How to Easily Mitigate Cybersecurity Risks When Your Business Owns Crypto
Cryptocurrency has already become the next big thing in the financial market worldwide. It makes the whole process of funds transfer between two parties a lot easier. It can also disrupt monetary authorities like central banks, stock markets, and other financial institutions significantly.
Many companies and organisations have started accepting cryptocurrencies, including bitcoin, as a mode of payment. These include XT88, Mangawhai Osteopathy, Hyperion Wines, Aurum, MyGold, Mega, Webscope, etc.
On the contrary, there is one major downside related to cryptocurrencies: cybersecurity issues when users don’t follow best practice security tips.
This post will let you know what cryptocurrency is, its (historic) correlation with cybercrime, impacts of cybersecurity risks on businesses overall and easy tips to help mitigate cybersecurity risks.
Without further ado, let’s start!
What is Cryptocurrency?
As far as the concept of cryptocurrency goes, it is an internet-based medium of exchange that relies on cryptographic functions when performing financial transactions. In simple words, it is an electronic form of money or a digital asset that primarily works as a medium of exchange.
It is a form of electronic payment that employs cryptography to offer an additional security layer when making transactions. Cryptocurrencies are not controlled or managed by any central authority, meaning that they defy the concept of control, interference, and governance significantly.
You can use cryptocurrency to buy various goods and services. Likewise, you can also trade them and potentially earn a profit too. Cryptocurrencies use blockchain technology which allows them to operate without depending on any central authority.
Current Situation of Cybercrime
Unfortunately, cryptocurrency's decentralisation may provide opportunities to hackers, scammers, and other cyber-terrorists if one doesn't employ strict security measures.
Hackers targeted cryptocurrency exchange platforms and stole funds several times in the past.
Recently, hackers used the most common tactic to attack a famous cryptocurrency borrowing and lending service, Akropolis. According to their official response, hackers targeted the platform through a "Flash Loan" attack. As a result, they stole USD2 million worth of DAI cryptocurrency.
This particular form of attack targets cryptocurrency services responsible for providing decentralised finance (DeFi) platforms that help their users borrow loans through cryptocurrency.
In October 2020, hackers attacked Harvest Finance, a DeFi service provider, and eventually stole USD24 million worth of cryptocurrency assets.
Similarly, ransomware attacks are also on the rise. Hackers or other cyber goons can attack an unprotected business and demand a ransom payable in fiat or digital currencies. In reality, this type of cybercrime is largely untraceable because preparators do not leave many clues behind, making it next to impossible to identify them.
Then, cybercriminals can pseudonymously convert crypto into traditional currencies via platforms that don’t require KYC and ID checks, making it even harder to trace them.
As more and more businesses turn to digital currencies worldwide, there is a strong likelihood that cyber threats will also increase drastically.
Examples of Cyber Attacks on Companies in New Zealand
Frankly speaking, cyberattacks can turn out to be a make or break situation for businesses. These days, many cyber terrorists prefer to attack companies through scams and other dangerous tactics.
For instance, a group of hackers recently targeted the New Zealand Stock Exchange (NZX) official website with a Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks. As a consequence, the sharing trading process was halted for four consecutive days.
Considering the severity of the issue, the New Zealand federal government took prompt action and appointed its spy agency to beef up the enterprise security system of NZX (New Zealand Stock Exchange) and secure the publicly owned company from potential cyber-attacks.
However, the story did not stop here. As per the initial investigation, hackers also attacked the other institutions in the country, including MoneyGram, YesBank India, WorldPay, etc. This particular event of DDoS attack is an eye-opener to companies operating within the Kiwi territory that they should not overlook the importance of cybersecurity at any cost.
Furthermore, they should consider using the best VPN for New Zealand and other cybersecurity tools to improve the security of their corporate networks and other resources significantly. By doing so, they can combat cybersecurity issues appropriately.
Similarly, hackers also attacked Metservice (Meteorological Service of New Zealand) through DDoS attacks. Due to that particular reason, their main website stopped working, but luckily, the visitors were redirected to its backup website.
