PRIVACY IN dIGITAL OR CRYPTOCURRENCY. SPOOFING PAYMENT INFORMATION AND PHISHING
Frauds are quite possible in the cyber world. Though you may feel that it is safer than the traditional banking systems, you will be surprised as to how many possible errors can arise while you are engaging in transfers with cryptocurrency. As you may already know, cryptocurrency means digital money which is transferred on the basis on internet and wallet addresses. Now, the biggest problem with respect to this is that while you make a cryptocurrency transfer, you do not need to put in card details but the address of the recipient’s wallet. This may sound simple and very effective at first. But, if you have a closer look, this too can be quite risky. Often people are unaware of this due to lack of requisite knowledge. This is another disadvantage of dealing in cryptocurrency. Spoofing payment information and phishing implies that often when you put in one wallet address for the transfer, it is replaced by another due to the quick action of malware. This is where innocent victims fall into the trap because let us face it, not everyone has the time to keep double checking the entered address. Each and every individual is busy with work and wishes to get over with assigned tasks as soon as possible. Same is the case with cryptocurrency users. However, that is what leads to a fraud and privacy threat.
In case of phishing, people tend to go to online websites and enter their cryptocurrency wallets details and password. This may seem like the necessity at times to access certain websites. But, this must be avoided at all costs. There are several websites with similar content and you too must look for alternatives instead of falling for one’s trap. Never enter your wallet address and password anywhere. In fact, what worsens the situation is that there is no authority that you can complain to because this does not work on the basis of any government of central bank. Blockchain is a whole new system in its own and there is no one to take charge here in the cyber world of cryptocurrency.
You must have heard of social media accounts being hacked and fake IDs being created. In fact, not only heard but I’m also sure that a lot of you or your friends must have experienced it and gone through a tiring experience of letting others know that it was not you who sent the messages or status updates. Well, a similar thing happens in case of cryptocurrency. However, the main point of difference here is that you have no one to complain to. In fact, since there are no chargeback possibilities in the world of cryptocurrency dealings even in dispute cases of online betting, you cannot get back the sent currency either. Of course there is the exception of the recipient sending it back to you but that too seems difficult since you have no details of the recipient, what so ever. There is a great privacy threat to cryptocurrency because of hackers that reside all over the world. Skilled hackers hack into the software and devices of top companies so your cryptocurrency wallet can be an easily achieved target. Hackers can transfer money to their wallets from yours and then immediately replace the payee. You will not even realize when this will happen and may lose out of a chuck of your cryptocurrency earnings. Though there are several ways of protecting yourself against these skilled hackers, not everyone knows the internal tricks of the trade. This is what leads to hackers successfully withdrawing money from your wallets and leading to huge scams. The most difficult aspect of this is that you won’t know who to complain to or who to catch hold of. And getting an expert’s help is another tedious story altogether.
ERROR IN THE USER’S ADDRESS
As stated earlier, cryptocurrency dealings do not require you to out in any debit card or credit card details of yours or anyone else’s. This is a pro of cryptocurrency. While traditional banking systems work on the push mechanism of pushing out your basic details in the process of debiting to merchants, the exact opposite happens in case of cryptocurrency. In case of cryptocurrency, it usually happens that the system works on a pull mechanism. This means that only the relevant and limited details are pulled out in order to transfer the amount to the wallet of the recipient that is entered by you. But, here’s exactly where the catch is. It often happens that you may make errors while entering the wallet address. But, a transaction once started cannot be stopped or reversed in cryptocurrency dealings. The transfer is actually successful within a span of few seconds to minutes and the feature of no chargebacks makes it impossible for you to get back the money that you have willing just sent to an incorrect wallet address. Often everyone is busy with their work and multi-tasking is the demand of the 21st century. However, this is what leads to increased chances of privacy threats in cryptocurrency. Thus, it is recommended by not only us but everyone around that you must always double check the wallet address that you are entering. This may take up a few seconds extra but is actually quite helpful and useful in the long run.
