To new Bitcoin holders and investors it can be overwhelming. You have the responsibility and freedom of a bank in your pocket with no middleman and no controls, but with great freedom comes great responsibility.
If I had to ramble off a couple points quickly that every new Bitcoin users, holder, or investor should know it would be these…
Not Your Keys Not Your Bitcoin: If you don’t control the keys to your Bitcoin it’s not your Bitcoin. When you put Bitcoin on most exchanges like Binance, Coinbase, etc you are trusting them to hold Bitcoin for you.
Ultimately at the end of the day they have sole control over your Bitcoin and keeping it safe. These days many exchanges are insured against hacks and loss unlike in years past, but ultimately keep in mind, not your keys, not your Bitcoin.
Always backup your keys and keep multiple backups. Whenever I hear about people throwing away a stick drive with their Bitcoin or losing a paper with their recovery seed I think how stupid can you be. But I myself have almost slipped up and lost cryptocurrency in the past.
Certainly some people always managed to recover it, but recently as a matter of fact I did a factory restart on my computer wiping everything. Only after I wiped it did I remember a couple thousand bucks worth of NEO I had in a wallet.
After failing a couple times to recover it I finally remembered an old stick drive I had in a drawer where I backed up the recovery file. Always keep multiple backups for any wallets.
Bitcoin can be a very difficult asset to trade, because so much of the outbound fiat liquidity is controlled by such a small number of institutions. So, once you’ve put capital into the cryptocurrency markets, that capital has a tendency to stay there. You need to find cryptocurrency assets that you can trade in and out of Bitcoin to ensure that you have an opportunity to hedge against BTC/USD volatility.
Obviously, lots of folks recommend holding stablecoins as a hedge against BTC downside risk. MakerDAI is probably my favorite example of an algorithmic stablecoin, which traders can use to take shelter from BTC.
DAI uses smart contracts to create dynamic incentives for investors to push the price of the DAI back to right about $1. The way that the smart contracts control supply and incentives is really elegant and so far it’s done a good job of holding it’s peg to the USD.
The other approach is to explore ways to short Bitcoin in various ways. Some exchanges allow margin trading and there are futures markets for Bitcoin. So, there are ways to bet against the continued rise of Bitcoin.
In situations where the price of Bitcoin goes down, those bets should pay off. But, these trades are fairly sophisticated and margin trading can cause losses to get very large, very quickly.
At the end of the day, the best way to stay safe with Bitcoin is to follow the classic stockbroker’s advice–sell when everyone else is buying and buy when everyone else is selling.
Furthermore Staying Safe means different things to different levels of investors, but there’s two main ways that are true no matter what level you are:
1. Hardware wallets 2. Multi Signature transactions.
Hardware wallets enable Bitcoin (and other cryptocurrency) investors to air gap their holdings, which means that their private keys are stored on a device that never touches the internet which provides a physical barrier between your Bitcoin and potential attaches by scammers and phishers.
Multi Signature transactions are blockchain transactions made possible only by having multiple signers validating a transaction. For example, you give your husband or wife access, and possibly a personal accountant or lawyer.
When you want to make a transaction from your Bitcoin wallet, you’ll need at least 2 of the 3 of you to sign the transaction with their credentials before the transaction will be accepted by the blockchain.
More information for crypto investors and traders:
Security is a spectrum. unfortunately, not everyone has the same access to the different security standards available. First thing first, traders and investors may want to trade all day at will, but if they trust an unregulated depository, they will only have empty promises.
In Canada, for example, QuadrigaCX had the largest volume of transactions, so it was natural for unsophisticated traders to look for this exchange and for its reputation, but that did not prevent poor key management, which resulted in permanent loss for all traders and investors. The question then really becomes, How do I keep my private key safe while I trade?
Also in Canada, Bull Bitcoin was for that a quick and unexpected answer, a non-depository exchange. This means that you can safely HODL your coins on a hardware wallet such as Trezor (do not forget to have multiple passwords / passwords!) while actively trading them on the Canadian bitcoin markets.
As you know, crypto traders and investors are in constant danger whenever they’re online – both from hackers that have their eyes set on crypto wallets and governments that don’t like it when any payment goes untaxed.
1 in 20 crypto traders have been a victim of man in the middle attack.
