Privacy Is Paramount: 5 Tips to Keep Prying Eyes Away from Your Coins
One of the founding principles upon which cryptocurrency was founded is privacy. If your coins aren't private, then what's the point of using a cryptocurrency? To many people in the industry, this means on-chain privacy and that might have been true at the very beginning of Bitcoin and blockchain, but that has changed.
The vast majority of your cryptocurrency privacy comes off-chain, and you need to police it as much as you track your own movements on the web. Some have likened keeping yourself private to keeping yourself in shape. You don't flip a switch and become fit or buff.
You need to work at it consistently. You need to work every day to keep yourself healthy. Privacy, like a muscle, is something that needs everyday exercise on the part of the user.
Your email, your IP address, and your mobile phone number are all off-chain data points that can be leveraged against you if you use cryptocurrency without working on and exercising your privacy muscles. So how do you go about making your crypto dealings more private?
Tip 1: Always use a VPN
We have come a long way since the early days of VPNs. They no longer require difficult and protracted set up times. They no longer require an arcane knowledge of the inner workings of your OS' networking functions.
They work like many other apps. You install, you register, you click a few times and presto! You've set yourself up to browse securely on an encrypted line between you and your VPN provider. This will help mask your actions online when using Bitcoin (or any other non-anonymous coin).
Opera, the little browser that has been surviving in a market where giants have been battling it out, says that “enhanced online privacy is a right for everyone” and they are completely right. So much so that they offer a built-in VPN with their browser.
Tip 2: Keep Keys and Codes Offline
Your 2FA codes and crypto keys for both trading accounts and crypto wallets should be taken offline. Completely offline. Some people seem to think that “offline” means not putting them somewhere on the cloud. That's not true.
If your 2FA codes and keys are on a plain text file on your computer in a “randomly named” directory, they are still at a high risk of being stolen by the wide variety of malicious malware that is getting smarter and more sophisticated every day.
Keep your codes and keys written down on durable media, all of them separate and hidden in safe places. This is the only way to make sure that no one but you has access to those accounts. As many in the cybersecurity world are wont to say… Privacy and security take time, but it's time well spent.
Tip 3: Use a separate email acocunt for crypto
Using the same email address for everything is dangerous. It opens you up to more methods of attack than ever before. So putting your crypto accounts and trading accounts on the same email where you receive family holiday pictures, where you registered your iCloud account and you have a PlayStation store (both services notorious for having been very easily breached) is a pretty bad idea.
You normal, everyday account has a higher chance of being breached than an account where you will always be wary of possible intrusions. An account that you will not use as much as your everyday account for obvious reasons.
Having separate email accounts for everything is difficult, but having one for valuables like crypto that is “hidden” and private is simply the smart thing to do.
Tip 4: Shuffle Coins Often
News media and law enforcement agencies might have made people think that coin mixers are only used by shady criminals. That's not correct. Bitcoin would become a lot more fungible if more people ran their coins through tumblers before placing them on their wallets.
If you don't particularly care about the greater good, do it for yourself. It's always good to have a nice stash of coin that is not linked to your identity and can be used without having to be worried about someone finding you.
Tip 5: Don't reuse addresses
There is no reason to reuse a Bitcoin address. Create a new one for each transaction as it's free and instant, and even more importantly, provides an immediate increase in the privacy of those coins. There are quite a lot of services that allow you to do that, so make use of them.