Bitcoin has been climbing fast. As of this writing Bitcoin is trading at over $1,800 per whole BTC. That represents a 48% gain in just the last month and an 80% gain since January 1st!
Understandably, Bitcoin users are excited and speculation has increased. New customers have been buying from our ATMs in anticipation of future gains. While we are as excited as many of you, we would like to caution our customers on two points:
- Buy only what you can afford to lose, preferably slowly and over time.
- Store your Bitcoin smartly and safely. Use backups and consider hardware wallets.
It's on the point #2 that we'd like to expand on further by describing two good ways you can keep your bitcoin safe from both external actors and common mistakes: Using your Athena Bitcoin Wallet smartly and taking a look at hardware wallets for high value storage.
The Athena Bitcoin Wallet is one of the best mobile smartphone and software-only wallets available today. It was built for maximum privacy and security, but with ease-of-use in mind.
With Bitcoin, your private keys are everything. They are what let you generate addresses and, importantly, the only thing anyone needs to spend your funds. As such, keeping your private keys private is one of the most important tasks of any wallet. The Athena Bitcoin Wallet generates your private keys on your device when you first setup the app. They are then encrypted by your username and password before being stored on Airbitz' servers. This process allows you to login on other devices both for convenience and as a recovery mechanism in case you lose your phone. However, you may also choose to restrict wallet logins to just the devices you authorize in advance. You may also set up password-based spending limits to further restrict sending ability to only those who know your password (hopefully just you!).
For the storage of large amounts of bitcoin in your Athena wallet (say, between 1 and 5 BTC), we would recommend you take the following steps:
- WRITE DOWN the username and password for your wallet on paper. This "backup" is essential for the safety of your funds.
- Go into Menu > Settings and select 2 Factor (Enhanced Security) to setup login restriction. This will prevent your wallet from being loaded on any other device without this device's permission. (Recovery in case of phone loss is still possible.)
- Go into Menu > Settings and select Spending Limits. If you don't plan to send out of this wallet very often or at all, I would recommend setting up a Daily Spending Limit of 0. This will require your password every time you go to spend from this wallet (but you can still login, check your balance, and receive funds with your PIN).
- MAKE SURE you have written down your username and password and tested that backup! Store the backup in a fire- and water- resistant safe. This is critical for the safety of your funds.
Please see the Securing your wallet page at Bitcoin.org for more tips to improve your security. In the next article we will cover hardware wallets in a little more detail.