What do crypto exchanges Mt. Gox, Cryptopia, Coincheck and Bitfinex have in common? They were all hacked, burning investors for millions of dollars. Even service outages or slowdowns caused by scheduled maintenance can spark fears of a hack, as happened with the Coinbene exchange earlier this year.
When crypto exchanges get hacked, the consequences can be disastrous. 2018 in particular was the year of the bitcoin heist, with an average of $2.7 million per day and $865 million overall stolen through hacks. 2018 also witnessed the largest crypto hack in history, as Coincheck confirmed its loss to be larger than the infamous attack on Mt. Gox.
And up until recently, there hasn't been enough bitcoin insurance to go around. What’s a crypto investor to do?
Is bitcoin safe? Can bitcoin be hacked? Is there a way to stop playing bitcoin poker and remove the gamble crypto of hacks for investors? For those who are banking on bitcoin, options include:
Hot wallets are services (often provided by the crypto exchange itself) that store your crypto and private keys online. They make it easy to access, withdraw and spend your money when you need to, but are vulnerable to hackers. Common practice is to store only a small amount of money in your hot wallet, minimizing your risk exposure. Investors should do thorough research on the available hot wallet providers before selecting one, looking for their security policies, reputation, and track record against cyber threats.
Also known as cold storage, cold wallets work by keeping your crypto and private keys off of the internet entirely. They come in many forms - think anything from a QR code printed on paper to expensive, specialized thumb drives like the Ledger. Staying offline means they are extremely safe, but that also makes it difficult to access your coins when you need them. Cold wallets are best for storing large amounts of crypto that would be too large a risk for hot wallets.
Or, crypto investors can cut out the middleman and:
Trade crypto in an insured, regulated environment
Mainstream investors don’t worry about whether or not the stock exchange is going to be hacked, or how to get their money out when they need it. Traditional financial institutions make investing predictable, stable and safe for investors with established procedures and, above all, insurance. Federal deposit insurance covers money in everyday bank accounts, while private insurance covers money invested through brokers.
One such option is Blockstation, a Canadian fintech that has developed the first trading platform for digital assets like bitcoin and Ethereum for use by established players. The platform integrates with stock exchanges, regulators and brokers, as well as depositories who keep your assets safe in a multi-sig cold storage vault. Through Blockstation, investors have liquidity to trade and the ability to cash out with end-of-day settlement of all transactions.
So between cold wallets, hot wallets, tons of research, and insurance, which option to trade crypto and beat the hackers is best for you, and why? Let us know on social media using the hashtag #blockstation.