Tuesday, March 20, 2018

How to Protect Bitcoin From Hackers? (9 Pro Tips)

Last December, a Slovenian-based online Bitcoin marketplace was hacked. 4,700 Bitcoins worth of $64 million was stolen back then.

A few months earlier, Bithumb fell victim to a cyber-attack by reportedly North Korean hackers who stole Bitcoins worth $80 million, along with personal details of Bithumb’s users.

In 2016, thieves stole $72 million worth Bitcoin from Bitfinex, a top Hong Kong exchange platform.

how-to-protect-bitcoin-wallet, protect-bitcoin-from-hackers
Protect Bitcoin From hackers
There has been countless such incidence of Bitcoin being stolen from exchanges and online wallets. And it’s not just Bitcoin, Ripple or other major Cryptocurrencies.

Initial Coin Offering (ICO), a hotbed for the investors, has faced even a worse burn. Fortune reports that 10 percent of all funds raised between 2015 and 2017 through ICOs have been lost or stolen. Approximately, this 10 percent is worth anywhere around $400 million.

How Hackers Steal Bitcoins?

Anything on the web is prone to theft. So even when secured in a robust infrastructure, you cannot be fully assured that your Bitcoin is safe.

There are many ways hackers and thieves can strike. The easiest way they can steal your Bitcoin is by gaining access to your wallet. Once they have your username and password for the wallet, they can enter your account and transfer the amount to themselves.

How the hackers can gain access to your wallet’s username and passwords?

It’s fairly simple. They can create a fake login page, just like the real login one of your wallet provider, trick you into putting your details there, and in no time they will have your password with them. (The process is also called Phishing.)

Another way you can end up losing all your Bitcoin is by putting your trust on the wrong third-party service provider. Maybe the wallet provider you chose is a fraud? Maybe the intermediary you’re using to transfer your Bitcoin from one account to another is fake?

Also, the security measures taken by these third-party service providers can play a major role. If they haven’t taken any proper measures to counter the cyber-attacks and shield from the hackers, their carelessness could cost you big money. 

Stealing $50 Million Worth Cryptocurrencies Through Google Ads

Cryptocurrencies Stolen By Hackers

In the most recent news, the cyber terror groups took phishing to a whole new level. 

What happened was they purchased Google ads for the most competitive keywords (like “free online wallet” and more). They then made a fake landing page of a renowned Bitcoin service provider ‘Blockchain.info’.

People naturally assumed that the ad they are seeing on different websites and on Google result page is that of real Blockchain.info.

They clicked on the ad thinking it is real, logged in on the page using their private details (username and password), the hacker found the private keys and bam (!!) they just lost all their Cryptocurrencies.

These kinds of phishing ads look very convincing. It’s really hard to tell if they are real or fake. Even the domain name looks extremely similar with the negligible difference that many find difficult to spot.

The Ukrainian hacker, behind this latest crypto-heist done successfully through Google Ads, has managed to steal more than $50 million worth of Cryptocurrencies.

Also Read: Bitcoin and Income Tax India- Is Bitcoin Income Taxable?

How to Protect Bitcoin from Hackers?

Now with all these hacking instances happening in the crypto world, it’s hard not to think about how to protect Bitcoin private key. After all, it’s about your hard-earned money.

While cybercriminals can always come up with much-advanced ways to exploit the loopholes in the security end, there are few basic things that you can do to protect Bitcoin from hackers. 

Protect Bitcoin From Hackers

Here are 9 measures you must take immediately to keep yourself within the safety rope:

1. Pick the right Bitcoin exchange

It is extremely important that you choose your Bitcoin exchange very carefully. Make sure the exchange has a robust infrastructure and that they have taken proper security steps.

Avoid the new names here. Always go with the reputed and established exchanges. Because they generally have good security arrangements.

A Bitcoin exchange getting hacked has become too common these days. So don’t skip this step. If you are trading in an exchange, do a background check on it. Read its blog and terms and conditions to see how serious they are about the security of their users’ money and data. 

Also Read: 15 Popular Bitcoin Exchanges in India

2. Select your Bitcoin wallet properly

Select Your Bitcoin Wallet Carefully

Broadly put, there are two types of Bitcoin Wallets: Hot wallets and Cold wallets

Hot wallets are those that are connected to the internet. Like an app, software, website. On the other hand, Cold wallets are those that are not connected to the internet. Like hardware disk.

Needless to say, Cold wallets are the safest. The hot wallets, connected to the internet are much more prone to cyber-attacks.

