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How to store cryptocurrencies, keep funds safe, and spot scams

Given its growing popularity, experts at Avast have provided advice on how to store cryptocurrencies, keep funds safe, and spot scams.

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Photo by Executium from Unsplash.com

Avast, a global leader in digital security and privacy, has observed in the first six months of 2021 that cryptocurrency-focused phishing scams are more likely to appear in countries where cryptocurrency is rising in popularity.

Avast’s threat labs researchers have intercepted and protected users against a rise in crypto-related phishing sites since the start of the year, with the majority posing as legitimate custodial wallets. The rise of these sites is higher in countries where cryptocurrency adoption is most prevalent1. The United States, Brazil and Nigeria are the biggest targets for these crypto-scams, with notable levels of scams also in the UK, France, Russia and India. In this research, Avast Threat Labs monitored a selection of 37 samples. The global heatmap below shows where around the world users visited crypto-related phishing in the first six months of 2021:

Peter Kovac, senior researcher at Avast, said, “The crypto market is surging right now. Bitcoin has been given a boost following recent news from El Salvador that it will be recognized as legal tender in the country – with other countries in the region tipped to follow suit.”

“This surge in Bitcoin is having a knock-on effect across the wider crypto space and some analysts are even predicting that 2021 will be a record-breaking year for cryptocurrencies. However, as it has grown in popularity, it has also grown as a more lucrative target for hackers – and our researchers have found the levels of crypto-related scams are most prevalent in regions where cryptocurrencies are gaining popularity.”

Given its growing popularity, experts at Avast have provided advice on how to store cryptocurrencies, keep funds safe, and spot scams.

How to store cryptocurrency

There are several methods and crypto wallets that cryptocurrency owners can deploy to store their cryptocurrency. Each has its own advantages and potential security pitfalls.

Custodial wallets

With a custodial wallet, coins (cryptocurrencies) are managed by some other entity, like a cryptocurrency exchange such as Binance, or similar service. It works like a traditional bank account, where users can log in and manage their funds.

  • The advantages: The burden of securing funds is partially offloaded to the service provider, users have guarantees and insurance to a certain extent.
  • The risks: If the service goes bankrupt or is fraudulent it could lose some or all funds. If this happens, users are at the mercy of the service provider, and they may limit people’s access to their money.
  • Relevant threats: It’s vital that users view their crypto account like any other form of online banking, with the same threats and vulnerabilities facing it, without the same protections and insurances that they have with traditional banks. Phishing is one of the biggest threats facing custodial wallets, with fake websites impersonating exchanges and services designed to steal people’s credentials and funds popping up all the time.

Software wallets

Software wallets are applications that manage cryptocurrency owners’ private keys and allow them to make transactions directly.

  • The advantages: Software wallets are designed to be very convenient and easy to use. As a non-custodial wallet, people have complete control over their funds.
  • The risks: The device the software wallet is stored on will be the single point of failure. If a device with the app is hacked, stolen or even damaged, then the user could lose access to their funds forever. 
  • Relevant threats: Besides the physical risks, ransomware encrypting the device and data stored on it, and demanding a ransom payment to unlock said device and data, pose a major threat. Trojans spying on the user’s data, and backdoors letting intruders into the device, also pose a huge risk to software wallets.

Paper & brain wallets

These are the most simple solution but also the most error prone – simply having the private key written down or memorized.

  • The advantages: Put simply, the advantage is its simplicity, lack of cost and will not be susceptible to hacking or other computer threats.
  • The risks: If something happens to the paper such as damage or theft, or the user has a lapse in memory, they risk losing all of their funds. 
  • Relevant threats: There will be no backup in case of loss of paper or memory. Once it’s gone, it’s gone for good.

Hardware wallets

Hardware wallets are an actual separate device, such as a USB, that acts as the wallet. These wallets also come with a “recovery sheet” with the private key written on a piece of paper (or carved into steel to withstand fire and other forms of physical damage).

  • The advantages: Hardware wallets are especially designed to prevent hacking. Only very select, skilled individuals have shown the ability to crack a hardware wallet after having long-term physical access to it.
  • The risks: As with any physical device, losing it would be one of the biggest risks. However, providing a crypto owner is using it according to the best practices by having a secure safety pin/password, it is rather secure. While not necessarily a risk, hardware wallets can be expensive, with associated safekeeping costs.
  • Relevant threats: Providing a user follows best practices, the threats are minimal. Most hardware wallets require several checks before they allow people to send money. These happen on the device and private keys never leave that device.