In the future, traders should look to leverage solutions such as human readable addresses and improved transaction flow where venmo-like request for payment solutions have been implemented by some of the leading wallets
and exchanges who are working to deploy such functionality via the FIO Protocol. In doing so crypto traders can eliminate the risk associated with using Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.
A wise man once said that with great power comes great responsibility. Now I’m not sure if Peter Parker’s uncle was a bitcoiner or not, but I can only assume that a man as wise as this would naturally be into Bitcoin, had Satoshi’s vision existed in the world of Spiderman.
Regardless, the statement rings very true when applied to Bitcoin. The grandfather of cryptocurrencies was developed with the specific intent of granting monetary sovereignty to the individual.
Satoshi intended specifically for his creation to take the power away from banks and governments and place it squarely back in the hands of the individual, where it belongs. However, this great power can only be utilized effectively if adequate responsibility is taken by the individual.
Here are three key things that Bitcoin owners can do to safely store and manage their coins.
The first port of call when it comes to keeping your hard-earned Bitcoins safe, is to never trust anyone else with your private keys. Exchanges or other custodial services that do not provide you with your private keys are a security hole, as they are centralized. This makes them honey pots for hackers, fraudulent activities by institutional management and government pressure.
Secondly is the rule of thumb to stick to is “not your keys, not your coins”. If a custodial service controls your private keys, they control your Bitcoin, which defeats 90% of the purpose of Bitcoin. In a nutshell, don’t keep your coins on an exchange unless you are actively trading.
Since you shouldn’t trust custodial services with your coins, then where should you keep them? Non-custodial wallets are the best solution. They provide you with your private keys and thus full control over your coins.
Nobody can access your stash without having your private keys.
This means that no government, criminal or hacker is able to steal your money from you. In order to further secure your wallet, it is recommended that you create a 12-word passphrase and store this in a safe, offline place. Preferably a piece of paper, locked away somewhere boring, like a calculus textbook, where nobody will find it.
Thirdly, and possibly the best form of security, is rule number one of Bitcoin: you don’t talk about Bitcoin. There have been many cases of high-profile Bitcoin holders being kidnapped and extorted and/or tortured until they reveal their private keys. If you advertise that you own Bitcoin and the price of Bitcoin skyrockets, you may find yourself with a target on your back. So keep a low profile when it comes to talking about how much Bitcoin you own.
Bitcoin has for the first time in human history enabled the ability to transfer value globally, without having to ask for permission from anyone, in an extremely secure manner. This magnificent achievement should be celebrated by embracing the vision of Satoshi and taking personal responsibility for your own financial sovereignty. Always keep in mind that governments, hackers, scammers and criminals all want your Bitcoin, so take adequate steps to protect yourself.
The only way to deal with crypto attacks, is to truly understand the ways in which the devices used for crypto storage and transactions can and have
been compromised. Upon developing a good understanding of that, investors can then begin to implement proactive measures to secure these devices from future hacking.
Some examples of these proactive measures include:
Installation of security features such as keystroke encryption, anti-clickjacking and anti-screen scraping on devices . Doing this prevents malware from spying on and copying or gathering any critical information from the investors’ devices. Another way is to use stronger password protection with real-time transaction verification.
While there is no way to eliminate hackers for good, acknowledging that hacking attempts are inevitable, and taking proactive measures to keep out the hackers can go a long way.
One security issue most traders run into is keeping coins on an exchange which are prime hacking target or potential exit scams waiting to happen.
However it’s now possible to trade margin on most exchanges which is what most traders should be looking at. It’s of course risky, but the advantages of leveraged trading from a security perspective are huge.
Anyone who is trading crypto should aim to minimize the number of coins they hold on exchanges. Exchanges are considered prime targets for hackers, and there’s a whole graveyard of hacked or defunct exchanges.
Trading on margin allows you to open leveraged positions with no need to provide the Bitcoin required, that way you can hold fewer coins on the exchange account.
Staying safe when trading in crypto is an important element that is probably not discussed enough. There are many simple ways to protect yourself.
1. Don’t leave your assets on an exchange, always move your crypto to a wallet for storage.
Research wallet options and use what is the best fit for you.
2. Understand that, in many cases, there is NO password recovery option treat this stuff WITH CARE.
3. When you are purchasing crypto using crypto, always conduct the
transaction from your wallet, never from your account on an exchange.
