|I’m going to get this disclaimer out of the way. Right now, I cannot recommend spending your very real, hard-earned money on NFTs. It’s an unregulated market, and, as such, there’s a chance the bubble for digital goods like these will burst, and you’ll be the part-owner of a few worthless pixels. Also, the current state of NFT transactions creates plenty of ways for crooks to scam you out of your money while you’re purchasing your share of the digital art.That said, it’s your money, it’s your life—do what makes you happy. So if purchasing an NFT and making it your profile pic on Twitter is what makes your heart sing, don’t let some lady on the internet tell you not to follow your dreams. All I’m saying is that you may be a pioneer, but to scammers you’re a target.
Still want to buy into the NFT market? PCMag contributor K. Thor Jensen wrote an article about what NFTs are and all the ways you can get scammed while trying to own them.
Protect Yourself From NFT Scams
Here are a few ways to join the virtual art collecting wave without losing everything.
Research before you buy. Look into each transaction before spending your money. Where is the transaction conducted? Is it on a well-known site such as OpenSea? OpenSea is a large marketplace that includes safety warnings, anti-fraud policies, and a Help Center on the site.
Watch out for shady drops. People in the NFT world often do giveaways or free “drops” involving security exploits. Each NFT has a contract, and some scammers make these agreements include authorizations to access your crypto wallet or sell all your holdings. In short, don’t accept a free NFT from someone you don’t know and trust.
Never share your seed phrase or private key to your crypto wallet. If someone asks you for the key to your wallet during an NFT transaction, run! Never share that kind of information. With your seed phrase or key, anyone can take all your cryptocurrency or NFTs, no hacking required.
Never store your seed phrase online. Even if you store it as a text file, a PDF, or a JPG, a hacker can find your seed phrase if it’s on the internet. Find a 100% offline way to back up your seed phrase, such as a hardware security key.
Don’t open files from unfamiliar senders. Hackers create viruses that target your cryptocurrency wallet. Hackers and scammers also want you to visit fake exchange sites, and there are plenty of them. We’ve mentioned this tip often in our coverage of phishing scams, but don’t click links in emails from unknown senders.
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Remove Malware from Your PC
Got malware? Even the best antivirus may not be able to protect you from a device on your network compromised by malware. There are also phishing schemes to trick you into clicking an infected link and bringing malware into your system. If you suspect your computer has malware, PCMag features editor Eric Griffith has a wealth of tips for getting rid of the offending software.
Below is a summary of the steps to take to defend yourself against malware.
- Update your antivirus. Make sure your antivirus software is up to date and perform a deep antivirus scan. It may take time for the scan to complete, but that may be the key to finding and fixing your malware issue.
- Revert your system. If the malware deactivated your antivirus, it’s time to set your system to one of your Restore points in Windows. Make Windows go back to a period of time before you experienced malware symptoms.
- Go nuclear. You may need to perform a full factory reset as the final, drastic option. There’s also the nuclear option of reformatting your hard drive and reinstalling your operating system.
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, so keep your security suite up to date, uninstall any programs you don’t use often or don’t trust, and avoid getting scammed or phished online.
PCMag Security Analyst
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