LOSS OF A WALLET FILE
This may sound impossible to you since you might be wondering that how can an entire wallet be lost. But, that’s where you are beaten by hackers and those who wish to make use of your wallet for their benefits. It is a widely known fact that most users store their wallet and wallet details on their computers and laptops. This means that it can be hacked into using malware. Also, it is often experienced that is a malware attack is not the cause of this loss of wallet file, then it is the crash of a hard disk. If your hard disk crashes at any time and you do not have pre-determined back up, then you will obviously automatically lose out on all your data that was stored in it in the first place. This is why this is a great privacy threat in dealing with and depending too much on technology such as cryptocurrency.
Onion routing is a technique for establishing communication over a computer or laptop device and network. But what sets it apart from the others interactions is that onion routing is anonymous. This means that I may be having access to your computer network but you will not be be knowing that it is me who is making use of your device. This is very challenging and troublesome for the users of cryptocurrency or digital currency. In the case of an onion network, it is ensured that the messages are concealed in a thick and dense grid of encryption. This is the same technology on the basis of which cryptocurrency works.
Now, you must be wondering that how is this data transmitted from one system to the other if it is anonymous and the address of the sender is not known. Well, the catch is that it works on the basis of several inter related and inter connected network nodes that are known as onion routers. Each onion router is said to peel away in layers as and when the data is moved from one stage to the other and finally one system to another. This means that as the last layer finally peels away, it is understood that the message must have reached its end stage or destination, as it is called in technical terms. However, just like every cloud has a silver lining, onion routing can also be fought back owing to the excellence of top class techniques such as timing analysis, to name the best one.
Time analysis means that though your visit to websites are often kept secure, the fact that you were on the website is recorded. This also records the time of your visit and that you had indeed established a relation with the given site. This is what is one of the greatest weaknesses of onion routing. If luck favours you, you will easily be able to track the anonymous connection that had tried to use your device and wallet details as well as your wallet.
NATIONAL SECURITY AGENCY
Well, it may come as a huge surprise to you that a top notch and respected body like the National Security Agency (NSA) has been known to leak the information of Bitcoin users. Well, if you cannot believe it, then you must read ahead to find out that what exactly happened and whether this accusation on a national body really holds ground or it is just an act of malice.
So, what actually happened was that there was a huge buzz and frenzy that the National Security agency (NSA) had spied on Bitcoin users and leaked valuable details about them. These details pertained to their personal information and specifics of their cryptocurrency wallets. According to reports and statements released and made public by Edward Snowden, NSA reportedly monitors all your activities on the cryptocurrency platform and uses them to keep an eye on you. This is what enables them to make you their prey and you won’t even realize it due to the skilled nature of their task. National Security Agency uses information such as your cryptocurrency wallet address and your password. Thus, this is what makes you vulnerable and available for frauds.
It is said that the National Security Agency was able to successfully make this breach of privacy due to the presence and use of covert programs which harvested, deeply studied and examined, and processed internet traffic from all around the world on a really large scale. What may take you by surprise even more is the fact that the National Security Agency is suspected of having been engaged in this act for several years now. It is said to have several top class programs in its possession that helps to carry out this task.