4. Make sure you have a plan for someone trusted to be able to recover your key to your wallet/s.
5. Also, when buying: buy and then use a wallet; do NOT leave on an exchange!
6. When buying/selling: use a REPUTABLE exchange; be cautious on P2P if you
are inexperienced. When storing, know your options and have a SOLID recovery strategy if your key is lost.
7. Ideal way for a long term player is to buy on exchange and withdraw it to a hardware wallet and when you have to sell it transfer it back to the exchange.
8. Offcourse there is the odd case of the bloke who lost his private keys etc, but then most hardware wallets do come with a secure back up and this method has so far proven to be the best safeguard.
9. For high volume holders the option of insured custodians is the most suitable.
Look for exchanges that have a compliance program. If an exchange does not have a compliance program in place, we see this as a red flag for their operations, and it might be a sign of other deficiencies.
10. Diversify your funds.
Smart investors have always known that diversification is important-and it’s true for cryptocurrencies, as well. This is simply because it makes your investing process more safe and predictable. While it’s true that diversification alone will not protect you from a broad market correction or bear market, it does minimize your exposure in the case that one of your holdings exit-scams or is shut-down by regulators. It’s best not to have all your eggs in one basket.
11. Do not post your personal details on forums and social media. It’s extremely important that you ensure you aren’t giving out your data online if you are storing or investing in cryptocurrencies. That will only make it easier for hackers to access your investment. The same risk goes for using public Wi-Fi. Do not enter your credentials to access an exchange or your online wallet while connected to a public Wi-Fi, as this will make you more vulnerable to hackers.
12. Don’t keep all your crypto in one place. Even the biggest exchanges in world with plenty of security and good reputations have been victim to hacks and scams. In fact, many of the big exchanges are targets for hackers due to their large user base. Crypto investors betting on one exchange should be mindful that there is no fool-proof option, so it’s better to spread out your investment to minimize risk.
13. Use risk-scoring tools at your disposal. BitRank, which is our proprietary risk-scoring tool, provides visibility for investors and other financial institutions. Investors can use this to have confidence that the ICO they are investing in has not been use by a criminal element before a transaction takes place. This type of product also puts the past crimes of the company upfront, further exploiting whether they are an exit scammer or not.
Just like public companies, directors of crypto exchanges should be required to have an in-depth background check (credit and police) and it should be published or verified by an auditor.
Exchanges should have proof they went through a third party security audit like a SOC 1 audit.
More tips includes
Use Two-factor authentication (2FA)
Two-factor authentication will provide an additional layer of protection for your cryptocurrency wallet. When signing in with 2FA, you’ll have to provide a second piece of information in addition to your password. It’s usually a temporary code delivered by your smartphone, ensuring that
whoever tries to access your crypto wallet will have to have your mobile device on hand.
Use HTTPS Everywhere
HTTPS Everywhere is a browser extension that helps prevent attackers from hijacking your connection by redirecting it to a fake site (where you’d
unwittingly provide them with your wallet details) and forces crypto exchanges, online shops, and other websites you visit to use the secure HTTPS protocol.
Always use a VPN
A Virtual Private Network is an app that routes your internet connection through a secure server in a location of your choice, encrypting your
traffic and anonymizing your IP address in the process. This makes it much more difficult for would-be crypto thieves to track your online activities and trace your connection back to your crypto wallet.
As an added bonus, a VPN will help you bypass any online restrictions in case your government has enacted a ban on cryptocurrency. By routing your
online traffic through a server in another country, a VPN makes you a virtual citizen of Anytown, allowing you to access crypto exchanges and trade
“Crypto traders can stay safe by keeping their tokens in cold storage. Exchange wallets and hot wallets are a great option for easy access, though they are susceptible to different types of theft. I would caution anyone
planning on getting into crypto trading to really understand wallets before buying any crypto.
If you follow these simple rules, you will have an effective strategy to employ to stay safe with BTC and other cryptocurrencies.
Credits: John Frigo, Sara Cohen, Jonathan Bertrand, Dylan Bathrust, Kelly A. Frerraro, Ajinkya Kadam, Julie, Anne Szustek, Olivia Jarman, Brandor Ackroyd.JOIN OUR COMMUNITY