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How vulnerable is Bitcoin to cyber attacks?

Since the earliest days of the internet, people have been exposed to cybersecurity threats. Although emails from a Nigerian “prince” have long since fallen by the wayside, cybercriminals are finding new ways to hack into systems and take what they want. Cryptocurrency and online shopping are simply new puzzles to solve in the world of online theft.

However, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t engage with online commerce or cryptocurrencies at all. It simply means smart and secure consumer habits are more a requirement than ever before. By knowing what threats you’re at risk for, you can make sure you’re practicing safe online shopping in all forms.

The good news is that there are also entire companies and industry leaders dedicating their careers to protecting people from cyberattacks. Even though criminals find new ways to penetrate developing technology, there are always countermeasures being developed to stop them. Here are a few things to know about keeping your cryptocurrencies and online shopping habits as safe as possible.

Online Shoppers Are Often Targeted

One of the first groups targeted by cybercriminals is those who do their shopping online. This is because online shopping is generally done with a credit or debit card, and smaller independent retailers may not have the best firewalls installed around their payment systems. Once hacked, your credit or debit account can be drained quickly and suspicious activity may not be reported for days. 

In addition to having your account hacked, you may also be subject to identity theft or phishing scams. The former enables someone to create new credit accounts in your name or to use your account to rack up massive charges, while the latter gives them access to your personal information — usually to sell it to other black market organizations. Phishing is generally done through email and can seem legit, making it one of the most common forms of cybercrime. 

Perhaps the most long-lasting effect of having your identity or card information stolen is that it can affect your credit rating. It may take time for the removal of fraudulent charges to catch up with your balance, which can lower your rating. There may not always be an opportunity to explain this rating to apartment landlords or other people looking into your background, which can be frustrating.

Cybersecurity Is Easily Risked With Cryptocurrency

The next biggest threat to your cybersecurity is social media. Considering the average user spends several hours a day on social media, it’s no surprise that it’s a hotbed for cyberattacks. For example, after acquiring popular social platform Myspace in 2016, Time, Inc. reported that 427 million account passwords were stolen. 

If you’re investing in cryptocurrency, then you may be at risk for some of the newer hacking methods going around. Cryptocurrency has a long and storied history, including a few moments on the dark web where it was used for black market purposes. In some cases, hackers have followed cryptocurrency on its journey into more legitimate venues, making those who invest with it a target.

For example, in August of 2018, three highly experienced hackers were arrested for stealing a little over $87 million in cryptocurrencies. They allegedly used remote strategies to transfer Bitcoin from personal accounts without leaving any trace. The suspects have since been charged with coordinating a series of remote cyberattacks that infected more than one million computers. 

In North Korea, hackers tried to steal Bitcoin from their southern neighbors. The attempts were identified via common phishing scams sent to the personal emails of employees working in the various cryptocurrency exchanges. They used “tax-themed lures” and malware to get personal information so that they could hack into the accounts to steal the Bitcoin. 

Names to Know in Cybersecurity

As mentioned before, one of the saving graces of the online world is that there are people working every day to protect your information from new attacks. With each new technological development, the progression generally follows that a breach or a hack occurs and then someone finds a way to protect against that violation in the future. This means that cybersecurity is a constantly developing field. 

One of the most interesting aspects of the cybersecurity field is that it’s comprised 20 percent of women — a high percentage for any tech industry. For example, Rachel Tobac is the CEO of SocialProof Security, a cybersecurity firm that specializes in the social aspect of fraud. She’s also on the board for Women in Security and Privacy, a networking group that connects other women in the same field.

Another woman pioneering cybersecurity is Camille Stewart, a cyber and tech attorney who is also a chair for Women of Color Advancing Peace and Security. She’s a former Senior Policy Advisor for Cyber, Infrastructure & Resilience Policy at the Department of Homeland Security under the Obama administration and brings that experience to everything she does. The work that WCAPS does helps to bring a greater diversity of thought into the cybersecurity field, which only serves to strengthen it.

Women like Tobac and Stewart are doing work with many benefits to the entire industry. They are helping to better improve cybersecurity on all sides while also helping to bring more women into tech — a demographic that is absolutely needed in the ever-developing future. This brings more accomplished and knowledgeable brains to the table when finding ways to combat cybercrime. 

Methods of Prevention

Of course, you don’t have to always rely on others to save your online data from attack. There are a few simple things you can do yourself to help prevent cyberattacks. For one thing, make sure you always have a unique and strong password — that means no dates, no pet names, no family member birthdays. 

The Department of Homeland Security offers some interesting tips for creating a secure password. For example, if you’re a basketball fan, instead of using a single sport-related word for your password, you could use an abbreviation that describes your love. The example DHS gives is instead of “hoops,” you could use “illbb” which stands for “I Love Basketball.”

You can also practice good email etiquette. Try not to click links directly in emails, even if they look legitimate, and instead, go directly to the site to log on. You should also never open attachments from unknown emails — retailers won’t send them and your friends and family will usually let you know they’re coming. 

Finally, if you have anti-virus software, be sure you’re keeping it up to date. New viruses and phishing scams are created every day, so you want your computer protected at all times. If you don’t already have an antivirus program, then consider getting one, as they are integral to your overall cybersecurity.

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