Whether you’re holding a hundred dollars worth of Ethereum or your hot wallet is stuffed to the brim with Bitcoin and altcoins, securing your cryptocurrencies should be at the top of your to-do list.
The threat landscape in 2020 has intensified, and cryptocurrencies and exchanges are a prime target for hackers, who capitalize on the same decentralized and deregulated nature of crypto trading that makes it attractive to investors. In 2019, no less than 12 exchanges were hacked and the trend looks set to continue this year.
Here are seven ways to secure your cryptocurrencies:
1. Use cold storage for significant sums
You wouldn’t walk around campus with 10 grand in your wallet; the smarter way to stash that much cash is in a safe. And it’s the same with cryptocurrencies. Keep a smaller amount of your investment in a hot online wallet so you can continue making trades, but place any significant sums in secure cold wallets.
2. Follow good digital hygiene practices
- Use strong passwords of 12 characters or more.
- Don’t repeat passwords across accounts or exchanges.
- Make sure you log out when you’re finished.
- Choose MultiSig wallets whenever possible.
- Get a password manager to handle your passwords.
- Opt for multi-factor authentication.
3. Never trade on public wifi networks
Open public wifi networks represent a serious security risk. While it might be convenient to use your college’s free Wi-Fi from time to time, if you choose to trade or log in to your exchange or wallet on an unsecured network, you’re gambling with more than your data.
Threat actors can digitally position themselves between your device and your connection point, making it easy for them to intercept any data you send, such as your login details. They may also use open networks as a tool to distribute malware.
4. Get VPN encryption
Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) are recognized as one of the best ways to quickly and easily boost your cybersecurity strategy. Through tunneling and packet encryption, VPNs shield your internet activity, generate a private browsing network and encrypt any data you send. If you must use open Wi-Fi networks, make sure your VPN app is switched on first.
5. Be aware of current crypto scams
How can you be sure that hot tip you saw posted on Twitter is legitimate, or just a legitimate attempt to scam you out of your investments? In short, you can’t always know but it’s best to exercise a healthy degree of caution when it comes to offers that seem too good to be true.
Whether it’s a new ICO posted on social or an urgent last-chance offer landing in your inbox, try and verify the legitimacy of any tips you receive.
6. Keep your winnings to yourself
There’s no doubt that standing on soapbox mid campus and telling your fellow students you have 10 grand in your pocket is inviting trouble. It’s the same online; keep any significant wins to yourself to avoid the attention of hackers and scammers.
7. Double-check the legitimacy of crypto-trading apps
Unfortunately, many fraudulent apps make it past both Apple and Google’s app store checks and on to users’ phones. Double and even triple-check the veracity of any trading app before you download it. Look out for grammatical errors and branding that looks a little off — both indications that an app might be fake.