What is Decentralized Recovery?

Invented by Dr. Leemon Baird, Decentralized Recovery (DeRec) is a novel method that safeguards a user’s secrets in a way that they can be recovered in case the user loses the original copy of the secrets. A DeRec application on a user’s device creates an encrypted vault of their secrets, creates cryptographic fragments of the encryption keys, and distributes those… fragments to their helpers. Helpers are trusted individuals or organizations who store these fragments on their devices securely. The DeRec app contacts all the helpers periodically (typically, once a day) to make sure that the helpers still have the fragments safely stored. If the user loses their secrets, say because they lost the device on which their secrets were stored, they only need to contact half of their original helpers and retrieve the previously stored fragments from them. Upon receiving these fragments, they are cryptographically combined to reconstruct the original encryption keys to the user’s vault, thereby restoring all secrets that were lost. To ensure the safety of a user’s fragments with their helpers, the DeRec app periodically contacts the helpers to verify their continued storage. The DeRec protocol and application are designed such that a layperson can use this application safely without being crypto-savvy or a technical expert.