COVID-19 is unleashing new opportunities for cybercriminals to exploit individuals. The virus continues to wreak havoc on countries and economies, and hackers with no moral decency add to the damage by plaguing traders with crypto fraud campaigns. Just a few months ago, in the early stages of the pandemic, the Federal Bureau of Investigations warned citizens of an increase in cryptocurrency frauds related to the pandemic. Attackers are leveraging the fear and uncertainty during the pandemic to swipe funds from unsuspecting victims.
What are some of the security risks crypto traders are faced with during COVID-19?
Attackers use a malicious program to encrypt systems and files. These files are inaccessible until a ransom is paid, and for some cybercriminals, the preferred payment method is cryptocurrency. The malicious program is unleashed by coaxing persons to open attachments or emails related to COVID-19.
Whether it is a “new” cryptocurrency being introduced on the market or claims about high returns on cryptocurrencies, there are a number of fraudulent investment scams targeting crypto traders. Crypto traders fell victim to a bitcoin scam on Twitter in July, losing approximately $121,000.
Phishing scams often appear to be legitimate emails from a trusted source encouraging persons to click on a link or attachment. This scam is increasing during the pandemic, with hackers posing as charities or government agencies asking for donations or promising a payout due to the economic downtown. Clicks on these malicious links can also take individuals to fraudulent sites purporting to sell personal protective equipment. But when victims are directed to these fraudulent websites, personal information is stolen, such as private keys for their crypto accounts.
How can traders protect their crypto wallet?
The associated risks with being a crypto trader may cause some hesitancy to dive into the market, but the truth is that nothing is full proof. Every investment comes with risks. However, to curtail some of those risks, there are several safety measures a crypto trader can practice:
Use a VPN to remain anonymous
Here’s one of the smartest tips to follow as a crypto trader: use a VPN. Using a VPN app strengthens your online security because it prevents hackers from monitoring your crypto exchanges. When you use a VPN to check your account or conduct exchanges, you remain anonymous. Hackers are blocked from tracking your online activity and are less likely to hijack your account.
Use two-factor authentication for an added layer of protection
Increase your security by enabling two-factor authentication to access your crypto wallet. One password may not be enough to deter attackers. By bolstering your security using 2FA, an additional code is sent to your device that must be used immediately to open your account. The code is only valid for a couple of minutes and is an added layer of protection when used along with a strong password.
Use a password manager to retrieve your private keys
Your private keys to access your crypto wallet is a code that can be difficult to remember. The more complicated and unique your code is, the better off you will be in keeping hackers at bay. A password manager helps you to store and retrieve your code. You don’t have to worry about remembering the code or run the risk of getting locked out of your wallet when you use a password manager app.
Use separate wallets to store funds safely
Storing all your cryptocurrencies in one wallet is a significant security risk. If there is a security breach, you will lose all your funds. Now consider how this disaster could be averted if you spread your funds across different wallets. One of the best tactics is to keep an online wallet for trading purposes while storing most of your cryptocurrency in an offline wallet. An offline wallet, or ‘cold storage’ such as a hard drive or USB is inaccessible to hackers — a malware can intercept your online wallet’s password but cannot intercept your offline wallet.
Update your device software and antivirus to reduce vulnerability
An updated device is well prepared and equipped to stave off malware attacks. Hackers are always creating new and sophisticated ways to launch an attack so regular updates fortify your crypto wallet’s security. Do not ignore prompts on your device to update your software as it is one of the most effective ways to remove vulnerabilities that might emerge.