Hackers love an easy target: Here's how to make yourself a much tougher proposition for the bad guys.
Cryptocurrencies and NFTs are no longer niche products limited to a few techies. But along with mainstream adoption comes risk. In this post on how to protect your crypto, we’ll look at a few real-world examples of how to make it harder for hackers to steal from you.
Crypto has plenty of critics, but its ascendancy as a key asset class cannot be denied. In 2021 the total value of the crypto industry topped $3,000,000,000,000 — three TRILLION dollars.
The American bandit Willie Sutton was once asked why he robbed banks. His answer was simple: “Because that’s where the money is!”
And like banks, crypto has become a target for scammers, hackers and online thieves who attempt to access and syphon investments from the people who hold them.
While recovery might be difficult for the unfortunate victims of these cyber-villains, prevention and protection involves some commonsense and simple precautions, and in this article we’ll share with you some quick and easy tips that do a lot to boost your wallet security and help protect your hard-earned crypto and NFT investments.
1. Use strong passwords and use different passwords for wallets and trading accounts
While this sounds pretty simple, a lot of people seem to still underestimate the power of passwords… and even use the same password in almost all of their accounts. According to a report by Security Magazine, 53% of online users use the same password for all of their online accounts.
This poses a huge vulnerability threat as hackers only need to guess or crack one password in order to gain access to all of your online assets. Remembering passwords is tricky, especially complicated passwords, but there are tools that help you automate them. Offline software such as KeePass help you generate and even remember strong passwords for various online accounts, and since it’s hardware and not stored in any online database, it provides a healthy degree of security from anyone trying to access your account remotely. If you’re the type to access stuff on the go though, online password services like Keeper, NordPass and LastPass are also available. Some of the features will require an online subscription, but they do make it possible to create passwords that are much, much harder for hackers to break. Regardless of what you pick though, the core idea is that you should use strong, complex and different passwords for all of your accounts to help deter hackers and prevent loss of assets.
2. Be wary of phishing links, e-mails and fake wallets.
Phishing and online scam tactics have been around since the early days of the internet and unfortunately people still fall for them.
These tactics have made their way into the crypto and NFT ecosystem with some of the infamous ones being the fake Ronin wallet incident from late 2021 and the Illuvium discord incident which led to the loss of thousands of dollars worth of assets. The attackers sometimes infiltrate platforms such as group and community chats.
Always double check for any links included in emails, especially when they get tagged or filtered as spam by your email provider. You can also reach out to the development team of these crypto, NFT and play to earn projects to verify authenticity as well as they are mostly very engaged with their community. And remember, no project will ask for your private keys – ever!
And watch out for the URL scam in which bad actors use letters that *look* real but are actually from a foreign-language character set. For instance, you wouldn’t want to click on a link that said binancë.com!
3. Use 2-Factor Authentication whenever it’s available
2-Factor Authentication tools provide an extra layer of security for your accounts and it is advised that you turn them on if available.
This feature is commonly present in trading platforms like Binance, and it will send you prompts by way of unique codes to access your account. These 2-factor authentication tools can also be linked to 3rd party software, or tools not necessarily native to the platform like Google Authenticator.
Aside from 2 factor authentication, be sure to also turn on email alerts to get instant notification if anyone has been trying to access your account.
And be exceptionally careful about using SMS messaging for your 2-fac authentication: SIM swapping has become a common method for criminals to port your phone (and therefore your security measures) over to a duplicate SIM that they hold themselves. With Google Authenticator or Authy, they can’t break in without physically holding your phone in their criminal paws.
4. Invest in a hardware wallet
Cryptocurrency is commonly stored in online wallets like Metamask.
While they are secure, the fact that these wallets are online means that they are connected to the wider internet network and can be attacked.
Of course, you can minimize the chances of those attacks with the use of hardware crypto wallets. These devices move your crypto from online wallets to offline storage, cutting off any potential remote access by online hackers and thieves.
Hardware wallets also come with their own levels of protection and security features and can even be linked with online wallets and trading platforms for faster and easier access. Popular hardware wallet brands include Trezor and Ledger are widely available, and it’s usually best to buy direct from the manufacturer to mitigate potential third-party seller scams.
One more thing: while your crypto is on an exchange, it can also be vulnerable. In the crypto community there is a saying – Not Your Keys, Not Your Coins. It means that if someone else is holding your crypto, you’re not! So if an exchange is hacked, it could be *your* money that is drained. Hardware wallets are generally the safest place for crypto unless you’re actively trading.
5. Create hardware backups
We’ve talked about moving your coins into hardware wallets, but the same thing can also be done with your online credentials.
Even password managers can run into trouble sometimes so backing them up in hardware form is always advised. You can either write them down in private journals or print them out for safekeeping, away from the reach of online snoopers.
Other documents and files such as seed phrases or those random sets of words and phrases that cryptocurrency wallets provide you for backup in case you forgot your passwords can also be backed up in hardware form by printing them out or writing them down. Just be sure to also keep them in safe, and dry areas as to not lose them or damage them while in storage.
Security is a very big deal in cryptocurrency. While some of these tips can sound tedious, they will add additional levels of protection and help prevent the unfortunate loss of your new digital financial assets while waiting for them to reach the moon.
United Gamers writers offer their expert opinions to help readers understand the context of the facts. These opinions do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the publication or its principals.