So if you’re putting your trust on an application, software or a website to store your Bitcoin private key safely, ensure that they are trustworthy. Do a proper research. Some are free, some charge money. See which one others are using and if it’s a fitting decision on your part to put some money in a Bitcoin wallet or not.

Note: These days, the majority of Bitcoin exchanges also offer the facility to store your purchased amount of BTC in their own wallet system.

It is recommended, even when you’re getting a wallet facility from your exchange, that you store a large chunk of your Bitcoin in a much safer, third-party wallet.

Also, there’s no proper answer to what is the most secure Bitcoin wallet in India. Because we have seen even the most secured facilities in this niched getting breached. Do your research. 

3. Be on two different exchanges

A basic concept behind this step is that in case if something goes wrong with one, there’s always the second one.

So if you’re a trader, you should trade on two different exchanges to minimize the risk of losing it all. Similarly, if you’re protecting your Bitcoin in a hot wallet, make sure you have two that store half of your Bitcoin separately.

This step adds a layer of protection and ensures that even in the worst scenario of your service provider getting hacked, a part of your investment remains safe.

4. Invest in a Bitcoin hardware wallet

Buy Bitcoin Hardware Wallet

This is what smart and serious Bitcoin investors do. And this is exactly what you should do. 

If you have invested hundreds of thousands in Bitcoin and if the quantity of your holding is large, it always makes sense to store your BTC in cold or hardware wallet. It is the safest option out there. Nobody would be able to touch your asset.

There are few good hardware wallets in the market that have been tried and tested by millions of people around the world. The most popular and best hardware wallets for Bitcoin includes Trezor and Ledger Nano S.

5. Check the name of the website properly

Don’t fall victim to phishing. Whenever you visit the website of your Bitcoin exchange and wallet, check the URL very carefully.

Make sure it is the real service provider and not the fake one. Blockchain.info could be Blockchein.info, Unocoin.com could be Unoc0in.com. Be careful of the spelling and TLD (like .com, .in, .net, .info).

Also, keep an eye on the SSL certificate. An authentic website would always have “https://...” instead of “http://...” before the name of the website in the URL bar. This ‘s’ stands for Secure. 

Is the website you're visiting real?

6. Don’t download and install untrusted apps

This is potentially damaging if you’re downloading the app or software from the unsecure source.

When you install an unsecured app, it could take control of your device, and collect your data privately without you having the slightest bit of clue.

So don’t download any and every app you come across. Keep your phone and computer clean. Run regular antivirus scan to detect malware and other threats. Make sure no one else has the administrative control over your device except you and the people you trust.

7. Opt for two-factor authentication

Opt for 2-Steps Verification

Two-factor authentication is basically a two-step verification process to identify who you are and if you’re the rightful owner of the account. 

To log in to the account, the users require not just the username and password but also another piece of information that only the user has.

These days, many top exchanges are offering two-step verification for login. Opt for it.

First, you will input your username and password. Once you successfully cross that security layer, in the next step you will receive a One Time Password (OTP) on your registered phone number. Input that OTP to successfully bypass the second security layer.

This process assures uber security, ensuring that even with your username and password, an impersonator cannot login to your account. 

Also Read: What to do if Bitcoin becomes illegal in India

8. Avoid any shady website

Be careful about the websites you visit and where you provide personal information.

Especially the movie and mp3 download websites, they push a lot of spammy popups, which are extremely difficult not to click on accidentally. Such mistake can end up installing potentially damaging apps on your device, which can collect all your private data.

So avoid getting in any shading website. If you do, have a good firewall and antivirus. 

Be careful of the websites you visit

9. Don’t believe anything that says “win Bitcoin”

It’s not uncommon these days to see websites claiming to offer free Bitcoins. One has to be absurd to believe that they are actually going to get a Bitcoin for free. Most of such websites are a big scam. Stay away from them. Remember the age-old rule, there’s no free lunch.

NEVER EVER share the private keys of your Bitcoin with anyone. Making this mistake is quite common when people are trying to receive Bitcoins from others – they actually offer the sender their private keys when in fact they should send their wallet’s address. Don’t make this mistake. Again, never share your private keys.

These 9 steps will help you protect Bitcoin from hackers and cyber terrorists. Remember, given how fragile this entire system is where once your money/Bitcoin is lost, it cannot be gained back, you must be very careful of every move you make.

Help others as well. Share the article and inform friends on how to protect Bitcoin wallet and private key from the hackers.

Also Read: Can Indian Bitcoin Exchanges be Hacked

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