Ever since the creation of Bitcoin, hackers have found it hard to resist trying their luck in stealing money from unsuspecting users.
As a result, these malicious folks created ransomware programs like CryptoLocker and Bitcryptor that would encrypt files on victims’ computers, leaving them helpless unless they paid a large fee.
With Bitcoin maintaining a strong position close to its all-time high, many people are starting to take notice of its value. This naturally gives rise to more hackers to try stealing Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies from users’ wallets.
If you want to avoid becoming the victim of these types of ransomware and hacks, then follow these simple rules.
1) Use Two-Factor Authentication
Two-Factor Authentication adds an extra layer of security to your account. This protocol requires you to input another code in addition to your password whenever you log in or make a transaction.
These codes can be texted as an SMS, sent via applications like Google Authenticator.
In crypto exchange platforms, there’s another layer of protection that you can set up to safeguard your account during sign-up. This protection includes email, phone number, and Google Authenticator codes.
2) Create Strong Passwords
Do you use any of these common passwords? Do you reuse passwords across each website you go to?
If the answer to these questions is yes, then chances are you’re an easy target for hackers looking to take advantage of your lack of security.
To avoid making this mistake, create passwords that are at least 10 characters long and never use one password for multiple accounts. Aim to include at least one upper-case letter, special characters like @#$%^&*, and numbers in your password.
You should also never disclose your passwords to anyone. Use a password-protection service to secure your passwords in a password-protected vault instead. You may access your passwords anytime you want while still maintaining a level of security by utilizing a password that’s complex enough for hackers to never be able to decrypt on a whim.
3) Keep Your Computer Safe
Just like you would never leave your wallet unattended, make sure to protect your computer in public places or in environments where it may be at risk.
For instance, avoid logging into your cryptocurrency exchange accounts in public spaces with open Wi-Fi connections. Public networks in airports, malls, and high-traffic locations are often laden with hackers looking to intercept your information.
Additionally, make sure you only download applications on trusted sites like Google Play and Apple’s App Store.
Hackers often create malware that would log keystrokes or reveal passwords for unsuspecting victims who think they’re downloading something harmless on their browsers.
If a virus or malware does manage to find its way on your device, it’s best to have antivirus software installed. Make sure you regularly update and run virus scans on your computer before doing anything important so you won’t encounter any surprises.
4) Backup Your Cryptocurrency Wallet
It’s not the end of the world for your cryptocurrency if you lose your phone or digital storage. That is if you’re prepared.
As a precautionary move, make sure that you always backup your hardware wallet or your software wallet where you access your cryptocurrency exchange accounts.
You can do so by taking down the seed phrase that you’re given upon signing up for the wallet for the first time. The seed phrase is a secret code that you can use to restore your wallet account.
However, it can only be shown to you once – so be sure to keep the code somewhere secure where it won’t follow the same fate should your phone get lost or destroyed.
5) Double-Check Before Clicking Links
If you’ve been around the Internet long enough, you’re probably no stranger to phishing scams. They are everywhere. That is why, before going to a website you’re not familiar with, double-check the URL.
Hackers often create fake websites looking to steal information from unsuspecting victims. This way, they can mislead the public into thinking that a website is a legitimate one by simply creating a similar domain with a slight variation in the URL.
That’s why it’s important to always stay alert. When you purchase bitcoin from an exchange, make sure it’s spelled correctly in the URL. Oftentimes, a few words may be changed in the URL to create an entirely different one, deceiving users who aren’t careful enough to check.
Another rule of thumb is to be wary of any unknown people privately messaging you to visit random links. If they have no prior relations with you, and if you’re on an anonymous platform, more often than not, they’re trying to scam you. Block and move on.
6) Choose Cold Storage
Keeping your Bitcoin, Ethereum, and other cryptocurrencies on exchanges leaves it vulnerable to cyber-attacks. While it may seem improbable for widely-used exchange platforms to experience a security breach, it has happened before.
One of the top cryptocurrency exchange platforms, Liquid, had $90 million worth of cryptocurrency stolen from them by malicious attackers in 2019.
One of crypto’s most prominent use cases is its decentralized nature. As such, instead of keeping your cryptocurrency in central exchanges, you may want to consider transferring it into a personal cold storage wallet instead.
This way, you can keep your cryptocurrency away from the prying eyes of hackers, increasing the protection of your investment. You also won’t ever run the risk of your cryptocurrency getting lost from cyberattacks or ransomware once stored in these wallets.
7) Double Check The Address Before Sending Funds
There are several strategies that hackers can utilize to steal your money. For example, a type of malware may be installed that changes an actual wallet address you copied into a hacker’s address. Some of us often don’t double-check the address once it’s pasted before sending, so this can be disastrous if you’re not careful enough.
If you are sending cryptocurrency to someone—whether it’s a friend or an exchange platform— double-check the address being sent to before confirming that your funds will be transferred. This way, you can avoid losing your money due to malware in your system.
If you detect one, consider reformatting your machine into a new state to clear the virus.