Understanding Cybersecurity Risks in Cryptocurrency Investments

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There are many unique opportunities for investment in the cryptocurrency and blockchain industry. With several thousand different digital assets and a market cap of more than $2.5 trillion, crypto’s position as a worthy asset class is undoubtedly strong. In addition, assets like Bitcoin (BTC) have returned significant profits to investors over the years. In 2023, Bitcoin posted 150% returns in year-to-date (YTD) gains.

Other cryptocurrencies, including Ether (ETH) and Solana (SOL), also performed impressively last year. While ETH brought in gains of over 80%, SOL was much larger, at more than 900% between January and December 2023. Even Ripple’s XRP significantly benefited from a court ruling that spiked the asset by more than 70% within 24 hours of the judgment. Today, nearly every XRP price prediction is bullish, with Ben Beddow from Cryptonews.com putting the Ripple coin at a possible $1.09 by the end of April 2024, and up to $2.49 next year.

The Nature of Cryptocurrency Investments

Cryptocurrency investments typically involve speculation on the prices of digital assets. The simplest crypto investment strategy is hodling, where people purchase promising cryptocurrencies and hold them in place until their prices spike. However, people use several other trading strategies, depending on knowledge and experience level. For instance, experienced traders who understand technical analysis may monitor the market and use metrics like resistance levels, chart patterns, and moving averages to make educated investment decisions.

Regardless of each trader’s preferred method, cryptocurrency can potentially provide investors significant returns at higher levels than possible via traditional channels. However, novice or experienced, all crypto traders must consider cybersecurity risks that market investors generally face.

Cybersecurity Risks in Cryptocurrency Investments

Crypto Exchange Hacks

The cryptocurrency sector has had a few exchange hacks that cost investors millions. For instance, between March 2011 and January 2014, hackers successfully stole over 809,000 BTC from Tokyo-based Mt. Gox exchange across six hack attempts. Once the largest Bitcoin exchange, Mt. Gox eventually shut down and has not completely solved the mystery of the hacks, nor has it successfully returned all funds to affected customers. Regardless of experience as a crypto investor, the risk of losing funds to exchange hacks is ever-present.

Malware and Ransomware

Ransomware and malware are software designed to gain unauthorized access to a computer or other mobile devices. In crypto, malware can access a user’s private keys or other wallet information and transfer these data to criminals who can use them to steal funds from investors’ wallets. Ransomware works differently, encrypting a user’s files or data and only releasing these files after the user has paid a ransom, usually in crypto. Unsuspecting users may fall victim to this type of software, resulting in financial loss.

Phishing

Phishing attacks trick investors into providing sensitive login details or other private information to an entity pretending to be legit. This usually happens via fake websites or email accounts. Sometimes, hackers may use social engineering tactics, by suggesting that a trader’s account has seen some suspicious activity and asking the owner to take action or permanently lose their account. Criminals may also use “spear phishing,” or approval phishing which may target specific victims. Last year, Chainalysis reported that approval phishing was responsible for at least $374 million worth of stolen funds.

Insider Manipulation

Sometimes, employees with authorized access may exploit their privileges for malicious reasons. These employees can sometimes alter company records or manipulate accounts for their benefit. They may also trade with insider information when they have early knowledge of an event that could affect the price of an asset. Although this is rare, it is a scenario crypto investors must watch out for.

How Crypto Investors Can Tackle Cybersecurity Risks

Use Reliable Exchange Platforms

There are more than a few exchange platforms investors can use to trade or invest in cryptocurrencies. However, all users must be careful to use only well-established platforms with a history of safe practices. The exchange should not have suffered repeated hacks or received more customer complaints than others. Furthermore, the exchange should use cold storage to safeguard funds and regularly conduct security audits to detect potential failure points.

Diversify Investments

Experienced investors know that diversifying investments is the best way to prevent heavy losses. It is essential to spread funds across multiple digital assets and platforms to reduce the risk of loss in the event of a security breach. Investors who have funds scattered across various platforms can better control their losses instead of keeping all funds on one exchange. In addition, spreading investments across multiple digital assets helps to keep an investor’s portfolio healthy despite price fluctuations.

Be Security Conscious

Investors must maintain a perpetual security consciousness for the best chance of safety. For instance, all wallets and trading accounts should have multi-factor authentication (MFA) enabled to add an extra layer of security. Investors should also consider using hardware wallets for funds they do not intend to move for some time. Hardware wallets store private keys offline, making assets invulnerable to malware, phishing attacks, ransomware, or other hack attempts.

Security consciousness also extends to other measures, including regularly updating trading software since platforms usually release updates that include security patches. Furthermore, users may carefully select trusted third-party software that performs antivirus or antimalware functions. In addition, trading activity over unfamiliar Wi-Fi networks increases the risk of unauthorized access. Users should only trade, or at least restrict sensitive transactions to trusted Wi-Fi networks.

Double-Check Everything

The widespread use of phishing attempts by cybercriminals requires investors to be cautious about their trades. All website URLs, email addresses, wallet addresses, and general messages should be double-checked to verify authenticity. In addition to continuous verification, no one should click any link they do not recognize.

Consult Professionals

Investors should consider consulting investment advisors for guidance. In addition to helping with the most profitable strategies, advisors can give practical and up-to-date advice on remaining safe while buying, selling, or trading cryptocurrencies. Their knowledge and experience will help to avoid mistakes already made by others.

Conclusion: Remain Informed

The best way to stay safe and avoid cybersecurity risks is to remain informed about industry events and updates. In addition to making profitable trades, a well-educated investor understands that the best performers must maintain a good level of engagement with the crypto sector. All traders must continue to learn as much as they can to find more ways to secure themselves against cybersecurity risks in the cryptocurrency sector. A great way to do this is to join online communities and forums to read about other people’s experiences and create good strategies from their stories. All traders should remember that security is as important as profits in crypto investment.


 
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