A collection of bitcoin, litecoin and ethereum tokens sit in this arranged photograph in Danbury, U.K.

Former Presidential Bodyguard Has a New Job: Protecting Blockchain

(Bloomberg) -- A man who used to protect U.S. presidents is now guarding something new -- Bitcoin.

George Sax, a former special agent and senior official of the U.S. Secret Service, has joined British cryptocurrency company Blockchain Ltd. as global head of security. Blockchain, named after the software that underpins Bitcoin, manages more than 26 million digital wallets across 140 countries that permit users to buy, sell, and hold digital assets.

Sax was in charge of the Secret Service’s Office of Investigations and also managed security for the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign, the company said. He’s joining Blockchain as anxiety mounts that cryptocurrency exchanges remain vulnerable to cyber attacks. In January, Coincheck Inc. said hackers stole more than $500 million of tokens from the Japanese digital-asset trading company. Last month, a South Korean crypto exchange called Coinrail announced that it was the victim of a “cyber intrusion.”

“We are one of the top targets in the world for security threats by virtue of our place in the crypto ecosystem,” said Peter Smith, Blockchain’s chief executive officer and co-founder. “We have to secure our infrastructure, data centers, and our operations. It’s a big job, and George will help us build a next generation of security.”

Even as Wall Street and regulators weigh whether Bitcoin and its ilk constitute a legitimate asset class, investors say guaranteeing the custody of crypto-assets is their top concern. Blockchain, which was founded in 2011 and has raised $70 million in equity capital, recently unveiled a platform designed for institutional investors.

Antony Jenkins, the former CEO of Barclays Plc, is a director on Blockchain’s board. Arthur Levitt, the onetime chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission and a director at Bloomberg LP, is a board adviser.

“I’m looking forward to applying my experience at the U.S. Secret Service and the U.S. Treasury to the company’s already robust security program and enable millions across the globe access to this new financial system with confidence,” Sax said in a statement.

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.