Advice | December 12, 2017 9:00 am

Hackers Just Stole $64M in Bitcoin. Here Are 3 Ways to Protect Yours.

Stuffing cryptocurrency under the mattress is not an option

Whether you think it’s the future of currency or it’s due to collapse like the Ponzi scheme it might actually be, bitcoin and bitcoin futures are — at least for now — really, really, valuable.  

Valuable enough that, as of this writing on the afternoon of Monday, December 11th, bitcoin was trading at $17,261 and bitcoin futures were trading for $18,550 on the Cboe Futures Exchange.

(If you’re just getting familiar, here’s a quick explanation of what bitcoin futures are all about.)

But unless you want to wind up like Slovenian cryptocurrency mining marketplace NiceHash and lose $64 million in bitcoin to hackers, if you own any, you should protect it.

Here’s a brief breakdown of three ways to do it:

  1. Create a cold wallet: Essentially an offline version of the web-connected “hot” wallet many Bitcoin owners use, a cold wallet is a physical paper with a QR code linking to digital funds. It makes the funds harder to immediately access, but it can be kept secure in a physical safe instead of online.
  2. Get a hardware wallet: Similar to a cold wallet, a hardware wallet is an offline physical device, like a USB flash drive, that can hold your cryptocurrency. Accessible via a PIN number and an additional password, hardware wallets are secure but can get lost. Also, if you forget the PIN or the password, you’re in trouble.
  3. Use common sense: If you do keep your currency online, protect it the same way you do with the rest of your digital life. “We encourage all customers to take a few foundational, and free, actions to put them on a much more stable security footing,” Philip Martin, the director of security at cryptocurrency exchange platform Coinbase, told Wired. “Use a password manager, use two-factor authentication, leverage enhanced security protocols for your email address.” Turning on Google’s new Advanced Protection feature also might not be a terrible idea.

If you don’t own any bitcoin, don’t sweat any of that — but don’t look at this bitcoin calculator either.