This was the name of the VPN-like service that was employed by the National Security Agency to get hold of valuable user data. Yeah, it sounded like a cool thing when you read the name but that is not the fact. However, all that glitters is not gold, just like National Security Agency which was earlier trusted, actually broke your trust by trying to maintain access to your digital currency. This is a great threat to the privacy of all digital currency all-round the globe. Monkey Rocket was actually a sub-program of an even larger and more reaching program that was called and referred to as OAKSTAR. OAKSTAR was a indeed a concealed and hidden internet surveillance program which allowed the agency to gauge and intercept interactions from underlying fibre optic connections which create the basis of world-wide internet. Internet is literally no longer a privilege for a select few but actually the necessity of the hour which has gotten everyone hooked onto it. While it has its benefits, it has disadvantages as well that cannot be overlooked or neglected or ignored at any cost, under any circumstances. The covert operation was carried out in collaboration with several top corporates. Monkey Rocket simply worked as a deception to Bitcoin users by leading them to accept that it somehow helped to improve the factor of anonymity and privacy while engaging with online sites and other users. Following the aforesaid, the data gathered was shared and processed through the servers of the National Security Agency who studied it further and made note of important key areas and points. Initially, it was seen that the program tried to access only limited information which pertained to that of Bitcoin’s blockchain services. However, it was later noted to try and gather intimate data as well about the life of the users, be it personal or professional. Now, I’m sure you can wonder how dangerous that is. If you still do not get it, then imagine a situation where there is someone who is spying on you at all times and has all details about you such as your place of work, residential address, personal life and relations, as well the password to your social media sites and electronic wallets. Yes, that’s how creepy and scary it is. The same was done by the National Security Agency who tried to gain control over every aspect of the life of the Bitcoin user. All the achieved data was assembled and kept in a file that was known as Provider user full.csv. The files by the National Security Agency elaborate on then Monkey Rocket system as a non-westernised service to ensure internet anonymity in the battle to counter terrorism. What is noteworthy is the fact that it indeed not only spoke but actually did. By thus, I mean that it collected data from all over the globe from across countries and continents such as Asia, the Middle East, Europe and South America respectively. Further, it was said that it had a major chunk o users from Iran and China. The objective of the National Security Agency was to lure users who were caught up in the traps of terrorism to use the goods and services extended by the National Security Agency. This would apparently help the National Security Agency to monitor the links between the terrorists and thus enable the agency to stay ahead of them and counter all their attacks as well as ruin all their plans.
Casting a Wide Net
The National Security Agency cast a wide net and what’s shocking is that Bitcoin users were not the only targets. The other major aim and objective was Liberty Reserve. Liberty Reserve is a predecessor of Bitcoin. As per the Intercept, Liberty Reserve was mainly designed and thought of in order to provide finance and constant funds for criminal activities. The Costa Rica-based currency was shut and discontinued in 2013. However, that doesn’t mean that the National Security Agency’s role was also revealed at that time. It must be pointed out here itself that at that time, it has been successful in remaining under wraps.
Now, today is a time when there are so many concerns being raised and voiced from all over the globe regarding the safety of cryptocurrencies and all those who use it. Such acts by national bodies such as the National Security Agency are bound to create panic amongst all cryptocurrency investors and users. In fact, this must also be viewed from the viewpoint of national security of other nations. The National Security Agency pulls out all personal information as well of citizens from different countries. Thus, other nations too feel that their safety, security and national policies are at risk.
GOVERNMENT FORMED CRYPTOCURRENCY
Well, you may have already heard about issues with cryptocurrency. This is not just on a personal level, but also a national level. By this, I mean that there are so many countries where cryptocurrency is not accepted as a legal form of currency transaction. This means that in certain nations, your cryptocurrency money holds no grounds. Thus, you cannot use cryptocurrency to avail of local services and products. This may seem unfair to a chunk of the mass who wishes to reap the benefits of cryptocurrency. However, just like every coin has two sides to it, it must be noted that this step too is for the well-being of the masses. You must be wondering how? Well, cryptocurrency comes with its own set of cons as well. Though there are pros, the cons of cryptocurrency are too dangerous and cannot be risked. The government realises that in case of any mishaps, they are the ones to be blamed and held responsible. Thus, they wish to avoid chaos at all costs. Besides this one main reason, the government of every country realizes this as well that cryptocurrency users can easily be tracked. Thus, there is no chance that the national security of the nation can be risked or put at stake under any circumstances.
However, having said all of this, the government too is no fool to not realize the actual benefits of cryptocurrency. Also, it does understand that there is an uprising and demand for the technology to be put into action immediately all over the world. Yes, the masses often do tend to fail in identifying the risks of cryptocurrency. This is what has to led to the huge success and adoption of cryptocurrency platforms such as Bitcoin all over the world. In order to combat this revolution of the public, the government of countries is now thinking of starting off with their very own and personally designed and launched cryptocurrency platform. A classic example to explain this better would be in Asia India’s attempt of paving the way for Lakshmi. Lakshmi in the literal sense translates to money in Hindi, which is also somewhat accepted as the national language of the Indian subcontinent. Though, that debate it totally different and off topic in this case.
