Tal Newhart has been involved with the world's leading cryptocurrency since 2011. Recently, his team conducted a small experiment to gauge the vulnerability of Bitcoin – and the results are astounding.
"A recruiting client, the CEO of a financial services company, had previously had some personal Bitcoins stolen when he left his account details in plain view in the back seat of his Mercedes when he had it valet parked. We devised this experiment to see if this was a one in a million event," explains Newhart.
Newhart's team created two T-shirts, each printed with a large QR code. The front of the first shirt featured the words, "Bitcoin Research. Please Donate! Ask Me Why!" Newhart wore this shirt around Chicago and its suburbs for several days, during which time the shirt generated about $65 in donations, not to mention some interesting conversations.
The second T-shirt, printed on the back, represented a different approach. Newhart wanted to see if, given the right data, anyone would steal the money he accumulated from the first part of the experiment. Instead of explanatory text, the shirt included a new QR code and the word "SHA-256," a reference to the standard encryption algorithm used for Bitcoin accounts. Anyone with more than a passing knowledge of cryptocurrency would understand the connection. Scanning the shirt with a phone would provide the user with the normally secret private key to the account – and instant, virtually anonymous, access to all its funds. Newhart wore the shirt during lunch hour in downtown Chicago. In less than five minutes, he received an automated text notification that the Bitcoin account containing $68 had been emptied.
"While the first part of our experiment showed that people can be generous, phase two proved that Bitcoin thieves can be lurking anywhere," adds Newhart. "The moral is to keep your Bitcoin passwords secure, and treat them like cash. Remember that Bitcoin thieves aren't necessarily brilliant Russian nerds with 'Putin Sucks' T-shirts. Some could be in Armani."
About Tal Newhart
Since 1991, my colleagues and I have helped clients overcome various business challenges. These have ranged from hardcore strategies that quickly marginalize your competition to quiet executive search services (mid/senior finance – including cryptocurrency/Bitcoin, Go Team assembly and succession planning in the U.S., EU and Pacific Rim). Everything we do is needle focused on creating sustainable increases in shareholder value, while contractually avoiding asymmetrical risk issues with our clients (including "pay on fail" recruiting contracts). It's a simple code and has worked well for two decades. My book, The Art of Corporate Warfare, expands on my shareholder centric philosophy and techniques.