The notion of Achievable Security

In a recently published podcast series, titled The Story of Ballet, the notion of Achievable Security was discussed in a time when crypto security is growing ever more important. Ballet’s founder and CEO, Bobby Lee, brought up this topic in a manner to educate existing crypto users and newcomers alike about how an ideal crypto security standard should be achieved. The meaning of the term Achievable Security, which Bobby credits to Dr. Adam Back, is essentially denoting that the ideal security standard one should achieve should be based on the level of security competence of one’s self.

Which vehicle in the cover image above will take you to your destination the fastest and safest?

To simply explain, a crypto beginner should not be advised to hold and manage their private keys on a multi-signature scheme implemented through Shamir’s Secret Sharing methodology, with each component distributed geographically, and the only way of accessing their funds is by first gathering up each component, running their own node via Bitcoin Core, and using the command line to build a transaction. This is unideal for many people.

Instead, a solution that is easier with a relatively strong sense of security can also be ideal. This is where the Ballet wallet comes into play. The Ballet wallet was designed to marry both diametrically opposing concepts of simplicity and security together.

“So what we’ve done with Ballet is to lower the common denominator and make it very simple so that you can’t screw it up and yet give you decent security because it’s fundamentally an offline cold storage wallet. So our product, Ballet, has a very decent and high level of achievable security.” – Bobby Lee

An example that Bobby has given, in Episode 5 of the podcast series, is the analogy of a fighter jet and a bicycle. Let’s say if you are in a scenario where you need to get somewhere fast and quick. It would be unrealistic to place the average person in a cockpit of an F-18 to get from point A to point B. The average person would not know how to operate the plane: what buttons to push, what levers to pull, what meters to read, what equipment to wear, and etc. The average person would ultimately not even be able to move a yard if they were placed in the cockpit of an F-18.

Will the fighter jet or bicycle get you to your destination the most efficiently? (Image Source:

Rather, that same person would be able to travel a distance farther if they used a bicycle instead of an F-18 fighter jet. To them, a bicycle is more achievable to their goal and skillsets instead of an F-18 fighter jet. Although an F-18 fighter jet can undoubtedly travel faster than a bicycle, the complexity and level of knowledge one would need is not attainable to the majority of people. 

The analogy should be clear: There will always be a more sophisticated and technologically higher avenue to attain something but if you do not have the prerequisite knowledge to match it, then you’re actually defeating the whole purpose of it. If you don’t know how to ride a sport bike, then you’re better off with a car. If you don’t know how to use a gun, you’re better off using a different self-defense mechanism. If you don’t have access to an underground bunker, you’re better off using a Ballet wallet to store your crypto. 

“If you have a device that is so called super safe with all the complex interactions and passwords and safety checks and etc, but if a common user cannot adequately use all that properly without getting themselves into making mistakes than the actual achievable security is very, very low.” – Bobby Lee

By overreaching your ability, you are actually decreasing your marginal benefit while increasing your marginal cost. Opting for the more realistic solution based on your ability would greatly outperform an unrealistic solution that requires abilities you don’t possess. 

Andreas Antonopolous also puts up the same understanding in one of his videos explaining that “different groups of people will have different risk models with different tolerance for technical complexity. If what you’re trying to do with security is more technically complex than your level of skill, you introduce a very serious risk that you lose your crypto. There is no gold standard of security that applies for everyone.”

You can hear more of that podcast mentioned above here to learn more about security, safety, and trust with Ballet and crypto wallets, in general.