Coming back to Lakshmi, the Reserve Bank of India has already assembled a team of experts in finance and technology to gauge and try to implement the nation’s own cryptocurrency medium. This will be historic if it is actually developed and put into use. However, there is certainly debate if it will at all be like other digital currency portals since basic features such as lack of third party involvement and no influence of exchange rates and anonymity will be gravely challenged. In fact, another hard hitting point to be noted here is that the government may implement taxes on this cryptocurrency as well and defeat the entire purpose of going digital for money transfers and transactions. It will be interesting to note which other nations comes up with this and how it ends up functioning in the long run. Theoretical explanations are easier than practical implementations.
TIPS FOR CRYPTOCURRENCY HOLDERS AND CRYPTO INVESTORS
Read ahead to find certain quick tips on how to be careful and safeguard yourself against all privacy threats of cryptocurrency. This is imperative because the risk of cryptocurrency frauds is at an all-time high. This is true of anything which is gaining rapidly popularity. Those who wish to engage in fraudulent acts are on the lookout for such opportunities. However, though you may not be hundred percent sure of your safety, you must ensure that you take necessary steps from your side. That’s the best you can do. Now, without making you wait much, I would urge you to read ahead to see how you can protect yourself and continue using cryptocurrency platforms to your advantage. Please note that these are merely recommendations and it is upto you if you follow them. Also, these do not mean that you will be out of the radar of frauds. You need to be careful at all times.
1. You must ensure that you always verify the address of the wallet that you receive. You must avoid online links to internet banking.
2. The second most important thing to do is to double check the address of the wallet. As stated earlier in this article itself, malware is often there to alter the electronic wallet address that is entered by you. Though you may think that it is time consuming, investing a few extra seconds is way more important than losing out on your digital currency. Remember, the transactions once clicked on, cannot be reversed due to the no chargebacks policy of cryptocurrency.
3. You must always keep a handy clue or hint that will help you to remember your wallet password. You may argue that you will never forget such a valuable piece of information. But remember the times when you told yourself that you do not need to make written notes because you’ll remember it mentally, and then totally forgot about it? Well, similar is the scenario here. Thus, you must make note of a hint. It is recommended that you do not directly note down the password because if it is obtained by someone else, then it can be more of a disadvantage and huge loss to you.
4. Do not fall for traps. This means that you must not be impulsive each time you see a cryptocurrency offer or deal. Learn to read between the lines. Remember, no one will extend an offer to you just for your benefit and their apparent loss. That’s not how the world works. You must understand that each party only desires their maximum profit at your cost. Thus, you must not reach hasty conclusions and go ahead with cryptocurrency investments in unknown projects. Remember, if your anonymity is useful to you, then someone else might misuse their anonymity as well. Often, these turn out to be hackers who try to make you fall for their trap and lead you to engage in transactions with them. This way, they are able to gain access over your system and find out all vital information about you, be it personal or related to you cryptocurrency wallet.
5. It must be noted that all times that no transaction is totally hundred percent safe and secure. This also means that there is no one to guarantee that you will surely make profits if you invest in a particular person or company. This totally depends on whether the investment is actually genuine and how the deal and further actions follow. It is a myth that every investment on the cryptocurrency platform is bound to reap great profits. I repeat, you must always be sensible while investing. Also, you must invest only to the extent that you can. Just like there is a fifty percent chance of profit and fifty percent chance of loss in business, similar is the case with cryptocurrency. Also, you must not be in a hurry to diversify or expand your base of actions and operations. Take time to think and act.
6. Always use cryptocurrency hardware wallets.
7. Lastly, it is your duty to regularly or periodically run anti-virus protection on your devices. This means that you must look out for high quality anti-virus systems that are bound to protect all your devices from malware. Often, people avoid installing anti-virus because it is paid. But what they forget is the fact that it must not be seen as expenditure but investment. It helps to protect your system from all corrupt attacks and malware. This small step can go a long way. In fact, it must also be noted that at times, this anti-virus may take time to install. However, you must be patient and wait for it to be successful.
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