How to Secure Your Bitcoin Investments

Bitcoin, one of the largest digital assets, is frequently targeted in thefts and security breaches. It’s clear why cybercriminals are keenly interested in Bitcoin. They might demand Bitcoin in ransomware attacks or attempt to steal from your wallets-hackers are constantly finding ways to access these valuable assets.

For instance, just last year, hackers managed to steal millions in Bitcoin using just the victims’ phone numbers. This is merely one of many alarming incidents.

Given these risks, it’s crucial to protect your Bitcoin. Here are some strategies and precautions that are essential for keeping your Bitcoin secure. Remember, these tips will only be effective if you actively implement them in your routine.

Now, let’s explore some effective methods to safeguard your Bitcoin. Remember, applying these tips consistently is the key to protecting your investments.

Why Is Securing Bitcoin Important?

Since all aspects of Bitcoin are digital, they can be compromised like any other digital asset. The control over your Bitcoins primarily resides in their private keys, which, if not secured, can lead to theft. While Bitcoin wallets offer substantial protection, it is wise to take additional measures to enhance their security.

Bitcoin, the largest digital asset, depicted in a digital illustration.

The need for robust security is critical because a theft or a hack can occur due to even the smallest bug or loophole-perhaps in the wallet’s code or in your method of safeguarding Bitcoins. A single oversight could result in a significant loss, which, as you’re reading this, you surely want to avoid.

Here are a few notable examples of severe Bitcoin thefts from the past:

  1. Mt. Gox’s Hack (2014): Over 744,000 BTCs, valued at $350 million at the time, were stolen from Japan’s Mt. Gox exchange. An additional loss of $55 million in fiat currencies was reported but unconfirmed at the time of the hack.
  2. Bitfinex Exchange’s Hack (2016): Nearly 120,000 BTCs, worth about $60 million at the time, were stolen from the Bitfinex exchange based in Hong Kong.

Bitcoin Security Tips

Here are some practical tips you can apply to safeguard your bitcoins against hacks and thefts:

Implement Strong Passwords

Although the advice to use strong passwords is common, it bears repeating due to its critical importance. A strong password acts as a robust shield, protecting against brute-force attacks and securing your encrypted data from unauthorized access. Therefore, it’s essential to establish a formidable password for your cryptocurrency holdings.

A strong password includes a mix of letters, numbers, and symbols and is at least 16 characters long-the longer, the better. Remembering complex passwords can be challenging, akin to remembering people’s names. Hence, I recommend writing your passwords on a paper sheet and keeping it in a secure place.

Illustration of password strength analysis.

You can evaluate the strength of your password to gauge its effectiveness. Moreover, there are tools available that generate strong yet memorable passwords. However, for optimal security of your cryptocurrency investments, consider avoiding digital password managers and instead opt for storing your passwords on paper.

Encrypt Your Wallets

As a Bitcoin wallet is a sensitive application that stores your funds, encrypting it with a robust password is crucial to prevent unauthorized access. While most wallets come with built-in security features, it’s important to research and choose a reliable wallet. If you’re short on time, consider one of these secure Bitcoin wallets.

Choosing a secure Bitcoin wallet

Note that while password-protecting and encrypting your wallet can shield your bitcoins from theft, it does not protect against keylogging, brute-forcing, or other advanced types of cyberattacks that target the underlying system.

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Backup Your Wallets

A wallet functions like a bank account or a secure locker-it’s only secure if unauthorized access is prevented and safe only if it’s tamper-proof. Properly backing up your wallet means you can recover it in cases of loss, corruption, or system failure. A complete backup of your bitcoin wallet, including its private keys and related data, is crucial for recovering all your funds should an issue arise.

To ensure the highest level of security, encrypt your backups using a strong password and reliable encryption tools. Store these backups in multiple locations, such as on USB drives, external hard drives, etc., and make sure to update your backups regularly to safeguard recent transactions and balances.

