recovether - Project submission for HackZurich 2017

recovether is a new cross platform ethereum wallet that interacts with a secure public smart contract to solve the problem of private key loss, by giving the user the ability to redeem his funds with a username-password combination, thereby greatly increasing accesibility to ethereum for the average person.

Installation OS X

  1. git clone
  2. brew update
  3. brew install geth
  4. brew install node
  5. brew install npm


  1. cd recovether.
  2. npm install


  1. Start geth
  2. cd PROJ_DIR
  3. node index.js?

Protocol Explained

This will brieffly explain the used protocol and what makes it secure. Out of time reasons, a more academic explanation has not taken place yet. However the scheme was discussed with a Cryptography / Blockchain researcher. When signing up to the app the user enters his username and password. Once the user deposits funds into the wallet they are split in 10% normal ETH (retained for gas prices) and 90% the secure ether token. The secure ether is ERC20 like, and with some extra poperties. Once creation of the tokens is completed the provided password is hashed and then stored in the blockchain as a hash of a 256 bit salt and itself. The entire data on the chain is then:

pubkey | n amount of secure ether | hash(hash(PW) + salt) | salt | hash(username)

In normal everyday usage the user can arbitrarily move around secure ether to other secure ether possessors and move it back again to ether with his private key.

In case the user loses his private key though, he can claim back his lost coins with the following scheme. He first logs back in to the wallet with his passphrase. Once that is done he creates a new keypair and funds it with about 10% of the amount he wants to rescue. Once he has done that the wallet will ask to change his password. During this process it also generates a new key pair. This is the key pair the rescued funds will be sent to.

He then generates a primary transaction to prove that he has a secret s. In fact that secret is his password. He does this by by pushing a request to the secure ether smart contract with:

hash(hash(PW) + salt + newpubkey) + hash(username)

The hash(username) is revealed to link this transaction to the data in the lost key's contract. The user leaves this transaction to mature for some time and then proceeds with the actual redeem transaction. In this he supplies what has been hashed previously as the secret. Meaning he pushes on the stack:

hash(PW) + salt + newpubkey + hash(username)

This proves he is the owner of the correct password and is allowed to move the stuck coins back to a private key in his possession. If this transaction is successful the 10% of your coins you needed to risk previously is also spent to his new address minus the used Gas. However there is a one month timelock on this transaction. This is for the following reason:

Should an adversary be able to find the inverse of the published hash (your password) and try to spend your coins, you have a one month time window to quickly come online and make a small proof, that you are still in possession of your private keys. If you manage to do this the 10% of your funds the attacker risked is directly spent to you. This makes it uneconomic for the adversary to just try attacking random nodes in the network using the secure ether ERC 20.

Architecture Explained

The app uses the following architecture: The user interface is built on electron (located in folder of the same name - how surprising), the interface between ethereum and electron is written with the java script ethereum library. The core of the code is a solidity contract (in SmartContracts) that powers the secure ether ERC20. The solidity contract is compiled and deployed using truffle and is run on a local geth client. The same geth client is also being used for the electron app to communicate with the electron app. Due to complications with versioning a web server is being used between electron and the javascript talking to geth. Hopefully this can be removed in the future.

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