By Alex Mitchell
In the last year or so there have been multiple accounts of people logging into their crypto
wallets only to find all their currency gone. And in some cases, we’re talking about millions of dollars.
In light of that, I’m sure a lot of people scratch their heads and wonder why. Why would anyone risk their savings on crypto? And while that may be a valid question—although using cryptocurrencies is generally safe—we’re not here to talk about the why. We’re here to address those who have already decided to use cryptocurrencies and are wondering what they can do to keep their wallets safe.
As with any online activity, there are some simple methods that will give you an extra layer of protection and maybe an extra layer of confidence in using this form of money as well.
Lets go over a few key points of what we’re going to discuss and then delve a little deeper into each.
First, how are cryptocurrency wallets getting hacked? One way is if the user opens his or her wallet using public wi-fi. If you’re going to do that, make sure you use a VPN. There are many to choose from, but as a starting point, check out this NordVPN review. They are ranked as one of the best VPN providers on the market today, and for good reason.
Next, after providing a list of typical weaknesses hackers use, we’ll go over methods to thwart those threats.
What Weaknesses are Hackers Exploiting?
Public Wi-fi. We’ve already mentioned public wi-fi, but lets explain how that can be exploited. In a word, public wi-fi can be insecure.
When you enter your favourite coffee house and take advantage of their free wi-fi, you do so without having to provide authentication before establishing a network connection. Great for you—great for anyone that’s sitting at the table beside you too. Someone with less than honest intent. All that person needs to do it put themselves between you and the connection point. You think you’re being routed to the hotspot, but in reality, you’ve just connected with a hacker. While this is going on that hacker has access to whatever info you’re sharing. If you should happen to open your crypto-wallet—well, I think you can guess. The next time you look in your wallet, it will be empty.
What’s the solution here? Use a VPN. There are several to choose from, some free, some not.Some not so great, some excellent. As mentioned above. NordVPN falls into the excellent category. Using a VPN will ensure your trail can’t be followed and that your data is encrypted. Both things you definitely want when opening your wallet.
Weak Passwords. Weak passwords, passwords that are short or are something like abcd or
1234 are easy for a hacker to crack. For something as dear to you as your money, have the
smarts to protect it. Use long, strong passwords. And use a different password for everything. So when your Facebook account gets hacked—again—the password you use there isn’t the same as the password you use for your wallet.
To reiterate. If you have a strong password, you make it harder for hackers to gain access. Gofor passwords that are 12 or more characters and contain both upper and lowercase letters, numbers and symbols. Jumble them all up and use a password manager if necessary. Some will even generate your password for you.
No Antivirus. Not having an antivirus program on your computer or device is just asking for
some malware, spyware, keylogger, or some other form of a program that could share your
information. Always have an antivirus program installed and always have it up to date. There are some excellent free antivirus programs for your computer and your devices so there’s no excuse for not having one.
Using Non-Secure Email Programs. Any form of online technology in use today is,
unfortunately, vulnerable to attack from hackers. Using a non-secure email program is like
waving your hand in the air and saying, “Pick me!”
Any email you send or receive—assuming you send or receive sensitive information—could
open you to identity theft, and in terms of what we’re discussing here, could cost you the moneyin your crypto-wallet. Whenever you log into your email client using your username and password, that information is passed on to the email client server via IMAP or POP protocols. The problem is, the protocols aren’t encrypted, so if you’re using an insecure provider for your email, any third party could intercept your account login info. And use it to read your emails and gain information on other usernames and passwords that have been sent to you. Like your new account sign-up info from your cryptocurrency of choice.
The solution is simple. Only use secure email providers that encrypt all transmissions and all data.