Bitcoin has grown considerably in popularity over the past year, with prices surging and more and more cryptocurrency followers joining the field. As this has taken place, so too have the number of publicized hacking events increased as well. With more money being invested in digital currencies now than ever before, and particularly given that many investors are new to the system and may not know how to keep their investments secure, hackers are coming up with ingenious ways of stealing funds. Some of the most prominent thefts have been those that have taken place in plain sight: a recent hack rerouted tokens bound for one wallet for another. The victims watched as their tokens were stolen away from them, with nothing they could do about it. Here are a few ways to store your Bitcoins that may be safer than others.
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A desktop wallet offers a number of advantages over an online wallet. While online wallets are easily accessed from anywhere in the world, they are also more vulnerable to potential hacking. Desktop wallets, on the other hand, are accessed only via your private computer, with personal security keys stored just on that machine. Thus, exposure of your security key online is reduced. Nonetheless, desktop wallets are still susceptible to hacks if your machine gets infected with malware designed to root out keys and steal Bitcoins.
More secure than a desktop wallet is a hardware wallet. These wallets are bits of hardware, external devices like USB sticks which you can carry around on your person. An added benefit of a hardware wallet is the complete anonymity with which you can transact. There is no personal information linked to the hardware, so no identifying data which could be leaked. Hardware wallets are resilient to malware, and if you happen to lose the wallet you'll be able to recover the funds using a seed phrase.
A paper wallet is also a relatively safe way of storing Bitcoin, although it requires a bit more advanced understanding of how digital currencies work. Generate a paper wallet online using any number of dedicated websites, or generate the wallet offline for even greater security. Paper wallets are stored easily because they don't take up a great deal of space, and they also offer true anonymity: they are simply a Bitcoin seed written in some way on a piece of paper.
Services are cropping up which allow Bitcoin investors to buy physical Bitcoins. The coin you purchase will have a tamper-proof sticker covering a predetermined amount of Bitcoin. In order to purchase the physical coin, you may need to pay a slight premium over the value of the Bitcoin that you're buying, owing to the cost of the manufacture and shipment of the coin itself.