Today is International Data Privacy Day — a day focused on raising awareness around data privacy best practices. Data privacy is an important aspect of Bitcoin and some other altcoins, and as such, we’re celebrating Data Privacy day with a list of best practices for crypto users.
Cypherpunks: Remembering Satoshi, Finney, And The Fight For Privacy
Bitcoin was built with privacy in mind. Satoshi Nakamoto was a cypherpunk, defined by Wikipedia as “any individual advocating widespread use of strong cryptography and privacy-enhancing technologies as a route to social and political change.”
Hal Finney who received the first ever BTC transaction directly from Nakamoto was also a cypherpunk, in his career working as the lead developer for PGP Corporation. PGP stands for Pretty Good Privacy.
Since Bitcoin’s inception, other cryptocurrencies have since been created with a much greater focus on privacy. Monero, for example, can obfuscate transaction details such as sender and receiver — making transactions virtually untraceable.
But while these stories explain why privacy is part of the core of crypto, it isn’t exactly the data privacy best practices Data Privacy Day is all about, which we’ll get into next.
Data Privacy Day Best Practices For Bitcoin And Crypto Holders
Data leaks come not only from computers and smartphones, but often straight from the source: yourself. Simple advice such as “don’t ever disclose to others how much crypto assets you hold” is an important one to follow. Braggarts become easy targets. Modesty is majesty.
Next, be certain to keep your data locked away behind strong passwords, consisting of special characters, numbers, and both upper and lower case letters. Avoid exclamation points as your only chosen character or 1s or 9s as the only number. If that sounds familiar, change your password after reading this. Using a password manager like LastPass can help those that don’t want to take the extra steps themselves or forget to be more careful.
Always check websites, email addresses, DMs and more to ensure that you aren’t entering any personal or sensitive information into the data fields of a phishing scam. Only provide information to official sources, and official sources usually don’t request this information again once they have it. An email asking for such information is possibly a sign of a scam.
Related Reading | The Most Common Bitcoin Scams And How To Avoid Them
Immediately switch to two-factor authentication through Google Authenticator or through a physical two-factor device. Ledger hardware wallets double as a physical FIDO U2F device. SMS (text message) based two-factor leaves users vulnerable to SIM-swap attacks.
Move the bulk of assets like Bitcoin and Ethereum to cold storage through a hardware wallet like a Ledger. Leave only what you plan on trading, spending, or staking in wallets on exchanges or other platforms that are connected to the web. Any client-based wallets should always have the software updated to the latest version to avoid any potential for loss.
Last but not least, limit what you expose via social media for personal information. Information like phone numbers, birthdays, and more are all over social media and elsewhere, which can be used to impersonate you in an attempt to obtain additional data or assets.
Believe it or not, these are only the most basic tactics. Hardcore privacy or security buffs use air-gapped laptops running Linux to access crypto assets in a strict and safe environment. Any effort in data privacy protection goes a long way in preventing risk of your data ending up into the wrong hands — which could result in the data allowing thieves to access your assets.