How to keep my funds safe
There are many different wallets you can choose from to store your cryptocurrency (see our overview here), but whichever wallet you choose, you want to make sure you keep your funds safe.
These are the basic safety rules you should follow for your cryptocurrency, no matter what wallet you use.
- Set passwords or pin-locks on your phone and computer so that no one else can access your devices
- Keep your computer clean and free of malware. Be careful about what sites you visit and what software you download
- Back up your wallet(s) - this will mean that you can still access your funds should your computer die or your phone be stolen
- Use a password manager to store your passwords, passphrases, and backups
- Use a hardware wallet for added security, especially if you are storing larger amounts of crypto.
Sounds simple enough, right? Now, let's run through those again, in a bit more detail...
1. Set passwords
Your cryptocurrencies will only ever be as safe as the device you store them on, so if you have a wallet on your phone or on your computer, make sure you have a pin lock or password set.
You should also set a different pin/password for your wallets and crypto apps as well.
2. Keep your computer clean
This is going to be a long list of don'ts, but they are very important, so please read on!
But first, a do: Do install a good anti-virus program. This is not going to be an 100% foolproof solution so you do need to also be vigilant (see the list of don'ts below) but it's an important first step.
See a rundown of the best anti-virus software on PC Mag's review here.
Now for the don'ts...
- Don't download pirated movies, music, or other material - this is a super common way to get malware on your computer!
- Don't visit dodgy websites - be wary of the links you click, and if you're in doubt, do a Google/Bing search for the website to make sure you're visiting the official site.
- Don't click links in emails or sent them to you on messaging applications. It's always safest to visit the website and then search for what you need.
- Don't open attachments on emails unless you were expecting them. If a friend sends you something you weren't expecting, it may be that they have downloaded a virus that is now trying to spread to your computer! Call or message your mate before you open any attachments if you're not sure.
- Don't ever install software unless you're sure you know what it is and it's from an official and trusted source.
- Don't ever allow someone to access your computer view TeamViewer/ AnyDesk or any other computer sharing software. Having a Skype or Zoom call where you share your screen is safe, but don't ever allow someone else to take control of your computer.
3. Back up your wallets
No matter what wallet you use, you need to back it up. A backup means that should your wallet be destroyed (say if you drop your phone in the loo, or your computer fries itself) you can still access your funds.
Each wallet will have a different backup process, but the end result will usually be a passphrase (also called a "recovery seed" or "backup phrase"), which is a list of 12 or 24 random words that will allow you to reinstall your own wallet should you lose access to the original.
Here are some links to back up instructions for the most popular wallets:
Once you have your backup, make sure you store it safely in your password manager, which handily enough is the next step!
4. Use a password manager
We all know that we should NEVER use the same password on more than one website and that it's best to use strong passwords that include random numbers and characters. Obviously, using a unique and complex password for each site would be quite a mental feat to remember - which is where password managers come in :)
- Keepass is a free option for Windows. We like Keepass because it's open-source (which means anyone can check that the code is safe). We have a guide to setting it up here.
- LastPass is a popular password manager with both free and paid options
- The team over at Exodus recommends 1Password. It's a paid option, but good security is probably worth shelling out for.
- Dashlane is also another paid option.
- If you're using Mac, there is an inbuilt Keychain feature. However, be aware this is only as safe as your security on your Apple device.
To compare and contrast across these options (and more!) check out this article from PC Mag about the top password managers for 2020.
5. Use a hardware wallet
Hardware wallets are the gold standard in crypto security and we highly recommend them to all our customers - especially if you're storing an amount that you would consider valuable and worth protecting. There are a number of hardware wallets out there:
- Trezor- we use Trezor paired with the Exodus hot wallet, and highly recommend this combo for both security and ease of use. Make sure you set a passphrase if you use Trezor.
- Ledger- this is probably the most popular wallet on the market, and you can use it with you mobile which is handy for crypto-on-the-go
- Ellipal - a highly secure option, the Ellipal is "air-gapped" meaning it never connects directly to the internet. Fund transfers are managed via the Ellipal app on your mobile
- Keepkey - an option from the team at Shapeshift, with a wide range of coins supported
Our NZ site sells the Trezor and Ledger wallets - you can pick one up at our store here.
Note that we have personally tried Trezor and Ledger, but we don't know much about the others. With everything in this article, we can't guarantee any third-party provider and we recommend that you do your own research.
Whichever option you use, make sure you back up your hardware wallet (see #3) and store your backups somewhere very secure (see #4)
With cryptocurrency, you are your own bank. This is incredibly powerful as it means you are in full control of your funds and no one else has access to them. This also puts a lot of responsibility on to you, to make sure our funds are securely protected and accessible no matter what happens.
The steps above are, in our view, sufficient to keep your crypto secure and accessible. For a more in-depth look at all the security components you might want to consider, Exodus have an excellent write up here. Well worth a read once you've got your head around the 5 steps above.
Please also read this article to ensure you are across the potential scams out there.