While most of the activity involved ransomware attacks, the crypto ecosystem has also witnessed other forms of malicious activities.
The rise of cyber security threats is forcing organizations and individuals to adopt preventive measures that reduce their probability of falling victim to malicious attacks. According to the latest cyber security report by Check Point, cybercrime incidents have spiked significantly over the last year as the world moved to adopt digital ecosystems at the onset of the Covid pandemic.
The report further notes that there are currently over 100,000 malicious websites and about 10,000 malicious files whose goal is to steal or disrupt the status quo by accessing critical information. Following the rise in cybercrime, one can only help but notice that cryptocurrencies have become a significant driver of this darknet economy. Today, most hackers opt to be paid ransomware in crypto assets such as Bitcoin or Monero, a privacy-focused coin.
Cyber Threats in Crypto on the Rise
With cryptocurrencies gaining momentum, the trend seems to be far from over. Statistics by crypto intelligence firm, Chainalysis, reveal that crypto-ransomware attacks first peaked in 2020. During that year, victims paid close to $406 million to attackers as ransomware in the form of digital currencies. Per the latest analysis, another $81 million had been taken from unsuspecting victims in the first half of 2021.
While most of the activity involved ransomware attacks, the crypto ecosystem has also witnessed other forms of malicious attacks. Some popular ones include cryptojacking, phishing, attacks on decentralized applications (DApps), and crypto exchange hackings such as the infamous Mt. Gox hack in 2014, which resulted in the loss of $450 million worth of BTC at the time. The exchange would later declare bankruptcy.
Going by these trends, it is already evident that crypto is not just a bed of roses, or rather the gains also come with a significant security threat. This is why newbies and crypto veterans ought to take preventive measures to avoid becoming the next prey. That said, there are several ways in which one can protect themselves from malicious attacks. The next section of this article delves deeper into some of these preventive measures.
Using Cold Storage
Cold storage, as the name suggests, means storing your crypto assets off the internet. Unlike hot wallets, cold wallets are designed to operate on hardware that is not connected online. This means that no one can access your crypto assets from the internet. Cold wallets typically store a user’s address and private keys on hardware devices, enabling crypto holders to view their portfolio through special software without compromising the security of one’s private keys.
Besides the hardware wallets, you can also create a paper wallet to store your crypto offline. Ideally, paper wallets allow crypto users to print their public and private keys in paper form. As such, one can only access the funds if they are in possession of the piece of paper. Currently, there are many cold storage wallet providers, including Trezor and Ledger. However, it is worth researching which suits your needs best and meets the security threshold.
Digital Identity Wallets
With the crypto ecosystem operating on the metaverse, digital identities have become a familiar concept. Upcoming DeFi-focused innovations such as the Avarta ecosystem provide both newbies and veterans identification and authentication solutions. This 4-in-1 DeFi and blockchain solution allows crypto enthusiasts to use their faces as a private key to multiple blockchain environments.
If you’re looking to participate in DeFi, it is costly to avoid taking security measures given the magnitude of attacks over the past two years. Luckily, with digital identity wallets such as Avarta’s, one can seamlessly engage the market while retaining control of their private key. Furthermore, the Avarta multi-chain wallet support allows crypto users to consolidate their addresses and private keys in one secure wallet.
Multi-factor authentication has been around for some time, with services such as the Google Authenticator taking the larger share of the market. However, there are other forms of multi-factor authentication, such as using one’s phone number or an alternative device as an authenticator.
In crypto, most exchanges offer the option of a two-factor verification (2FA), allowing users to log in through a combination of their usernames, password and the randomly generated 2FA code. While it may seem like a cumbersome process, this can save you from losing your crypto assets to malicious attackers who often compromise users’ personal information, including passwords.
Stay Alert on Phishing Scams
Phishing scams have gained traction as more people interact with websites and applications. Essentially, this type of malicious attack involves luring users to provide their personal information through proxy websites that appear to have a similar URL to the real ones. For instance, attackers can create a domain whose interface looks identical to particular crypto exchange with only one letter in the domain deferring from the actual website.
If one is not vigilant enough, it is easy to end up on a phishing website and lose your crypto assets. Therefore, both new and experienced crypto market users should be on high alert to avoid such platforms. At the very basic, it is advisable always to double-check the URLs of the sites you’re visiting and be wary of those that suspiciously ask for login details.
Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) are another way to protect your crypto assets from being exposed to potential hackers. While cold storage may be highly efficient, using them is quite a process when actively trading. This means that you have to send your crypto assets to hot wallets on exchanges or other centralized service providers at one point.
VPNs reduce the risk of information leaking as a result of your device being compromised. Some of the existing no-logs VPN services can protect you even when connected to public WiFi networks. With a VPN, you can trade crypto assets online without much worry that attackers might be watching your activities.
The crypto ecosystem may be a sea of opportunities, but it is not guaranteed that you will always cash out your profits, not your keys, not your crypto. This being the case, one of the surest ways to win or retain your wealth is by upping your preventive measures. The five approaches highlighted in this article are but the tip of the iceberg; there are more ways in which one can protect themselves hence the importance of Doing Your Own Research (DYOR) before going all-in.
Having obtained a diploma in Intercultural Communication, Julia continued her studies taking a Master’s degree in Economics and Management. Becoming captured by innovative technologies, Julia turned passionate about exploring emerging techs believing in their ability to transform all spheres of our life.