How to keep cryptocurrency safe

Users should be wary of scams: Scams can come in many forms online, from “crypto giveaways by Elon Musk” to “we will invest your money for you with XYZ% gains every month”. If it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is.

Crypto owners should:

  • Watch out for unsolicited private messages: Whether that’s on WhatsApp/Telegram or any other social media forum, people should immediately block any unsolicited message that may be fraud. For example, if a message comes from an unknown number, or if it comes from a contact but is an unusual, and possibly urgent message coming from the contact, the contact’s phone might have been hacked. It is recommendable to reach out to a contact, for example via phone call, and verify if they really sent this message before taking any further action. Even if the message is unrelated to crypto, the intention can be phishing, to ultimately spy on the user’s data.
  • Be aware of mobile phishing: Hackers are increasingly targeting people on their mobile devices in order to steal crypto credentials. These social engineering attacks can come from anywhere on a mobile device, including texts, social media, third-party messaging platforms or email. Beyond phishing, malicious mobile apps are also on the rise that have the hidden ability to log keystrokes and spy the activity on people’s screens. To prevent mobile phishing attacks, users can use Avast Secure Browser, which offers an anti-phishing feature that blocks dangerous websites on Android devices. The browser’s anti-phishing feature also works on Windows and Mac devices.
  • Rely on services that use strong security measures: When choosing a custodial or software wallet, people should be assured to choose a provider that offers strong security measures including two-factor-authentication methods. For more security, there are also platforms that encourage the user to set up separate passwords to log in to the platform, and to do a transfer. People who want to stay entirely private may decide for a platform that does not require them to submit an ID, but oftentimes these platforms provide poor security measures. There are platforms that can offer this as they allow crypto trading only instead of trading with Fiat money such as Euro or US-Dollar, which is why they are not obliged to stick to anti-money laundering and know your customer (KYC) rules.
  • Install an antivirus: Crypto owners should ensure that they have strong antivirus protection across all of their devices. For example, many people will have an antivirus on their PC but not on their mobile devices or tablets – which is why malicious mobile phishing and malware campaigns have been so effective for hackers. Crypto accounts can be worth a very significant amount of money, so for users it’s essential to ensure robust internet security on any device on which crypto information is stored or from which accounts are accessed.

Strategies

5 Practical ways to keep your finances safer online

Kaspersky’s fresh data for Q2 2021 showed a 60% increase in mobile banking Trojan attacks blocked in the region versus same period last year.

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Photo by Blake Wisz from Unsplash.com

Kaspersky reveals its Q2 2021 mobile threat report for Southeast Asia (SEA) where it has monitored a 60% uptick in the number of attacks using malicious mobile bankers detected and blocked in the region. 

Mobile banking Trojans – or bankers – are used by cybercriminals to steal funds directly from mobile bank accounts. These malicious programs typically look like legitimate financial apps, but when a victim enters their security credentials to try to access their bank account, the attackers gain access to that private information.

Overall, since the beginning of 2021, Kaspersky products have foiled 708 incidents across six countries in SEA. This is already 50% of the total number of mobile bankers blocked in 2020 which was 1,408.

Indonesia and Vietnam logged the most number of incidents during the first half of the year. However, globally, the two countries are not among the top 10 countries affected by this threat. Vietnam is only 27th and Indonesia is 31st as of June this year.

The five countries with the most number of mobile banking Trojan detections in Q2 2021 are Russia, Japan, Turkey, Germany, and France.

*Mobile banking Trojans attacks detected from users of Kaspersky mobile security solutions in the country

While the number of mobile banking Trojan attacks in SEA remains low, 367 incidents from April to June 2021 versus 230 detections during the same period last year, the continuing pandemic continues to force users to start using mobile payment systems.

“We are almost at the second year of the pandemic which has fast tracked the mobile payment adoption in the region at a breakneck speed. During the beginning of this health crisis, our survey already showed that the majority of internet users here have shifted finance-related activities online, like shopping (64%) and banking (47%),” comments Yeo Siang Tiong, General Manager for Southeast Asia at Kaspersky.

The same survey revealed that seven in 10 (69%) are worried about conducting financial transactions online and 42% of the respondents admitted to being afraid about someone accessing their financial details through their devices.

In addition, another Kaspersky report titled “Making Sense of Our Place in the Digital Reputation Economy” discovered that the majority (76%) of 861 respondents from SEA confirmed their intent to keep their money-related data away from the internet. The sentiment is highest among Baby Boomers (85%), followed by Gen X (81%), and Millennials (75%).

