Now that hungry mouths have demolished the Thanksgiving turkey, we can turn our attention to the holiday season’s next big event.
Cyber Monday is the delight of digital bargain hunters worldwide, but the unweary crypto enthusiast risks losing everything if they’re not careful.
You see, amongst the ludicrous Cyber Monday deals, there’s no shortage of dastardly villains on a separate hunt. While you’re scoping out the best Cyber Monday coupons or Black Friday deals, crypto scammers are taking advantage of the frenzy as well.
Why do blockchain bandits target Cyber Monday, and what can we do to protect our digital assets this year?
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Black Friday & Cyber Monday Security
Both Black Friday and Cyber Monday are infamous for anarchistic, frenzied stores. Retailers slash their places to yearly lows in the hope of clearing out old stock ahead of the Christmas period, drawing shoppers in their millions.
Black Friday’s chaos is obvious, brawls in shopping malls and emptied shelves are commonplace. While Cyber Monday might seem calm and breezy from the comfort of your home, websites, and servers are known to crash under the immense influx of shoppers.
Amid this shopping spree, the chaos and excitement can often lead to a lapse in our usual vigilance. High adrenaline and hurried clicks make us careless, meaning our cyber defenses are at their most vulnerable.
Racing against time and each other to grab limited-time offers, our attention is diverted. We’re likelier to miss the red flags we normally catch on a less hectic day.
Phishing emails cleverly disguised as incredible deals, fake websites mimicking legitimate retailers, and too-good-to-be-true offers can slip through the cracks more easily than any other day of the year.
The FOMO-fuelled rush to the checkout and the sheer volume of transactions made in this short window create the perfect storm for cybercriminals. They bank on the fact that in the haste to lock down deals, people are less likely to double-check the URLs, scrutinize the authenticity of the shopping portals, or question the security of their payment methods.
Cyber Monday Security Tips
Growing cryptocurrency adoption has meant that more businesses are accepting crypto payment gift cards and offering crypto deals more than ever before. For example, Cyber Monday sales have encouraged cryptocurrency exchanges to offer generous exclusive offers like reduced trading fees and juicy sign-up bonuses.
While this is exciting for the blockchain industry, it’s important to remember that not all that glitters is gold. Every year, hundreds of fake websites and dodgy phishing links are deployed ahead of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, designed to extract your Bitcoin (BTC), Ethereum (ETH), or whatever else you’ve got tucked away in your crypto wallet.
This Cyber Monday, remember these five tips and safeguard your wealth while online shopping.
1. Use a Hardware Wallet
Sometimes called a cold storage wallet, a hardware wallet is the highest level of security you can give to your cryptocurrency. Hardware wallets store your private keys offline, giving you an extra layer of security that software wallets cannot match.
If you accidentally click on a dangerous phishing link or pick up a virus while browsing, any crypto stored in a hardware wallet like a Ledger Nano S Plus or Trezor will be untouchable.
By transferring your crypto assets to a hardware wallet before diving into the day’s deals, you ensure that your funds are not exposed, even if a scammer manages to infiltrate your computer.
If you don’t already have a hardware wallet, Cyber Monday is the perfect opportunity to get one!
2. Official Sites Only
Scammers won’t hesitate to create counterfeit websites that mimic the look and feel of legitimate platforms like Binance or Coinbase. These fake sites can be almost indistinguishable from the real, with authentic-looking logos, convincing URLs, and interfaces that mirror trusted retailers or crypto exchanges.
To ensure you’re not duped into a false transaction, always use the official websites of the retailer or trading platform. Bookmark these sites in advance, and only follow links from verified social media accounts.
Be skeptical of links in emails or social media, no matter how legitimate they may seem. Phishing attempts often use these channels to direct you to their traps.
When it comes to crypto exchanges or wallet providers, the same rule applies. Access these services through their official websites or apps. You’ll never forgive yourself if you lost all your Cardano (ADA) or Bitcoin Cash (BCH) because you clicked a phishing link from the b1nance crypto trading platform.
Before entering any sensitive information or initiating a transaction, verify the website’s security by checking for ‘https’ in the URL and the presence of a padlock icon, indicating that the connection is secure.
3. Be Wary of Impersonators
It shouldn’t need to be said, but every year, dozens of people fall for lousy impersonators on social media or crypto YouTube. I hate to burst your bubble, but Elon Musk isn’t sending you a personal invitation to a private Cyber Monday Tesla sale.
