Bitcoin is considered the most popular cryptocurrency across the globe due to its high price, decentralized functioning and digitized nature. Such is its popularity, however, that cyber attackers and online thieves continue attempting to steal coins using whatever means possible. No matter how technologically savvy you are, if you buy Bitcoin, you need to make sure that they are stored safely and securely. Here are four tips to help keep your bitcoins secured from theft.
1. Choose a Strong Password
Almost everything online can be safeguarded from unwanted and inappropriate access if it’s effectively password protected. That said, many people use the same passwords for multiple accounts, from social media to email and shopping platforms, which makes them easy targets for hackers. If you use the same password for your email address and just one other platform, for example, all it takes is for a hacker to retrieve the password for the other platform and they have instant access to your email account, which gives them access to everything else you do online.
Bitcoins are stored in a virtual wallet, making it vital that you use a strong password to protect it. It’s also good practice to regularly change your wallet password — and, by extension, passwords for all of your online accounts — every few months. This way, you can ensure that no one will be able to guess your Bitcoin wallet password.
If you’re running out of ideas, consider a secure password management system such as LastPass, which will generate long and complex passwords comprising random characters and secure them on your laptop or PC for access without having to remember all your unique passwords. For additional security, enable two-factor authentication, which means you need your password and an additional piece of information, such as a code sent to your mobile phone, before being able to log in to your password management tool.
2. Select the Right Kind of Wallet
Opting for a strong password is essential, but what’s more important is the kind of wallet you choose to store your bitcoins. There are multiple wallet types, and the one you choose will depend on your requirements.
The first type is the typical cloud wallet (accessible from both mobile and desktop), which is best compared to PayPal. In the same way that PayPal lets you store and access money from your bank account — and pay for items directly via PayPal, a cloud wallet allows you to store and access bitcoins from anywhere. If you’re a beginner and don’t have any bitcoins, a cloud wallet is your quick and easy option, as they’re simple to set up and use.
Another option you can consider for storing your bitcoins is a hardware wallet. This is a USB stick-like device, in which you can store all your private keys easily. Since these wallets can be disconnected from an internet-enabled computer as soon as your work is done, a hacker’s chance of accessing the information stored on it reduces significantly.
For added security, keep your hardware wallet and its backup key in separate places.
If you do large ticket-size Bitcoin transactions worth over tens of thousands of dollars every month, then it’s better to add one more security layer to your Bitcoin wallet. This can be done by opting for paper wallets instead of a cloud or hardware alternative. As they’re not connected to the internet, there is no way hackers can access any information stored on them online.
It’s crucial to run a malware check on your computer before generating paper wallets and disconnect it from the internet before creating any keys. Before you reconnect to the internet, destroy any Bitcoins footprint on your device, which will ensure that hackers won’t be able to access your information.
3. Don’t Access Wallets from Public Computers
Regardless of how urgently you might need to access your account, never be tempted to access your Bitcoin information using a public computer used by many other users throughout the day. For checking your Bitcoin balance and sending or receiving coins, always use your personal computer or laptop and make sure it’s password secured, equipped with the latest malware protection and isn’t used by anyone else.
4. Enable Multi-Signature
When multi-signature is enabled, a user has to have access to two or more wallet keys in order to process any transaction. Similar to two-factor authentication on certain websites, multi-sig means that even if a hacker has a private key, they need to have an additional key to execute the transaction. However, this added security feature is most effective when you can trust another person with your Bitcoin keys, so consider this before opting for this method.
If you follow these steps, you’ll minimize the risk of a hacker getting access to your Bitcoin wallet and keep your cryptocurrency secure.