Bitcoin Security: Tips for Buying Crypto Safely

Security Jul 01, 2020

Some of the most common questions from people starting out with cryptocurrencies have to do with how to safely invest in Bitcoin or an altcoin. Usually these questions are asking for information about crypto investing strategies or "stock picks" for wise investments in the digital currency market. But the matter of safety and security can also be taken very literally—after all, nearly every activity involving any amount of money can be ripe for fraud, theft, or even violence. So Invity wants to answer the question of "Is Bitcoin safe?" with an emphatic yes—but only if you follow our tips for the safest ways to buy Bitcoin or any other virtual currency. From choosing the safest crypto wallet to making transactions on the most secure crypto exchanges, our tips will help you take your privacy seriously and protect your financial well-being.

The first rule of crypto: don't talk about crypto

The world of crypto is usually much more chill than Fight Club, but there's one thing both communities feel strongly about: keeping things on the down-low. It's common sense but often forgotten: talking about money, virtual or otherwise, makes those funds a target. You wouldn't announce that the wallet in your back pocket is stuffed with hundred-dollar bills, so you also shouldn't announce how your crypto wallet may be holding much more than that in digital assets. Unfortunately, this advice might work best when applied quite broadly: more than one Invity team member has heard stories of, for example, romantic relationships going south and bitcoins disappearing along with them.

Keep your private key private

There may actually be a tie for the first rule of crypto, because being the only person in control of your crypto is as important as not revealing that you have crypto in the first place. Having control over your crypto comes down to one very simple phrase: not your keys, not your coins. This means keeping your private key, well, private by following a few inviolable rules.

  • Never share your private key or recovery seed with anyone or put them at risk of hacking. This means never putting them online (even in "private" cloud storage), never taking a photo of them, never even typing them into a document on your computer.
  • Only record your recovery seed on a physical medium like a laminated piece of paper or an engraved metal plate. Keep this seed safe from fire and water damage in a place only you can access (so a safe deposit box may not be the best option). For even more seed tips, this article is really great.
An example mnemonic phrase written on paper. Don't send bitcoins to this address and laminate your paper!
An example mnemonic phrase written on paper by Belcher, licensed under CC0 1.0. Don't send bitcoins to this address!
  • Don't use an online wallet. There are plenty of safe crypto wallet alternatives; we recommend going with a fully offline hardware wallet like the Trezor Model T, which offers plenty of unique security features to protect against both online and offline thieves.

Keep your transactions private

Privacy is perhaps most important when you're actually performing the act of buying or exchanging crypto. Using public Wi-Fi is always a bit suspect since a third party could easily intercept your data, but using your local coffee shop is an especially big no-no for banking or crypto purposes. Instead, only buy crypto through a connection you trust, like at home or through a reliable VPN service.

Another security habit to get into is using two-factor authentication (2FA) whenever possible for your crypto-related profiles, including your wallet and accounts with exchange partners. This is essentially a second password that double-checks that you're the only person logging in to your accounts.

Be aware of your surroundings—online and off

The next set of crypto tips aren't particularly unique to crypto: basically, maintain situational awareness. Don't leave your hardware wallet lying around, don't leave your phone or computer unlocked, and make sure there are no prying eyes—friends, strangers, or cameras all included—when you're buying crypto or even just checking your account balance. And while getting to inbox zero may be a fool's errand, it's a good idea to sort out emails from crypto sites—account confirmations, transaction receipts, support tickets, and so on. Automatically send these messages to a special folder or create a separate, anonymous mailbox dedicated solely to crypto for a simple security step in case, say, a colleague takes a peek at your screen.

Highly public, heavily surveilled areas like airports are bad places to make crypto transactions.
Places like airports are not good places for buying crypto online! (Diana Digital Nomad Airport by Steven Swerink, licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.)

You should also be on the lookout for fishy deals. For example, if someone directs you to Invity for any reason other than to buy or exchange cryptocurrencies or if they request that you use an address that isn't under your direct control, hit the brakes—it's not legitimate. Also make sure you know how crypto transactions work (reading our blog is a great start!) and if something feels off, go with your gut and don't complete the transaction. This advice goes for any financial dealings, of course, but it's especially important due to the decentralized nature of crypto, which can be a double-edged sword. While crypto's lack of supervisory authority means you have more control over your finances, it also means that regulations are often limited and consumers have little or no recourse in the event of a scam—once your coins are gone, they're gone.

This is where Invity excels: we carefully vet our purchase and exchange providers to make sure they provide unparalleled fraud protections as well as higher-than-average levels of support in the off chance that something goes wrong.

Be aware of markets and your own limits

The broadest piece of advice regarding how to buy Bitcoin safely is to do so within your limits. It's the classic investing maxim: don't invest more than you're willing to lose. The fact is that crypto markets can be quite volatile, and all the safety tips in the world won't mean anything if the coin at the center of this ecosystem isn't worth much at all. So keep your eye on the markets, educate yourself, and be okay with calling it quits if you need to.

If you follow these basic crypto security tips, you can feel confident that you and your funds will be safe in the overwhelming majority of situations. Keep in mind that these tips are a minimum—there are always additional steps that can take your cryptocurrency privacy and safety to almost impenetrable levels. Unfortunately, these advanced tips will have to wait for another post. Until then, you can feel confident that Invity's Buy crypto and Exchange crypto features offer transactions with trusted, vetted providers for the most secure crypto comparison tool in the world of crypto!

Cover photo: Secure Bitcoins locked with padlock and chain by QuoteInspector.com, licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0.

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