Protecting Your Crypto from Hackers
Hackers are getting smarter and trickier. So how do you protect your crypto from hackers? We’ll give you some digital security pointers…
4 Digital Security Steps to Secure Your Crypto & Crypto Wallets
As crypto investing and cryptocurrencies become more mainstream, it is vitally important for you to take measures to protect your digital assets from hackers. As crypto becomes more popular, the number and sophistication of hackers also increases. Cybercriminals are becoming more ‘proactive’ in their attempts to steal your crypto, so digital security should be top of mind for any investor. We’ve come up with 6 easy-to-follow steps to help you on your way to becoming a digital security expert against annoying cybercriminals…
Protect Your Seed Phrase
All non-custodial crypto currency wallets have a string of twelve (12) to twenty-four (24) words. This is called a ‘seed phrase‘. This is literally your only key to access your crypto wallet, so securing it should be your top priority in digital security against cybercriminals.
From MetaMask to Coinbase Wallet and from Genesis to even your hardware wallets (like Ledger or Trezor), your seed phrase is the single most important piece of information you need to protect. But why?
Anyone who has access to your crypto wallet seed phrase has access to all of your assets held in that wallet! Because of this, cybercriminals prey on getting access to your seed phrase. If a cyber criminal is able to trick you in sending or accessing your seed phrase, then they can withdraw and steal all of your crypto assets. This is why your seed phrase needs to be secured and is most important in your digital security strategy.
But that’s not it! If you ever lose or delete your crypto wallet (both desktop and/or mobile), you can restore your wallet using your seed phrase. However, if you lose your seed phrase, then you won’t have access to your wallet, and therefore, you will also lose your crypto.
On the other hand, many users around the world opt for a custodial crypto wallet. A custodial wallet is one whereby it is ‘hosted‘ by a third party custodian whereby they control and have your seed phrase. This is especially popular amongst beginner crypto investors as it is more streamlined and requires less work and knowledge around cryptocurrencies.
For optimal digital security against cyber thefts, we recommend that you write down each seed phrase for each crypto wallet on 3 Post-It Notes. Place them in different locations, preferable one at home, one in a vault or safety deposit box and another in a location that you only have access to. This will also give you security peace of mind.
Use a Password Generator
One of the most overlooked steps in digital security strategies is how to decide on a unique password. We don’t know about you, but passwords can be a real pain. Remembering your password and coming up with alternatives, changing it on occasion and memorizing hundreds of them for different accounts is simply confusing and frustrating.
Because of this, many users use simple phrases and reuse old passwords or the same password across all accounts. This is a cybercriminals dream! Digital security needs to start from ground up when it comes to password selection.
If you cannot come up with a truly unique and secure password, you can try using what is called a ‘Password Generator‘ or ‘Password Manager‘. These password generators simply generate unique, strong and secure passwords. They will also help store them for you so you don’t need to memorize it. Many of these password managers or password generators come with many extra levels/layers of digital security as well.
To give you an idea of how ‘easy’ it is for cyber hackers or cybercriminals to hack your account and gain access to your digital wallets, here is a chart that explains the time it takes for a hacker to crack your password. As you can see, what ‘seems’ unique and secure is probably not!
Your passwords should be at least sixteen (16) characters (numbers, lowercase & uppercase letters plus symbols), extremely complex and unique for your accounts.
Digital security is enhanced when you use what is known as 2-factor authentication (2FA for short). In the event that a hacker or cybercriminal steals or cracks your password, they will not be able to access your account without your 2FA. There are different types of 2FA for digital wallet security and they include:
- SMS-Based (a verification is sent to your mobile device via text message)
- 2FA App (mobile app that generates 6-digit verification codes like Google Authenticator)
- Hardware Security Key (a hardware device needs to be attached and connected to verify like Yubikey)
Of these 3 types of 2-Factor Authentication, SMS-based is the least secure against cybercriminals and the Hardware Security Key is the most secure against hackers. Therefore, for ultimate digital security, use a hardware security key or 2FAApp on your mobile device.
What About SIM-Swapping?
Unfortunately, cyber criminals are always lurking in the digital world for unsuspecting victims. When a hacker is able to access your account in an attempt to steal, this is called an ‘account takeover‘ (also known as ‘ATO‘).
One of the most common ATOs is ‘SIM-Swapping‘ or a ‘SIM-swap‘. You may have heard about this as it’s becoming more prevalent. This can happen when a cybercriminal contacts your wireless carrier pretending to be you and persuades the customer rep to redirect your cell service (both voice and text) to a different device. This changes the SIM card number associated with your wireless carrier account … hence ‘SIM-Swapping’ or ‘SIM-swap’.
If this happens, digital security goes out the window because the hacker now has access to everything from phone calls and text messages. This can also include SMS-based 2FA (because the verification codes are sent to you via text messages). Once they have control of your mobile device, the cyber criminals will use the SMS 2FA codes with a database of stolen passwords to log into any of your accounts, including your crypto wallets and custodial crypto accounts.
When a victim of SIM-Swapping realizes that they’ve been hacked, it’s usually too late. The hacker works quickly and efficiently to empty accounts of all assets.
Just Be Smart & Use Your Common Sense
Yes, this may be easier said than done, but when it comes to digital security and securing your crypto against hackers, just use your common sense. If whatever you are doing just ‘feels wrong’ or is ‘too good to be true’, then it most likely is.
Many times, hackers will pose as tech support. NEVER give people your seed phrase, passwords, PIN codes, 2FA verification codes or remote access to your devices! Always double and triple check the URL (web address) that you are visiting and don’t click on links indiscriminately without always checking first. Don’t post your digital wallet balances or brag about your holdings (lay low!) and certainly be careful with airdrops and rewards that may look legitimate but are not. Watch out for phishing campaigns online and via email. And also be wary of online resources and hackers who ask for you to ‘sync your wallet‘.