Cryptocurrency Beginners – Basic Online Security Guide
One question which he is asked repeatedly, whether I am on small meetups or large gatherings like weddings – have you invested in Bitcoin?
This conversation does not just stop here. Cryptocurrencies like Ripple, Ethereum, and Litecoin are immediately followed in such a conversation.
On the one hand, investments can be very lucrative, but on the other hand you can lose all your funds overnight while on the market high.
It’s heard abruptly, is not it?
Security is a growing concern that today the cryptocurrency community is doing. A new wave of hackers, malware, ransomware, and scams has transformed virtual world into a war zone that is struggling with financial threats.
This situation is simple in essence. If you do not know what you are doing then you are leaving your money on the table.
Security Guide for Crypto Baby Boomers:
1. Password Manager
Security passwords start and end. Because there are so many cryptocurrencies in which you can choose to invest, you can use many wallets at the same time. I do not use less than four wallets and exchanges to play in the virtual token market.
To manage multiple accounts means having multiple passwords. You may not have the same passwords for all accounts. This mistake will not make even a ten year old person in today’s time.
Apart from this, due to the need to remember many passwords, one of them may slip through your mind.
In these situations a password manager is required. You only need to remember a password – which is known as the master password. All other passwords are randomly generated, they are strong, and therefore, are highly secure. You can also change these passwords if you have a cyber attack on your wallet or exchange. Furthermore, your data is encrypted and only you can access it from your master password.
You can go with Dashlane here because it is a powerful choice for this purpose. It gets integrated with your browser to enter passwords directly on websites with the click of a button. They also offer iOS and Android apps, and all your passwords are in sync. Dashlane clearly stands out among the many of the password managers I’ve tried in the past few years.
After installing Dashlane, you can also import existing passwords in your browser. Another good feature of Dashlane is secure notes storage. Because many crypto websites require us to copy-paste the private key for login (which is the best thing to do, but we have limited options for now), using the Evernote or Google Docs Instead you can store it on Dashlane. There are also some other features in this app. However, I let you find it yourself.
2. Two Factor Authentication
Although it is necessary to have a strong password, but it can not prove sufficient in the case of sophisticated cyber attacks like Brute Force.
Two-Factor Authentication (2FA) helps in dealing with such scenarios by adding another layer of security in the login process. Password entry is clubbed with a piece of information that only the user will have. This can be a token number that they can see on their smartphone or a one-time password (OTP) sent to your email.
This makes the job of stealing your data for potential attackers as difficult because they require physical access to your smartphone or login details of your email address.
There are 3 types of authentication factors that can be used:
- Knowledge Factors: Something that only knows the user (assuming he has not shared it with anyone else) These may include answering a password, PIN, or a secret question.
- Possession Factors: Something that is physically present with the user, such as ID card, smartphone or token number
- Biometric Factors: Something like that user. They are also known as Inherence Factors, these are personal characteristics that are unique to the user such as a fingerprint, face or voice. It may also include behavioral patterns such as keystroke dynamics.
You can also watch this video to get deeper information.
Here’s how you can implement Two-Factor Authentication or 2FA with Google Authenticator. Follow these steps:
- Enter your cryptocurrency wallet or exchange account and enable two-factor authentication from related options in settings.
- Download ‘Google Authenticator’ app from Google Play or App Store on your smartphone.
- Launch the App and click on the Red Plus sign at the bottom right corner.
- Choose from options to scan the barcode or manually enter key provided. Select the appropriate option that comes with the option that you see on the website of wallet or exchange.
- Enter 6 digit token number on the Exchange / wallet website or app that you see on the app.
- 2F Authentication has now been set up for your account. Follow this process every time you log in.
If you are looking for an alternative, then Authy is another superb 2FA app available for both Android and iOS app stores.
3. Cryptonite Google Chrome Extension
If you do not know about phishing websites yet, this is the time when you do your homework.
A phishing website, also known as a Spoofed Website, is a fake website that will convince you that you are on a legitimate website. It has all the features of the website that you want to visit, including the design and login feature.
As soon as you try to enter such websites, you are handing sensitive information to cybercriminals. This happens when you go to fake social media accounts of acclaimed wallets, exchanges, or cryptocurrency experts.
Cryptonite is a dedicated Google Chrome extension that can protect you from such fraudulent websites. It comes with the MetaCert icon which is installed on the browser’s toolbar, and every time you go to an authentic cryptocurrency website or social media account verified by MetaCert, it turns from black to green. It gives you complete peace of mind and protects you from the trouble of doing background check.
If the icon is not green, it indicates that the particular website or social media account is not present in Cryptonite’s database, and therefore, you should be very careful to proceed.
This extension is highly safe and reliable to use because it has been developed by a group of engineers who have developed official Google Chrome extensions for Yahoo, PayPal, eBay and Google.
An important point to note here is that this extension only works for cryptocurrency related websites and social media accounts. No regular website will trigger the icon. On the other hand, it also keeps a database of known phishing websites and automatically blocks them.
