It should be no surprise to bitcoin users that ever since bitcoin became a reliable store of value, malicious hackers would want to target bitcoin wallets in attempts to steal funds. One of the selling points of bitcoin is a user’s ability to take specific and managed steps to secure money. You can basically be your own bank. If you are being your own bank then you also need to take precautions to ensure your money is kept secure.
Just like with any other piece of sensitive data you keep on your computer, it needs to be safe guarded. And with Monday’s Hacking Team revelations, it clearly shows that many organizations are working with companies which use sophisticated malware in attempts to compromise consumer software. Reports are emerging that bitcoin and litecoin transaction monitoring were specifically targeted.As a helpful reminder, here are a few tips to keep your computer and sensitive materials safeguarded. If you are running a bitcoin wallet on your machine, it’s imperative to follow good security practices.
- First and most important is to install an antivirus (AV) program. If you are browsing the web without an AV program, you are inviting potential problems. New malware and computer viruses pop up every day, for example the one pictured above. antivirus programs help guard against these viruses once they become public. It’s important to keep your AV program updated as well.
- Do not open email attachments from senders you don’t know. Even more so, if you aren’t expecting an attachment from someone you do know, it’s possible that the sender’s email was spoofed. Attachments can download executable files once opened and infect your machine with malware. This goes for links in emails too, as a malicious link can be masked to appear innocent until you click it. Sometimes malicious emails are easy to spot; look for spelling mistakes and grammatical errors.
- Do not download software or programs from the web that you aren’t sure about, or is questionable, as it could contain malware. It’s important to stay vigilant about security. If in doubt, ask around or check if the program has been vetted by someone or some entity you trust.
- Try to avoid using public WiFi if you have a bitcoin wallet running on your machine. Public WiFi can be susceptible to attacks. If you have to use public WiFi, use a VPN.
- Use complex passwords. Setting strong passwords or passphrases makes it difficult for someone to crack your account. Use a phrase that contains letters, numbers, and special characters that is at least 16 characters long (or longer). It’s also recommended to use a password manager so that you aren’t reusing passwords.
- 2FA everything. Two Factor Authentication (2FA) creates an additional barrier between you and malicious hackers. It’s important to add an additional layer of security to your sensitive data.
- Try to keep your data private, which will make it harder for hackers to exploit you through social engineering. Using tools such as TOR, PGP, and HTTPS Everywhere will help keep your privacy online.
If you aren’t running a bitcoin wallet directly on your machine, and are using a hosted wallet solution like the Blockchain Wallet, we have best practices that you can use to help beef up your security. Ultimately, bitcoin users should be security conscious, and aware of online traps and email scams.
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