To guard against these tricksters, always be skeptical of unsolicited messages or emails. Legitimate companies rarely ask for personal information or payment details via social media or email. Ignore and block anyone asking for your credit card info or wallet details.
When dealing with customer service, use the contact information provided on the official website rather than the numbers or emails provided in unsolicited messages. If you’re approached by someone claiming to be from a reputable company, verify their identity by contacting the company directly through official channels.
Common sense is your best defense here. If it seems strange that Vitalik Buterin is in your DMs asking you to send him some ETH, it probably is. Ignore it, block the account, and return to your Cyber Monday shopping.
4. Back Up Your Seed Phrase Properly
Your seed phrase, also known as a recovery phrase, is the master key to your cryptocurrency wallet. It’s a unique combination of words that grants you access to your crypto assets. If it falls into the wrong hands, you’ll lose everything.
If you’ve backed up your seed phrase electronically, I have some bad news for you. The chaos and calamity that come with Cyber Monday is the perfect opportunity for cybercriminals to slide some malware onto your device through a dodgy link or file.
Malware can stealthily infiltrate your devices and extract stored seed phrases, leading to unauthorized access to your crypto funds. Modern viruses and malware can evade even the most efficient anti-virus programs, especially during high-traffic periods when attackers are most active.
Fortunately, a compromised seed phrase is easily preventable. Backing up your seed phrase onto stainless steel plates is the safest way to safeguard your cryptocurrency. Products like CVER Steel are fireproof, waterproof, and virtually indestructible.
By engraving your seed phrase on a steel plate, you create a durable, offline backup that cannot be hacked or electronically compromised
5. Update 2FA on Crypto Exchanges
This final tip doesn’t apply directly to Cyber Monday itself. However, it’s worth making it a part of your regular crypto security checks.
Two-factor authentication (2FA) acts as a second line of defense for your crypto exchange accounts. It’s an additional security layer that protects your account even if your password is compromised.
Most people rely on SMS-based 2FA, which, while better than no 2FA at all, has vulnerabilities. SMS messages can be intercepted by determined hackers using techniques like SIM swapping.
A more secure method is to use an authenticator app that generates time-sensitive codes, which are almost impossible to intercept remotely.
Before the Cyber Monday rush, take the time to review your 2FA methods on all crypto exchanges and related services. If you’re using SMS-based authentication, consider switching to an app like Google Authenticator or Authy.
Cyber Monday Crypto Pros and Cons
Cyber Monday presents a unique set of opportunities and challenges for crypto enthusiasts. You can find great deals on all kinds of products now available to buy with cryptocurrency. That being said, Cyber Monday can be a cybersecurity minefield if you’re not properly prepared.
Let’s review the pros and cons of Cyber Monday in the crypto space.
- Accessibility of Deals – With the growing acceptance of cryptocurrencies, many online retailers and platforms offer exclusive promos that can be accessed using digital currencies.
- Anonymity – For those who value privacy, cryptocurrency can provide a more anonymous way to shop, as it doesn’t require divulging personal banking information online.
- Crypto Bonuses – Some platforms offer sign-up bonuses or additional rewards for using cryptocurrency on Cyber Monday, which can enhance the overall value of your purchases.
- Irreversible Transactions – Unlike credit card payments, crypto transactions are irreversible. If you fall victim to a scam or make a mistake, getting your funds back is almost impossible.
- Security Risks – Cyber Monday is a prime time for hackers and scammers. Engaging in transactions with crypto requires heightened vigilance to avoid phishing scams, fraudulent websites, and other security threats.
On the Flipside
- This might come as a surprise, but there’s no flipside to this argument. Unlike the President’s turkey, cybercriminals and crypto scammers don’t deserve a pardon this holiday season.
Why This Matters
Cyber Monday is a great opportunity to find great deals, but it’s also a great opportunity for scammers and hackers to gain access to your wallet and steal your funds. These simple tips will help you protect your crypto assets on Cyber Monday and every other day of the year.
Generally speaking, Cyber Monday lasts 24 hours. However, some retailers are known to run sales all week.
Some retailers accept direct crypto payments on Cyber Monday. However, buying a crypto gift card will give you a far greater range of stores to choose from while still using cryptocurrency.
Crypto exchanges and blockchain-based products may offer deals, promos, and discounts on Cyber Monday. Please check with individual retailers.