All these features make it a kind of and dedicated browser extension, which is essential for both newbies and experienced cryptocurrency enthusiasts.
4. Adblocker chrome extensions
Internet is completely filled with fishy advertisements and to avoid this you have to install Adblocker on the browser. If your browsing history includes a widget of authentic online cryptocurrency resources, then you are bound to see bitcoin investment and un-related ads related to wallet sign-ups.
Adguard Adblocker is one of the highest rated Google Chrome extensions that can be used for this purpose. It not only works with search engines, but also blocks ads on social media platforms and on YouTube.
Thus, it provides you with a higher security as well as a better user experience.
If you want to level up your security, you can switch your browser from Brave Browser.
Brave is one of those most reputed browsers that respect your privacy. It comes with in-built adblocker, HTTPS everywhere and other features that are best suited for cryptocurrency related activities.
5. VPN or Tor Browser for staying anonymous
So far, you have learned to protect yourself from password management, trackers, ads and phishing sites. Now, the next and most important thing is to secure your IP. Even the most clever people do not really focus on this and become victims of a smart hacker. Your IP address is one of the first things that the hacker will need when trying to hack your system. Using a tool to hide or randomize your IP is one of the best things for you, especially for people like us who travel a lot and use public Wi-Fi to connect to the Internet. Using a VPN or Tor browser will help you hide the websites you are browsing. In this way, you are protected from the preying eyes of a hacker, which is permanently monitored for unknown crypto users.
When it comes to maintaining anonymity on the Internet, Tor is the best browser / network in the world. While a Virtual Private Network also works satisfactorily to hide your IP address, the VPN provider knows your IP address and can point your Internet traffic to the VPN server.
However, Tor completely takes the game to a different level. It does route your signal through multiple nodes. Every node only knows the IP address of the adjacent node. Therefore, at any point, no one can know the full details of the chain and can not access your IP address.
Look at the complete comparison between TOR and VPN in the table below, which will help you make the right choice according to your needs:
Although the transactions on blockchain are anonymous, the IP address through which the transaction is done can leak your details. VPN or Tor helps you cope with this by masking your IP address and making you completely anonymous on the Internet.
You can visit Tor’s official website here to download the browser package.
If you are looking for a reliable VPN, IPVanish, ExpressVPN and NordVPN are great options.
6. Hardware Wallet for storing cryptos
If you are using the built-in wallet provided by cryptocurrency trading platforms and exchanges, then you are making a serious mistake. Such wallets are always susceptible to cyber attacks.
Recently the popular cryptocurrency wallet was violated by NiceHash, where cyber thieves steal Bitcoins of $ 63 million dollars in a robbery! And there was nothing that their users could do apart from seeing their investments disappear within seconds.
First things first – let’s look at the basics.
There are two main types of crypto wallets:
- Hot Wallets
- Cold Wallets
There are hot wallets on Crypto exchanges and trading platforms. However, it is easy to deal with them, they are also highly insecure and do not have access to your private key. If that exchange is hacked or they decide to close, you lose all your crypto assets stored on that particular exchange.
What motivates me to say this? Statistics!
Total value of Cryptocurrency hacks and fails is $ 1 billion by January 1st, 2018.
I’m sure you do not want to add your cryptocurrency portfolio to this catastrophe.
Cold wallets come in your rescue as they are not connected to the Internet. And something that can not be inscribed on the map can not be stolen.
Although there are various types of Cold Wallets, the hardware wallets are the most popular. A hardware wallet is a tangible physical device that is kept offline but it can be connected to the internet and can be used whenever needed. They are completely hack-proof because you need to press a button on the device for each transaction. I never heard of hardware wallet hack.
If you are looking for the best hardware wallet, then Ledger Nano S is the most popular option in the market. It supports Bitcoin, Ethereum, Dogecoin, Ripple, Litecoin, Dash, New, Ethereum Classic, Zcash and some other currencies. You can see the full list here.
This device is fully known as tamper-free and water-proof, and it comes with a strong design. It uses some powerful cryptography standards to provide you round-the-clock security.
7. Anti Virus
Let’s wrap up the post with basics – using an antivirus! You will be surprised to know how undervalued this step is among traders.
As discussed earlier, the virtual world suffers from powerful malware and ransomware that can steal your coins before you even know. Even a basic key logger can track your keystrokes and steal the password of your email or cryptocurrency wallets.
Thus, having a proven antivirus to back up you can save your portfolio as well as much more. This can protect you from identity theft.
Kaspersky and BitDefender are the major options when talking of paid antiviruses. Their database is constantly updated to provide cover against all the latest vulnerabilities.
When it comes to cryptocurrency’s volatile market, then the investment is not enough, though they seem to be simple. You have to be smart. There is no point in making this pile of fortune if it can be taken away in a second, literally.
The future of cryptocurrency is brighter than the sun and the story is just beginning. It is a perfect time to come into the market and there is an opportunity, which if missed, then you can feel remorseful of the rest of your life.
After all, in the words of Bill Gates, “The future of money is digital currency.”