Example of a Bitcoin wallet restoration using Carbon Wallet

Here are a few reliable methods for backing up your bitcoin wallet:

  1. Backup wallet.dat: This common method involves backing up the wallet.dat file, which stores essential data such as addresses, keys, and transaction information.
  2. BIP 32 Wallet: This type of wallet generates a seed key used to produce your wallet’s public and private keys, allowing for recovery if your access is compromised. Popular wallets supporting this feature include Electrum and Carbon Wallet.
Utilize Multi-Signatures

Some Bitcoin wallets offer a multi-signature option, allowing multiple people to co-own a single address or wallet, unlike the typical single-person wallets. To perform any transaction, the signatures of all parties are required, enhancing security beyond that of single-user wallets.

When setting up the wallet, you can configure the required number of signatures based on how many people you want to share authority with. For instance, these signatures could come from a business partner or a secondary device you own. Therefore, even if someone accesses one of your private keys, they cannot steal your funds without the other required keys.

Illustration of Blocktrail's multi-signature wallet feature

While not all wallets currently support multi-signature, its adoption is increasing. Several web wallets also allow multiple signatures, enhancing control over your funds and reducing the risk of fraud by making it harder for thieves to gain total control through a single stolen key or compromised device.

Here are a few Bitcoin wallets that support multi-signatures:

  1. Blocktrail: Now part of, this service offers a reliable, multi-sig solution for both web and mobile users, including Android and iOS.
  2. Coinbase: Known primarily as a crypto-exchange, Coinbase also provides an accessible multi-signature web and mobile wallet, enhancing security for its users.
Opt for Hardware Wallets

While digital solutions carry inherent security risks, hardware wallets offer a higher level of security because they are not constantly connected to the Internet. This physical separation minimizes risk even if a vulnerability is discovered in a software wallet, as attackers cannot access the hardware wallet without physical possession.

Hardware wallets are especially secure because they often require physical interaction, such as pressing a button, to confirm transactions. This level of security is hard for hackers to bypass without gaining physical access to the device.

TREZOR, a trusted hardware wallet

Here are some reputable hardware wallets that offer enhanced security features:

  1. TREZOR: As the pioneering hardware wallet for Bitcoin, TREZOR now supports various cryptocurrencies including Litecoin, Ethereum, and others.
  2. Ledger Nano S: This compact device is similar in size to a thumb drive and supports Bitcoin, Ethereum, and other cryptocurrencies, with the ability to backup your accounts on a recovery sheet.
Opt for Paper Wallets

Paper wallets are an economical solution to secure your bitcoins. The main advantage of a paper wallet is that its private keys are not stored digitally. Since private keys authorize Bitcoin transactions, paper wallets are immune to digital attacks, keeping your coins secure. They are often used to store large amounts over long periods.

Paper wallets generate two QR codes: one public code for receiving bitcoins and one private code for spending the bitcoins stored within.

Example of a highly secure paper wallet

However, paper wallets do not allow for the spending of fractional amounts. To use any of the funds, you must transfer the entire balance to a digital wallet using the private key. Once transferred, the paper wallet should be discarded as it’s no longer secure.

Here are a few reliable paper wallet generators for Bitcoin:

  1. Bitcoin Paper Wallet: A user-friendly, attractive paper wallet generator that operates in offline mode to enhance security.
  2. BitAddress: A straightforward, open-source paper wallet generator that can be used offline after downloading its files from GitHub.
  3. WalletGenerator: Another open-source tool that generates paper wallets for Bitcoin, various Bitcoin forks, and other cryptocurrencies like LiteCoin and Dogecoin.

Feel Safe Yet?

While the Bitcoin system and its wallets are designed to be secure, the same cannot be said about your computer, particularly concerning third-party applications. Any security breach on your computer could potentially compromise your wallet. Therefore, it’s crucial to take control of your security and implement necessary precautions to safeguard your coins.

These tips will add additional layers of protection to your Bitcoin wallet, making it challenging for hackers and cybercriminals to access your valuable bitcoins. For the best security, especially for storing large sums or for extended periods, consider creating paper wallets. And always remember to securely record your private keys on paper or in a diary.

What strategies do you use to keep your bitcoins safe? Did you find these tips helpful? I’d love to hear your experiences or any additional advice you might have. Share your thoughts in the comments below.