With the blockchain boom and rise in popularity of cryptocurrency, it’s easy to get caught up in all the potential benefits and ignore the necessity of security. However, if you’re an investor serious about pocketing a profit and protecting their interests, crypto security is something you should never take chances with.
The decentralised nature of cryptos and the anonymity they provide are often cited as benefits, but at the same time, these combined with a lack of regulation means that you’re out of luck should they go missing or end up stolen. It’s pretty much impossible to track them down when they AWOL.
In fact, there’s absolutely nothing to do should you find yourself in this nightmare scenario. Should you forget your access credentials you’ve no customer support team on hand to help talk you through password reset steps. You’ve no complaints department to approach with news of your loss. What’s more, you’ve nothing in the way of a regulatory authority you can look to as a means to identify hackers and retrieve your assets.
It’s a grim prospect, but such is the reality of crypto. Keeping your cryptocurrency safe is of paramount importance and, while it might seem like a tricky task for the crypto novice, there’s several easy measures you can put into place to give yourself some peace of mind when it comes to making sure your cryptocurrency is better protected.
Below you’ll find a breakdown of starting points on how to better protect your crypto assets going forward. This is by no means a complete list, so we advise to bolster your cyber security measures with further reading.
Don’t leave personal details open to public viewing online
In a general sense, people are becoming more adverse to having their personal details online for all and sundry to see. It’s wise to remove these details from public viewing across the board, not just in regards to keeping your crypto safe. But in the context of cryptocurrency and threats to its security, let’s think about how the average hacker can utilise those details you might have forgotten are still live for public consumption.
Opportunistic hackers can use information like your email address, your phone number and other data like your birthday, place of work and abode to make quick work of breaking into your accounts. Don’t leave this trail of breadcrumbs lying around for them and delete as much as you can. If you can’t remove certain email addresses from social channels and other sites, then it’s best advised you create a wholly new and unique one for use with your crypto accounts. At least this way, you’re making the hacker’s work that much more difficult. Likewise, if you’re struggling to remove your phone number from online platforms, consider speaking with your service provider and asking about enhanced security measures.
Ensure your phone isn’t a weak link
Hackers are increasingly utilising phone accounts to worm their way in and gain access to your assets. With minimal effort, fraudsters can gain complete control of a SIM card before choosing to reset passwords for email addresses. Once an email account has been compromised with a password reset, the criminal can then delve into all manner of associated accounts, resetting passwords to gain access left, right and centre. If your crypto assets are associated in any way with your email address, you could be kissing goodbye to them.
Offline wallets are the way to go
Rest assured, it’s incredibly difficult for a hacker to gain access to your cryptocurrency. The successful attacks that there have been however, tend to target exchanges and the individual wallets of a user in order to snatch crypto funds. These destinations don’t in fact share the benefits of crypto protocols and are instead centralised systems, with all their inherent weaknesses. It’s no wonder they’re the Achilles heel that hackers tend to aim for.
Chances are, you’ll have heard about wallets before. If you haven’t, read on.
Although you own any cryptocurrency held in an online exchange, said ownership does not mean you have complete control over these assets. The only way you can be confident you have total control over these crypto assets is if you have them stored in a private wallet. If you do leave your cryptocurrency in an online exchange, you always chance losing your assets should the exchange be attached by hackers and currency stolen.
It’s altogether safer to store your currency in a wallet that falls under your full control. However, there’s additional factors to consider when doing this. Some wallets are inherently safer and more secure than others, for example. It’s worth noting that there are two distinct breeds of wallets for cryptocurrency. One is an online wallet that’s software based, while the other is an offline alternative that’s hardware based.
Generally speaking, offline hardware wallets are the safer option for storing cryptocurrency as anything not connected to the internet is more difficult to target and access. Offline wallets like the Ledger Nano S will store your wallet keys beneath several security levels, giving you more confidence that your cryptocurrency is safe. Online wallets that utilise software do of course have their place. There’s nothing wrong with using them to store a small amount of currency at any one time, providing you with a ready pool of funds with which to make transactions and trade with. However, for total peace of mind, always think offline.
Offline storage on hardware wallets isn’t completely without risk. These wallets can of course be damaged or mislaid, along with cryptocurrency stored on them. However, due to the fact these wallets are never connected to the internet, the odds of you being hacked and finding your cryptocurrency stolen is massively slashed compared to online alternatives.
Two-factor authentication is your best friend
Even if you’ve never heard of it before, two-factor authentication is pretty self-explanatory. Simply put, it’s an authentication approach that requires two methods be completed when logging in to an account online. You’ve likely encountered it before elsewhere where a code has been sent to your smartphone in the form of an SMS or generated by an authenticator, with you then having to input the code into an account in order to successfully log in.
Two-factor authentication (2FA) is useful because it means that even if your account password has been compromised by a hacker, the criminal in question still needs to be able to access the receiving device in order to view the code generated. Without this, they can’t complete their hacking activity.
It’s not the most comprehensive protection against hackers, however. What’s more, some do advise against using it due to the rise in hackers accessing mobile devices by seizing control of SIM cards. Instead, 2FA is best utilised via the use of an app like Google Authenticator, negating the issue with hackers impersonating you and contacting your provider.
Almost all wallets and exchanges carry 2FA as a standard, but in most instances, you’ll need to activate it yourself. This can easily be done by heading to the settings area and enabling two-factor authentication protection.
Keep your crypto credentials to yourself
Nobody likes a boaster. Except of course, the hacker. It’s been known for hackers to glean social media channels and community forums looking for their next prey. If you’re someone who is carelessly conversing about your impressive assets, you may catch the attention of someone you’d rather not. If you’re even halfway engaged with crypto and the community at large, keep as low a profile as you can manage. Certainly, don’t market the fact you’re sitting on a crypto goldmine. You’re not going to be honed in on by predatory hackers if you’re not drawing attention to yourself.
Take passwords seriously
If you’re forever struggling to come up with unique passwords for different accounts, try a password manager to up your game. There’s many services available nowadays that can help you generate incredibly strong and secure passwords for sensitive accounts, while impressive levels of security and encryption make it easy to stay safe and secure with minimal effort.
What’s more, make sure all relevant devices are protected with passwords as a general rule. If you use your smartphone or tablet to access exchanges on a regular basis, make sure you’ve made said devices as bulletproof as possible in the event you misplace them or have them stolen. An errant open window or account that’s still signed in can be seized upon by a hacker with only half a brain.
Crypto security summary
Those brand new to the crypto scene can feel overwhelmed when it comes to staying safe and keeping assets protected. However, with minimal effort, it’s easy to safeguard your precious cryptocurrency. Even taking a few simple steps will drastically improve your chances of staying immune from everyday hacking tactics, while a little more effort will ensure you’re proofed against more sophisticated strategies. There’s no denying hackers are becoming increasingly more cunning in their efforts to part you from your hard-earned cryptocurrency, and putting all of these safeguards into effect will only safeguard you so much. However, it’s a clear step in the right direction. Once you’ve made these first, formative changes, make sure crypto security gets your full attention this point out.