If you’ve invested in Bitcoin, Ether, or any other cryptocurrency, here are two truths: Your savings are a target for thieves, and it can be difficult to get your funds back if the worst happens.
Crypto exchanges are surprisingly often hacked. One of the biggest heists took place in August, when cybercriminals stole $ 610 million in various cryptocurrencies from the Chinese platform Poly Network. The hackers eventually returned the funds.
This is a rare case. Mt. Gox, a Japanese exchange, was forced to go bankrupt in 2014 after crooks raised $ 450 million in Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. Losses due to crypto hacks, theft, fraud and embezzlement totaled $ 681 million in the first seven months of this year, according to areport by crypto intelligence firm CipherTrace. If the losses continue, they would total $ 1.17 billion, although this is down from $ 1.9 billion last year.
Even if you store your crypto on one of the well-established exchanges, you might be faced with a slog to get your funds back. After reportedly received thousands of customer complaints linked to its customer service, Coinbase, one of the most popular exchanges, has launched a live helpline in September, which does not seem to have pleased some of his unhappy customers.
Coinbase did not respond to a request for comment butnotes on his site that it has “crime insurance” protecting some of the digital assets held in its storage systems against loss due to theft, including data breaches.
Additionally, the company confirmed on Wednesday that it has started testing a new subscription service that will allow customers to buy, sell and convert digital currencies without paying a fee for each transaction. Le Bloc websitereportedearlier than the service also includes features such as additional account protection and “priority phone support”.
Read more: Crypto security can be painful, but a few backups will go a long way
Of course, it won’t help if someone hacks your personal wallet – the software and sometimes the hardware used to store crypto – rather than the exchange itself. No one is responsible for cryptocurrencies, which are decentralized. You might want to complain, but good luck finding someone to listen to you.
What could be worse than having your funds stolen? Watch money flow through blockchain, the technology that powers cryptocurrencies by creating a public record of transactions.
“Your stolen funds are in plain view, but there is no way to get them back,” said Don Pezet, co-founder of online computer training company ITProTV. “It’s like someone has stolen your car and parked it right outside your house.”
The best approach, of course, is to make sure your crypto is never stolen. This means moving as much as possible into “cold” wallets that are not connected to the Internet. Secure any funds you leave in “hot” wallets, which are hosted online, as tightly as possible.
If something bad should happen, don’t give up hope. Here are some tips from the experts:
Protect what’s left
If there’s anything left in your compromised wallet, transfer it, Pezet says. Delete the wallet and get a new one.
All passwords linked to your exchange account should be changed as soon as possible, says Andrew Gunn, senior threat intelligence analyst at ZeroFox. Change your email account. If you think the device you used to access your account might be compromised, reformat it or, preferably, stop using it.
Call customer service
If your exchange is larger and better known, you are more likely to get help. Act quickly and your exchange might be able to freeze your funds, depending on what stage the theft is at, Gunn says.
Be aware, however, that many exchanges don’t really have to help. Some exchanges are located in countries with few regulations covering cryptocurrencies. Some countries do not view crypto as an asset, Pezet says, further reducing the chances of help from authorities.
A formal report is unlikely to help recover the stolen crypto, but it doesn’t hurt to have a case number or documentation. You never know if there will be an insurance claim or lawsuit that you can be a part of. Having proof that you took the theft seriously will help build your reputation if you have to.
In some cases, the FBI and crypto-tracing companies have been able to recover the cryptocurrency. For example, in the case of the Colonial Pipeline ransomware attack, the FBI, with the help of tracing experts, was able to recover approximately $ 2.3 million of the $ 4.4 million paid in Bitcoin as ransom. But federal authorities are unlikely to go that far for the average person.
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