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Crypto Robberies At Gunpoint Increasing in Frequency

Sead Fadilpašić
Last updated: | 2 min read

While blockchain technology makes theft by hacking virtually impossible, along with tracking all owners of a single crypto token, thieves now have to resort to old-fashioned ways of stealing these virtual coins.

A month ago, two crypto traders were attacked in their family home in rural England, with their baby kept outside in a pram. Recently, there were at least a few more attacks in Thailand, Ukraine, and New York City. In the US, a man was held captive by a friend until he transferred over USD 1.8 million worth of Ether, a virtual currency second in value only to Bitcoin, the New York Times (NYT) reported.

For all the security blockchain and crypto has to offer, none of that protects from a gun or a threat of violence. While banks can stop or reverse large electronic transactions made under duress, there is no such security measure in place for crypto. So what are the options to protect your assets?

Anonymity is one of crypto’s largest features, which means nobody has to know exactly how much you have. However, this is hardly any sort of protection if you are a public figure in the crypto community, such as Danny Aston, the trader attacked in England, who ran a cryptocurrency trading company called Aston Digital Currencies Ltd.

Chris Burniske, a partner at Placeholder, a New York venture firm that specializes in cryptoassets, for example, advises discreetness. “When talking about crypto enthusiastically in the streets, be [discreet]. Use the tickers of the assets (BTC) instead of the actual name (bitcoin),” he tweeted.

Aside from usual ways of protection such as security cameras and alarms, there are few that are specific to this exact problem. At a conference for about 170 leaders in the virtual currency industry this month, there was a panel discussion about how to deal with problems such as these. One idea was a “duress wallet” that can be handed over to throw an assailant off the trail of a bigger fortune, according to the NYT report.

Another, sometimes overseen, security measure are so-called multisig wallets – requiring multiple people to sign off on a transaction before the money can move. While these can be a pain to use for everyday trading, they provide significantly more security than wallets without this feature.

According to an engineer and crypto holder Jameson Lopp, it is “important to publicize the many ways in which virtual currency holders can fend off assailants so that criminals reconsider the likelihood of a successful attack,” NYT reported.