How to fortify your cryptocurrency security

Luis Corrons 25 Apr 2023

Security risks are one of the most significant concerns when it comes to trading cryptocurrencies, and there are several types of security risks that investors should be aware of.

In today's uncertain economic climate, people are searching for alternative ways to invest and store their money. With high inflation rates during the last month and yet another crisis in the financial system, one option that has gained significant popularity is cryptocurrency, particularly Bitcoin. We just need to take a look at its price, which closed at $16,619.10 on January 1, 2023, only to reach $28,516.78 three months later on April 1, a whopping increase of 71.58%. However, many people still have reservations about investing in digital currencies due to fears of theft and uncertainty about how it all works.  

Bitcoin is a decentralized digital currency that operates on a peer-to-peer network. This means that there is no central authority controlling it and transactions are verified by the network's users. When you own Bitcoin, you have a private key that is used to sign transactions and a public key that is used to receive transactions. These keys are essential for accessing and transferring your Bitcoin. 

Bitcoin is not physically stored in a single location. Instead, transactions involving Bitcoin are recorded on a public ledger called the blockchain, which is maintained by a decentralized network of computers around the world. When someone sends Bitcoin to your wallet, what they are actually doing is updating the blockchain to reflect the transfer of ownership from their wallet to yours. 

While Bitcoin is not physically stored in a single location, the private keys that allow you to access and control your Bitcoin are stored in your cryptocurrency wallet. These private keys are like a secret code that is required to access and spend your Bitcoin. Anyone who has access to your private keys can spend your Bitcoin, which is why it is important to keep them safe from bad actors. 

Cryptocurrency security risks 

Security risks are one of the most significant concerns when it comes to trading cryptocurrencies, and there are several types of security risks that investors should be aware of. Here are some of the most common security risks: 

  • Phishing scams: Phishing scams are one of the most common security risks associated with cryptocurrencies. These scams typically involve a fraudster sending a fake email or message that appears to be from a legitimate cryptocurrency exchange or wallet provider. The message will usually ask the user to provide their private keys or login credentials, which the fraudster can use to steal their cryptocurrency. 
  • Hacking: Cryptocurrency exchanges and wallet providers are vulnerable to hacking attacks, which can result in the theft of user funds. 
  • Malware: Malware attacks can also pose a significant security risk to cryptocurrency users. These attacks involve malware being installed on a user's device, which can then be used to steal their private keys, lock them out of their digital wallet, or transfer funds to the attacker. 

What is the best way to protect your cryptocurrency? 

The key around the safety of your cryptocurrencies is where the private keys are stored. They are typically stored in an exchange, in a software wallet, or in a hardware wallet.  

Of the three, the safest solution by far are hardware wallets. A hardware wallet is a physical device that stores your private keys offline, away from the internet, which makes it very difficult for hackers to steal your private keys and access your funds. Hardware wallets are designed to provide a high level of security and are considered to be one of the safest ways to store your cryptocurrencies. They typically use advanced encryption technology and require a physical button or PIN code to confirm transactions, adding an extra layer of security. 

So, why should you use a hardware wallet instead of a software wallet? Let's compare the pros and cons. 

Pros and cons of hardware wallets for cryptocurrency 

Here are some pros of using cryptocurrency hardware wallets: 

  • Enhanced security: Hardware wallets keep your private keys offline, making it virtually impossible for hackers to steal them. This is the most significant advantage of using a hardware wallet. 

  • User-friendly: Hardware wallets are designed to be easy to use, making them accessible to all users, regardless of technical expertise. 

  • Multi-currency support: Hardware wallets support multiple cryptocurrencies, making them a great choice if you have investments in multiple coins. 

And here are a few cons: 

  • Cost: Hardware wallets are more expensive than software wallets, typically ranging from $50 to $150. 

  • Requires physical access: Because hardware wallets are offline devices, you must have physical access to them to make transactions. 

So how do hardware wallets compare to software wallets? Let’s do the same exercise with software wallets.

Pros and cons of software wallets for cryptocurrency 

When examining software wallets, here are a few positive things that stand out: 

  • Convenience: Software wallets are easy to access and can be used on any device with an internet connection. 

  • Low cost: Software wallets are often free to use or have a low cost of entry. 

  • Good for small amounts: If you only have a small amount of Bitcoin, a software wallet may be sufficient. 

The not-so-great aspects of software wallets include: 

  • Security risks: Because software wallets are online, they are susceptible to hacking and other security risks. 

  • Vulnerable to malware: Malware can infect your device and steal your private keys, giving hackers access to your Bitcoin. 

If you're serious about keeping your Bitcoin secure, a hardware wallet is the way to go. The enhanced security and user-friendly design make them an excellent choice for anyone looking to invest in cryptocurrency. While there are some downsides to using a hardware wallet, such as the cost, the benefits outweigh the risks. Remember to always do your research and choose a reputable hardware wallet provider to ensure your digital assets are safe and secure. We've even made a detailed list of the different options available to help you with your choice. 

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