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No matter how secure your bitcoin or cryptocurrencies are, even if you own a reputable hardware wallet and have your recovery seed stored safely in a locked safe, these safety precautions can be rendered useless by the $5 wrench attack. But, what is it and how do I protect myself from it?
What is a $5 Wrench Attack?
Basically, if someone finds out that you own a significant amount of coins, they can straight-off physically attack you, or threaten you to hand over your wallet’s private keys, or threaten you to send over the funds to them by using a deadly weapon or a basic tool that can be used for harm like a kitchen knife, a hammer, a screwdriver, or a cheap and rusty $5 wrench.
No matter how secure your funds are in your hardware wallet or on any of your devices, no computer security can save you from this type of attack.
So, how do you protect yourself from it?
1. Keep it private
The same reason why it would be a very bad idea to tell everyone that you won the lottery.
You can probably talk about bitcoin with friends occasionally, but as much as possible prevent unnecessarily telling people about you buying bitcoin, or you owning a certain number of bitcoins, you earning big bucks on your recent successful trade, or something along those lines. If such sensitive information about your finances reaches the wrong people, you might be in trouble. Boasting about your cryptocurrency holdings is just adding unnecessary risk to yourself, or worse, possibly even to your family and friends.
If someone you don’t know or don’t know well asks you about bitcoin or cryptocurrencies, the best answer would probably be: “What’s bitcoin? Never heard of it“. Or something along those lines.
2. Prevent getting unwanted attention
Bitcoin or cryptocurrency stickers in your car, on your laptop, having bitcoin and cryptocurrency-related license plates, those things.
As bitcoin and cryptocurrency enthusiasts and investors, Bitcoin and crypto stickers and license plates are cool and all that, but unless you work in the cryptocurrency industry and are quite well-known anyway, It’d be best to prevent flaunting your affiliation with cryptocurrencies especially in public.
Having these public gimmicks like car stickers and wearing bitcoin and cryptocurrency-related clothing is one of the worst ways to attract unnecessary attention unless you want to be followed by criminals on your way home.
3. Have better home security
Regardless if you own bitcoin and cryptocurrencies or not, this should be a priority in the first place. Improve your home security by adding locks to your doors and simply locking them always, getting a firearm (if legal in your jurisdiction), adopt a loyal and trusty canine, setting up security cameras and motion sensors, or better yet, acquire a firearm and learn how to use it if your jurisdiction allows them.
We won’t be going in-depth on this point simply because there are so much good content and articles on the web already.
4. Learn martial arts
While having a firearm is still going to be far more effective, it wouldn’t hurt to learn some combat arts that are quite effective for defending yourself in the streets such as Muay Thai and Jiu-Jitsu.
Some decent martial arts knowledge would be really handy when you’re just out and about doing your errands, and suddenly you need to defend yourself from an attacker. Because chances are, you wouldn’t be able to bring your firearm with you everywhere.
Alternative: bring a pepper spray
5. Set up a dummy wallet
If for instance, you own $100,000 worth of cryptocurrencies, it wouldn’t hurt to create a separate wallet using a separate set of private keys and store a hundred dollars in it. That way, if you were ever a victim of the $5 wrench attack, you could potentially get away with it by making a well-fabricated alibi like how you gambled your coins away and now you’re only left with a hundred dollars worth of coins; something like that. If you’ve ended up successfully convinced the thief, then it should be a win for you.
While you still end up losing some coins, losing only a small percentage of your total holdings is still better than losing everything.
If you own a reputable hardware wallet like the Ledger or the Trezor, which you definitely should if you want to take your security seriously, you can follow the steps on how to create secure passphrases on their respective articles:
Note: This security precaution should only be your last resort, and is definitely not a solution with a 100% success rate. The thief could simply not believe you and torment you for hours until you give in and expose your real cryptocurrency wallet.
While some people are taking their cryptocurrency security or online security in general very seriously(which you definitely should), people might be forgetting the most vulnerable part: you as a person. Regardless of how secure your funds are, you’re still the weakest link. Following the steps above should be enough to greatly prevent this type of ‘attack’ from happening.
If you want to learn more about securing your funds in general, please check out our articles on our homepage, cryptosec.info, and share them with your friends that you think need help with securing their funds.