According to the official response of Metservice, the company is anticipating such cyber attacks in the future. Likewise, cybercriminals also targeted Westpac bank with a DDoS attack on August 18, 2020.
Unfortunately, they have also targeted some prominent Kiwi media companies like RNZ and Stuff. However, they were not successful in their DDoS attack as both these companies' official websites remain secure.
Threats Organisations and Businesses Should be Mindful of and Tips to Mitigate Cybersecurity Risks
If organisations do not beef up their cybersecurity measures, they might incur significant losses in the future as a consequence. Here are some different cybersecurity risks all organisations and companies need to be aware of:
Phishing attacks are one of the most common ways hackers try to steal users' login information through legitimate-looking emails and SMS messages. If an unsuspecting victim follows a link to a phishing site and enters their login details, the hackers steal the users' credentials. Then they often ask for a ransom from the target victims in return or steal any funds associated with that particular account.
Phishing attacks aren’t limited to cryptocurrencies; the New Zealand Inland Revenue is an example of an organisation targeted continuously by phishing emails and other scams.
When it comes to protecting against phishing attempts, companies (and individuals) should use online privacy tools such as GNU Privacy Guard (GPG). GPG is a hybrid encryption software tool that helps you send and receive safe and encrypted emails from other users.
Hacked Trading Platforms
Criminals can also hack cryptocurrency trading platforms and steal users' funds to perform wrongful actions. This is because they can access users' trading accounts by retrieving their usernames and passwords and conducting unauthorised transactions. Just remember Cryptopia.
The whole scenario highlights the importance of not storing your crypto in hosted wallets and using a password manager.
For that reason, users should try Dashlane, Passopolis, or LastPass that allows them to save their crucial passwords without any trouble.
Moreover, they do not have to remember their login details themselves as it can save dozens of passwords and login details of users automatically.
Other cybersecurity risks such as compromised registration forms can also harm the security of businesses a great deal. They can access customers' sensitive information and sell it to make a massive profit in the black market.
Therefore, you should use something like Pie Register that enables you to create secure registration forms for your customers. It also safeguards your business website's data from the prying eyes of scammers and bots.
Spyware, Adware, Viruses, Malware etc.
Apart from this, spyware is another security risk that can harm users’ privacy a great deal. In reality, they are many types of malicious software that keep an eye on users’ browsing activities. They can be shown as ads in sidebars on browsers, or work quietly in the background of your computer without you knowing.
If you want to overcome spyware and malware issues, you should use robust firewalls on your devices. This way, you will not allow websites to track your browsing data.
In the case of adware installed on your system, it can monitor your crucial data, including passwords, names, and addresses.
You can install antivirus programmes such as Avast Premium Security, Norton 360 Deluxe, Bitdefender Total Security, etc., on your devices to overcome data tracking hassles and other harmful software. There is no harm in checking your browser and system settings regularly to ensure screening software is completely activated on your devices. The said screening software will block any adware as and when needed.
The future of cryptocurrencies looks encouraging. From businesses' perspectives, when there are multiple currencies involved during a cross-border money transfer, cryptocurrencies' roles come in handy, saving time and money.
Furthermore, traditional fiat cross-border transfer is expensive, slow and needs different banks' participation. In this situation, cryptocurrencies can offer a cost-effective and much faster way to perform such international payments. They can considerably decrease transaction costs and increase the transaction processing speed at the same time.
That said, the success of cryptocurrencies lies in the hands of companies or organisations. In reality, businesses have to improve their performance in terms of security and take appropriate measures to secure their crucial business data and mitigate cybersecurity risks.
In short, they should provide at least a basic level of cybersecurity training to their remote workforce and office staff that helps them protect their privacy while using official devices and other resources. Otherwise, hackers will keep coming up with new ideas to hamper the growth of businesses worldwide.
The above references an opinion and is for informational purposes only. Do not take this as
personalised financial advice or investment advice. The views expressed by the author do not
necessarily represent the opinion of BitPrime.
About the Author:
Burt Valentine is a tech and cybersecurity geek who has been working in this field for almost 5 years. He loves being the frontline soldier in this war against cybercriminals.
Last updated: 17/12/2020