The value of Bitcoins has increased multiple times in the past couple of years. It’s a currency which is not controlled, monitored, or owned by anyone.
This makes it a wonderful alternative to our regular online payments as it offers a higher level of privacy.
However, just like with our regular payment methods, there are some risks with using Bitcoin too.
Let’s check some of the most dangerous risks and see what we can do to protect ourselves against them for a safe experience.
All in all, the 3 risks are:
- Phishing attacks
- Relying on Web Wallets
Malicious programs can sneak into your computer and do all sort of nasty things to steal our money or our personal information.
One of these is replacing the wallet address with another one. So, you might think that you’re sending money to an address, but the malware will swap it before you notice and send the money to a different address.
And it doesn’t have to be anything complicated like that. Simply stealing your wallet address should be enough for the cybercriminal to do as he wishes with your money.
Yes, this can also happen with normal credit cards/banks. But, the difference is that the money in the banks is being monitored by the bank/government.
So, if someone uses malware to steal your banking information and transfer the money to himself, then chances are that you can report that to your bank and ask for a refund.
Solution to Malware
There is a top thread on Reddit which talks about stealing of coins from the wallet. Though this is a basic stuff but you should keep the money away from cyber criminals trying to inject malicious objects.
Use an Anti-Malware. Simple as that. MalwareFox is a great option for this kind of thing as it offers protection against spyware and anything related to it.
You might want to use an Antivirus along with it to increase your protection. You shouldn’t use two Antivirus or two Anti-Malware programs at once.
However, using one Antivirus and one Anti-Malware should be fine. Just don’t perform a scan with both of them at the same time as that will cause performance drops and interference.
Phishing is a method of fooling someone into doing something malicious. That could be anything from providing information to installing malware.
As to how it’s done, imagination and creativity is the only limit. Usually by an email which looks kind off suspicious like “Can you check this invoice? (Attachement.Doc)”.
Or they can also make a fake copy of a legitimate website to fool you into providing your login credentials.
Cybercriminals have started utilizing these kinds of methods to fool people into providing their Bitcoin wallet addresses.
If you fall victim to this, chances are that you won’t realize what you’ve done until it’s already too late.
Solution to Phishing
Use your head. Unfortunately, that’s all you can do. I’ve noticed that some Antivirus programs feature phishing protection, but I wouldn’t rely too much on that.
Using your head and having common sense is all that it takes to stay clear from phishing attacks. At least the obvious ones.
Avoid suspicious looking links, ads, emails, etc. An obvious example is, “CONGRATULATIONS! YOU’RE THE BILLIONTH VISITOR AND YOU WON A MILLION DOLLARS! INSERT YOUR WALLET ADDRESS TO RECEIVE THEM (Blinking with bright colors)”.
Other than that, be patient, be calm, take your time, and check carefully on what you’re doing and what you’re clicking on.
Relying on Web Wallets
Web wallets for bitcoins are more or less something like PayPal for your average payment methods like debit cards.
They contain the bitcoin address and any other related information. Due to the features that they offer, they often make bitcoin transactions much easier and faster.
However, there are some risks with using these. The fact that they are hosted online, means that they could get hacked at any given moment.
If something like that happens, then say goodbye to all of your money. As mentioned before, Bitcoins are not controlled by anyone. If you lose them, there is no one to blame.
The fact that they are not controlled by anyone, also means that a 3rd party web wallet company could just steal your Bitcoins and run away with them.
What can you do in that case? You don’t have a bank or anything to cover you. Again, if you lose your Bitcoins, it’s solely your fault.
Solution to Web Wallet Risks
You can either use alternatives such desktop wallets or mobile wallets, or you can stick with web wallets which are absolutely legitimate.
The problem with using desktop wallets is that they require a lot of disk space. For an example, Bitcoin Core requires a bare minimum of 145 gigs. That’s the price that you pay for extra security.
Again, if you’re willing to take the risk, you can make your research and pick a web wallet that is trustworthy and secure.