Cryptocurrencies: How to Ensure Personal Security
Cryptocurrencies on their own depend on a technology called blockchain which is hard to breach. In fact, there is no recorded case of a successful hack on the distributed blockchain itself. That said, there are plenty of cases where individuals and entire crypto trading platforms got hacked and lost a lot of cash to criminals.
For instance, there is the much-publicized case of Michael Terpin, a crypto investor who lost over $24 million in crypto to a sim swap hack back in 2018. For him, the hackers only had to use the “forgot password feature” on his Google device to take control of his crypto account and steal all his private keys.
Forbes and other news outlets report that over $4billion worth of crypto was stolen from individuals and companies in 2019, a big jump from the $1.7 billion stolen the previous year.
That said, most of the so-called “crypto heists” did not target the blockchain itself as it would be ridiculous and probably self-defeating for the thieves. All the reported attacks used conventional methods to target user devices such as sim swaps, MIM attacks, phishing, malware, and session attacks on public WIFI as we shall now discuss.
Current Security Risks You Should Know About
Frauds and scams
It’s very common to be targeted by an online fraudster or scammer trying to lure you into doing their bidding and sending them your details or money. These kinds of attacks come in the form of social engineering, scams such as COVID-19 related crypto scams, and fraudulent display ads on social media and across the web.
You don’t even have to be a bitcoin investor or own any cryptocurrency to fall victim to crypto scams and frauds. A big percentage of victims out there get duped into signing up for fake crypto wallets and investment platforms. It’s smooth sailing for scammers and fraudsters as a majority of people don’t understand how cryptocurrency works or how to operate a wallet.
This is, perhaps, one of the most preferred attack methods today. Email phishing has made a strong comeback thanks to the growth of social media and social sharing. It’s now much easier for criminals to get accurate information about their phishing victims before they launch their emails.
There is an increase in the number of phishing emails asking people to send private keys to unknown addresses or share critical login information. Email phishing is hard to crack and proving more successful for less talented hackers or newbies.
Man-in-the-middle (MIM) attacks
It’s hard to believe but this seemingly outdated technique is still in use today and quite common in crypto hacks. Thanks to the increase in the number of people using public WIFI hotspots and unsecured IoT devices, it’s now possible for you to lose all your money by a simple MIM attack. Here, a criminal sitting on your WIFI network will sniff and decode your network data and gain access to your devices or online wallets.
Crypto security essentials
Browse securely, communicate securely
Let’s start by addressing the basics. Accessing online wallets and crypto platforms without a VPN app is a bad idea in the current environment. A VPN is your first line of defense against all kinds of attacks including MIM attacks, scams, OSINT investigations and whatnot. At least you’ll know that all your data is passed through a private network away from all the hackers lurking out there.
Use multi-signature crypto wallets
They may come at a slightly premium price but multisig wallets will keep your crypto safer than conventional wallets. A multi-signature crypto address requires more than one key to authorize any transaction. This means a hacker with one of your private keys will not be able to steal your crypto.
If you are serious about security or own a lot of virtual currencies in crypto, you might want to consider a secure email service such as ProtonMail, Posteo, Mailfence or SCRYPTmail. These email services provide enhanced protection against phishing and brute force attacks.
All in all, owning and trading crypto requires you to have an elevated concern on your security and how you use the internet and the devices on your network. A simple error in judgment or complacency will see you lose a lot of money to cybercriminals.
By Amy Cavendish | firstname.lastname@example.org