“Clearly, there is an awareness about the threats present when we do banking and payment transactions through our mobile phones. But there is still a gap between knowing and acting on it. So to help users from SEA embrace the power of their smartphone and also keep their finances safe, we suggest some practical tips but also encourage everyone to please look into using security solutions as a safety net in case they accidentally clicked a malicious link or downloaded a rogue mobile banking application,” adds Yeo.

Here are some practical tips from Kaspersky which you can do to beef up your money’s safety online:

1. Get a temporary credit card

Cyber criminals have developed incredibly sophisticated techniques and malware that can sometimes thwart your best efforts for safe online shopping. As another level of security for safe online shopping, you can use a temporary credit card to make online purchases, in lieu of your regular credit card. Ask your credit card company if you can be issued a temporary credit card number.

Just remember to avoid using these types of credit cards for any purchases that require auto-renewal or regular payments.

If a temporary credit card is not possible, an alternative is to use a credit card with a low credit limit.

2. Dedicate a computer to online banking and shopping

If you have more than one computer, it may be wise to dedicate one for online banking and shopping only. By avoiding using the computer for any other Internet browsing, downloading, checking email, social networking, and other online activities, you effectively create a ‘clean’ computer that is totally free of computer viruses and any other infections. For added security for safe online shopping, install Google Chrome, with forced HTTPS. This ensures you are visiting only secure websites.

3. Use a dedicated email address

Create an email address that you will use only for online shopping. This will severely limit the amount of spam messages you receive and significantly reduce the risk of opening potentially malicious emails that are disguised as sales promotions or other notifications.

4. Manage and protect your online passwords

Using strong passwords and using a different password for each online account is one of the most important things you can do for safe online shopping. We know it can be difficult to remember so many different passwords, especially when they are composed of numerous letters, numbers, and special characters. But you can use a password manager to aid you in keeping strong passwords for multiple accounts.

5. Use a VPN

If you absolutely must shop online while using public Wi-Fi, first install a VPN (virtual private network). A VPN will encrypt all data that is transferred between your computer or mobile device and the VPN server, preventing hackers from hijacking and viewing any sensitive data you input.

In the Philippines, Kaspersky endpoint solutions like Kaspersky Total Security (KTS) that have a password manager and  VPN features is currently included in its 9.9 promos in Shopee and Lazada.  Filipino customers can enjoy up to 50% discount.

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Tech & Innovation

3 Things Canon introduced to improve your digital life

Whether for work or play, everyone can now enjoy a wide range of options from Canon, each one designed to fit today’s demanding digital needs. From cameras and projectors that will elevate your next digital project to innovative software that will simplify your ways of working, Canon has a solution for you. 

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“At Canon, we take pride in being an all-in-one solution provider, catering to the different needs of our customers. We are driven to continuously create and innovate, and at times like this, we pivot to adjust when customer needs change. It is our commitment to innovation that allows us to continuously delight people with products and services that fit their business or lifestyle,” said Kazuhiro Ozawa, Canon Marketing (Philippines), Inc., President & CEO. 

Expanding Creativity and Staying Connected with High Quality Video  

In this digital normal, livestreaming, virtual meetings, classes, and even social occasions like e-weddings, have become essential in everyday life. With the entire world streaming, it is important to have high quality videos that allow for people to stay connected and creative. That is why Canon has developed the EOS Webcam Utility, a free and easy-to-use feature on Canon cameras that turns your camera into a webcam. Take beautifully crisp, in-focus videos while on calls, or opt to defocus a distracting background with a natural and bandwidth-friendly bokeh. 

You can use the EOS Webcam Utility with the full-frame Canon EOS RP. The EOS R system, Canon’s celebrated range of mirrorless cameras, is built for creators who demand the power and performance of a full-frame sensor with the ergonomics of a mirrorless camera. With Canon EOS RP, get a better broadcast experience for your virtual audiences with 4K 30p video resolution, a fun, vari-angle screen, and the reliable EV-5 focus feature that keeps the subject crisp without the need for external light.

Aside from EOS RP, Canon’s PowerShot G7X Mark III is a favorite among many vloggers. The top-of-the-line compact camera captures 4K video without crop, at an improved ISO sensitivity range of 125 – 12,800 and can continuously shoot up to 30 frames per second during RAW Burst Mode.Designed for today’s digital nomads, the camera supports a direct, wireless, and for a mobile-first experience for your audience, vertical content sharing to popular social media sites like Instagram, Tiktok, and Faceboook, as well as livestreaming to YouTube.  

