There are signs that the conflict in Ukraine has already spilled over into our digital economy. Besides the information war being fought by both sides, experts worry that the next escalation in this heated battle could be a cyber attack in other parts of the world. A potential attack could target critical infrastructure or government entities or the global financial system.
The U.S. government recently retrieved much of the ransom derived from the Colonial Pipeline attack last year. Authorities haven’t revealed their methods, but some experts speculate that the government has the ability to hack into cloud storage services to retrieve the hackers’ private keys.
If the U.S. government has this capability, there’s a chance other governments could as well. Cloud storage platforms such as iCloud and Google Drive have been hacked by cybercriminals in the past, so storing private keys on such services could be risky. Moving your keys off cloud services and onto physical paper could be the safest option.
Two-factor authentication or 2FA is widely considered an important cybersecurity tool for ordinary users. Traditional passwords have become increasingly vulnerable as cyber-attack tools have improved. A state-sponsored attacker or sophisticated hacker could crack a password with relative ease. Adding an extra layer of authentication is an excellent way to secure your account and online information. Most mainstream crypto platforms have some form of 2FA enabled, but if they don’t you might want to consider switching to another service.
Moving Off Exchanges
A strong password and 2FA go a long way in securing your trading and investing account. However, your broker or exchange is also a point of vulnerability. Crypto exchanges are frequently hacked and the bigger ones are considered prime targets. Hackers have stolen digital assets worth millions of dollars from even the biggest crypto exchanges like Binance.
That is only part of the concern. Another concern is government regulations. Centralized exchanges such as Binance or Coinbase could easily be targetted by state regulators. These regulations are unpredictable and opaque in most parts of the world. To avoid the risk, moving your digital assets off of the exchange and into your own possession could be the best strategy.
Desktop and mobile wallets are certainly convenient, but they could be another point of vulnerability. Digital assets that live online can be stolen or blocked online. A cold storage solution is probably the safest option. Ledger devices or even a DIY memory stick cold wallet could be ideal.
Simply being aware and better prepared for cyberattacks could reduce your vulnerability. For instance, users who are aware of the phishing attack strategy could be far less likely to click on a suspicious link. Since phishing is one of the most common cyberattacks, awareness could seriously cut the risk for an average user.