Understanding the Cybersecurity Risk of Bitcoin
Are you interested in purchasing Bitcoin? If so, it’s essential to understand the potential security risks surrounding it. With cybercriminals ramping up their attacks, cryptocurrency will likely be a target. Here’s what you need to know.
Wallets Carry Risks
Cryptocurrency enthusiasts use both hot and cold wallets to store their Bitcoin. A hot wallet has an internet connection, which makes it potentially hackable. You might wake up one morning to find your funds depleted by an infiltrator overnight. A May 2019 cyberattack on a Binance hot wallet led to a theft of $41 million—more than 7,000 Bitcoin.
Storing your Bitcoin in a cold wallet—one without an internet connection—does not make you free and clear, however. Take the example of Gerald Cotten, a cryptocurrency exchange CEO who passed away while being the sole holder of passwords to his accounts. That situation restricted access to approximately $137 million in cryptocurrencies held in cold wallets and owned by about 115,000 customers.
When experts eventually took Cotten’s laptops, they found that someone emptied the wallets about eight months before the CEO died. That revelation caused some people to wonder if he faked his death and ran off with the funds.
Stolen Data May End Up Sold
Most tech-savvy people know that one of the consequences of being an internet breach victim is that their data may end up on the dark web, sold to any party willing to pay the price. That outcome can happen with cryptocurrency details, too.
Reporters said that the hacker allegedly behind the infiltration of Ethereum.org took information from customers associated with several leading cryptocurrency wallet brands. The cybercriminal has three databases collectively containing information from 80,000 people, including emails, home addresses, and phone numbers.
Although the hacker did not put cryptocurrency-related data up for sale, this example shows you must always be aware of your information’s value and work hard to protect it. Many people appreciate dealing with Bitcoin because of its decentralized nature, believing it’s safer than doing business with a bank. Regardless of whether that’s your mindset, any data you use to sign up for a cryptocurrency site or service could end up in the wrong hands.
Investment Advisers Must Take Cybersecurity Precautions
A recent report about investment advising and cryptocurrency revealed that clients who want to expand their portfolios are increasingly likely to inquire about the digital currency. For example, 76% of all advisers polled received crypto questions from their customers in 2019. Bitwise also expects 13% of advisers to allocate funds to cryptocurrencies this year—up from 6% in 2019.
Maintaining robust cybersecurity is a crucial part of operating as a responsible investment adviser. Statistics say 91% of businesses follow a risk-based cybersecurity framework. That approach only works well for investment advisers if they know which threats exist. Scheduling evaluations such as penetration tests can help them understand the existing weaknesses, but these professionals should also stay abreast of crypto-related cyber threats as they arise.
Customers trust investment experts to manage and grow their wealth. Relationship building is a crucial part of the job, but unaddressed cyber risks could erode any trust accumulated through interactions over months or years.
Social Media Scams Could Fool Bitcoin Owners
Bitcoin is a hot topic these days, and it’s natural to follow social media profiles of thought leaders in the crypto and tech industries. Doing so could give you a head start on knowing about significant developments before others.
However, another cybersecurity threat associated with Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies concerns scams spreading through social media. Criminals trick followers by impersonating famous people, then posting messages about “giveaways.” The premise is that if you send a small amount of cryptocurrency to a provided address, you’ll get double, triple, or more in return.
The parties offering such free money never take action to part with their funds. They merely sit back and watch the crypto transfers arrive. People familiar with this kind of wrongdoing also raise concerns because they assert that social media sites don’t do enough to police this fraudulent activity and ban those responsible for it.
This approach is similar to emails that many people receive claiming they won the lottery or received an inheritance from a long-lost relative, and need to provide their bank account details to get the money. No funds show up, of course. Always exercise critical thinking and ponder the details carefully before taking action you may regret.
Potentially Worthwhile, but Not Without Risks
After reading this coverage and doing your own research, you may conclude that investing in Bitcoin still interests you. An ideal way to protect yourself as a cryptocurrency owner is to thoroughly understand the pros and cons of any move before making it. Then, you’re more likely to be well-educated before making your decision. Bitcoin is not a risk-free investment. Educating yourself about cybersecurity risks is an ideal way to avoid them.
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