An optimized Business Solution for the new normal 

Beyond consumer products, Canon advocates for making business as simple as possible. With Therefore, business owners and their employees don’t need to manually rummage through physical files because the solution serves as an organized, centralized data bank with highly customizable security access options. Companies large and small can now smartly store any kind of file, such as income statements, receipts, employee files, or even photos, in Therefore™ and conveniently find it in a few clicks from anywhere in the world, even their own living room. Click here for more information. 

Lifestyle Solution for Fun, Entertainment, and Work 

Movies and presentations can now be viewed with utmost flexibility with Canon’s pocket projector.  The compact and lightweight MP250 lasts up to 2 hours of operation, projects up to 93″ wide at up to 250 lumens brightness. 

The MP250 is ready to work with any laptop thanks to its embedded media and document viewer and HDMI and USB ports. For those who can’t be bothered with a laptop, the mini projector can also support wireless content sharing from Android OS devices or direct playback from a USB flash drive. 

Whether for work or play, everyone can now enjoy a wide range of options from Canon, each one designed to fit today’s demanding digital needs. From cameras and projectors that will elevate your next digital project to innovative software that will simplify your ways of working, Canon has a solution for you. 

Follow Canon Philippines (@canonphils) on Facebook and Instagram for all the latest news and updates. 

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Tech & Innovation

Globe 4G LTE eyes to be stable, reliable partner of online sellers

At a time when practically anything can be ordered online and delivered right at one’s doorstep, a stable and reliable internet connection becomes a necessity both for sellers and buyers.

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At a time when practically anything can be ordered online and delivered right at one’s doorstep, a stable and reliable internet connection becomes a necessity both for sellers and buyers.

This is what Shane Constantino-Flores realized when she explored the world of online selling while juggling her 8-hour day job and taking care of her family. Shane works as a product executive at a digital media company in Quezon City and is a top online seller of imported beauty products.

In the past, Shane had difficulties communicating with her online customers due to weak or non-existent mobile signals at her hometown in Bustos, Bulacan.  Thankfully, this is no longer the case today.

“Malaking tulong talaga itong mas mabilis na internet na dala ng 4G lalo na ngayong full time akong work from home tapos may side hustle of online selling. With faster internet, namamaximize ko ‘yung time ko for my family, my kids, my job, and my online shop. It’s an achievement for me,” said Shane.

She added: “Dito sa area namin sa Bustos, puro bukid siya kung mapapansin, medyo ramdam natin dito ‘yung weakness ng signal pero dahil sa mga ongoing construction nararamdaman naman namin na may improvement na kasi may mga areas na mayroon na talagang signal compared sa dati na talagang dead ‘yung signal.”

Globe helps online sellers like Shane reach the full potential of their business, be it on the side or a primary source of income, through continuous improvement and aggressive infrastructure development in Bulacan and other parts of the country to bring better and faster connections to Filipinos.

“Globe fully supports online sellers who go out of their way to earn extra for their family, so we make sure that their extra effort won’t go to waste. We continue to provide them fast and reliable 4G LTE connections that will help them manage their business and respond to more customers promptly,” said Joel Agustin, Globe Senior Vice President for Program Delivery, Network Technical Group.

4G LTE refers to the mobile network technology that offers higher bandwidth or faster data speed, improved network responsiveness, lower latency, higher network capacity, backward compatibility, and future-proofing. 4G/LTE also gives enhanced security for its users.

To enjoy improved connectivity, customers who are still using the obsolete 3G SIM cards must shift to the 5G-ready 4G LTE SIMs now.  Globe assures customers that their mobile numbers will be retained when they switch to the new technology. If quarantine protocols in their respective areas allow, customers can go to the nearest Globe Store to change their SIM cards for FREE.  For more information, visit https://www.globe.com.ph/help/mobile-internet/lte/faqs.html.    

Aside from changing their SIM cards to 5G-read 4G LTE SIM cards, customers are also encouraged to update their mobile devices to 4G LTE-capable ones and their handset firmware to the latest available on the system for a better mobile data experience. Interested customers can inquire at Globe Stores nationwide for affordable 5G or 4G/LTE capable mobile devices.

Globe strongly supports the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, particularly UN SDG No. 9, which highlights the roles of infrastructure and innovation as crucial drivers of economic growth and development.  The company is also committed to upholding the UN Global Compact principles and contributing to 10 UN Sustainable Development Goals.

To know more about Globe, visit www.globe.com.ph.

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