Everything you do online leaves a digital trace. Terabytes of personal information flow through networks every single second. All the while, the likelihood that your IP address, email credentials, or even your private wallet key lands on a dark web info dump is increasing with each passing moment.
And once hackers get their hands on any piece of your personal information, you can kiss your crypto goodbye.
Thankfully, you can greatly reduce the chances of that happening. Or even avoid it entirely. All it takes is taking your online privacy seriously.
Step 1: Get Your Private Keys Off The Internet
If you’re into crypto, you’ve probably heard this before. Still, it definitely bears repeating here: never keep your private keys online. This includes email, cloud drives, and even storage devices that can connect to the internet.
If you store your private keys on an online-capable device, it makes them susceptible to hacks. And you know what getting your codes hacked and stolen means: if you don’t own your private keys, you don’t own your crypto. Period. It’s gone. All of it.
So how do you avoid getting your private keys stolen? It’s simple: Use a hardware wallet
Hardware wallets are devices that are specifically designed to store your crypto offline. They offer several layers of protection, including:
- Backup recovery seeds
- Two-factor authentication (2FA)
The best thing about hardware wallets like Ledger Nano is that your private keys never leave the device. This means that your crypto can’t be stolen even if you connect your wallet to a computer or smartphone that is compromised by a malware infection.
If you don’t want to spend money on a hardware wallet, the free option is to write your private keys down on pieces of paper, then laminate them. An additional trick is to separate the keys into parts and store these “paper wallets” in a safe location (or two).
Step 2: Protect Your Online Privacy with a VPN
Since you already encrypt your digital currency, why not do the same for your entire online traffic? Luckily, there’s an app for that.
A VPN (short for “Virtual Private Network”) routes your internet connection through a secure server in a location of your choice, encrypting your data and anonymizing your IP in the process. This additional layer of privacy makes it much more difficult for would-be crypto thieves to trace your connection back to the IP address associated with your crypto transaction relays.
As an added bonus, a good VPN will help you bypass any online restrictions in case your government bans cryptocurrency. This will make you a virtual citizen of Anytown, allowing you to access crypto exchanges and trade at will, wherever you are.
What’s even better, a whopping 71% of VPNs accept cryptocurrency as payment, according to an upcoming report by the cybersecurity experts at VPNpro. So, don’t forget to buy yours with crypto – that’s what all the online privacy geeks do.
Just make sure to pick a VPN you can trust. Most VPN companies promise you the world but fail to deliver where it really matters. Take a look at this NordVPN review to get a feel of how to separate the wheat from the chaff.
Step 3: Practice Off-chain Privacy Hygiene
While a VPN will considerably up your anonymity, hackers can use other avenues to get their hands on your data. Your personal email address, phone number, or even your Twitter handle can be all they need to take over your wallet.
To achieve perfect online privacy, you’ll have to secure all of the above. Don’t worry, it’s a pretty straightforward process.
Do a Big Data Detox
It’s been more than a decade since most of us began using social media. And you probably know that Google, Facebook, and Twitter have been busy siphoning your personal information and selling it to third parties all this time. It’s high time you put a stop to that.
Thankfully, these platforms have tools for reviewing the data they collect about you and removing at least some of it. Considering that huge data breaches happen on an almost monthly basis, the sooner you ask Google, Facebook, and Twitter for your sensitive data, the better.
Once you get that sorted out, begin using a private search engine. You don’t want to start re-uploading your data to Google just after you make them erase it.
Private search engines like DuckDuckGo don’t inject you with any trackers, nor do they profile your browsing habits like crazy. And they encrypt your data as well, giving the websites you visit even less information about you. It’s a win-win.
Block ALL the Scripts
Next, be sure to install an adblocker, followed by an anti-script app such as Ghostery. These apps will prevent websites from automatically running any potentially malicious code and allow you to selectively unblock scripts from trusted domains.
Use Encrypted Email
Finally, take all your crypto service accounts and migrate them to a fully encrypted email provider, such as ProtonMail. This way, even if your messages get intercepted, they won’t yield anything useful to the hacker. Unless said hacker has a couple of million years to spend on decrypting your emails.
It sure feels great to have your online privacy move up a notch or two.
That said, “perfect” will always remain an ideal, not a fact. Although these steps make linking your crypto to your identity a lot harder, learning how to stay ahead of your online adversaries is no longer a luxury. It’s a constant necessity.