The rise of cryptocurrencies was first addressed with speculation but now we can see that more and more of such digital assets are implemented into various fields. People can not only trade cryptocurrencies for monetary benefits but also use them for daily transactions, such as purchasing VPN software for their computer or other tools.
According to Alice Bo-Wen Chang, the Senior Director of Marketing and PR at SecuX (a Blockchain Security Company), the perception of cryptocurrencies has changed dramatically and now they even appear in investment portfolios.
Since malicious threat actors are always seeking to gain the highest financial benefits, we talked about how the security technologies behind crypto wallets work and what are the most prominent threats surrounding the crypto landscape.
Introduce us to SecuX. What would you consider your biggest milestones throughout the years?
SecuX was founded by three Co-Founders who were very experienced and successful in the field of consumer electronics, IP security, and academic economics. They all saw the revolutionary potential of blockchain technology, to be the next big thing after the invention of the Internet, as well as the impact of how crypto/digital currency is about to change our monetary system and the way we perceive and use money.
But both, the biggest risk and fear that comes with the decentralized system is cybersecurity and malicious hacking. So, together they established SecuX with a vision to provide security products and services that allow us all to enjoy the advantages and convenience that blockchain is going to bring to our lives without having to worry or be afraid of security risks.
In the company name SecuX – Secu stands for secure, while X means across everything. Our products include 3 models of hardware wallets that have won quite a few awards for their vault-grade security and 3 different types of crypto seed metal backup sets. Additionally, we are launching a new NFT-focused product line this year. For a young startup, we think it’s been very productive and promising to reach such a level of achievement.
Can you briefly describe what hardware wallets are? How does this technology work?
Hardware wallets are designed to save your private key which is the most important thing in managing digital assets. Your private key generates receiving addresses for you to receive funds, and you also need it to authorize any outgoing transactions.
SecuX wallets use a military-grade Secure Element Chip that’s manufactured in Germany to securely store your private key and personal PIN offline to prevent hackers from stealing all your coins and tokens. So, when generating your addresses or authorizing transactions, the wallet enables the signing without the private key ever leaving the device.
The Infineon chip also has a self-destructive mechanism. If threat actors try to physically open the device in an attempt to extract data directly from the chip – it destroys itself immediately when it’s exposed to light.
What are the differences between hardware and software wallets? Which option is more secure?
Software wallets are crypto wallets that are installed on a computer, smartphones, tablets, or cloud services. Personal accounts on crypto exchanges, such as Binance, Bittrex, and Coinbase also include software wallets. These wallets are mostly connected to the Internet for fast and up to date access, preferable to short-term investors and traders who are constantly moving funds for profit. Although they are extremely convenient, access to the internet also makes them vulnerable to hacking and cyberattacks.
Hardware wallets are mighty and safe crypto wallets that allow you to prove that you are the owner of the digital assets, and store your private key offline in a secure chip embedded within physical hardware. These wallets are more secure than other types of wallets because they ensure that the private key never goes online, meaning that they are completely out of reach from potential hacking risks.
Do you think the pandemic influenced the way people perceive the crypto landscape as a whole?
In 2021, we’ve seen a huge rush of the public, mainstream institutions, and corporations getting into crypto space. For example, Bitcoin went from being worth less than $10 a decade ago to over $60k with a market cap of over 1 trillion dollars. Global crypto users have also grown to 160 million in the first quarter of 2021 and even reached over 300 million at the end of the year, showing a 190% increase.
It's hard to say whether the pandemic had a direct impact on the public’s perception of cryptocurrencies but it definitely influenced the overall financial market. The uncertainties of the future possibly drive some investors to leverage crypto, as well as to hedge against inflation and depreciation of fiat currencies.
Since digital assets are a relatively new technology, there is still some confusion and myths surrounding them. What misconceptions do you run into most often?
The most misconceptions we run into are when people send us requests to recover their passwords, PIN codes, or ask us to cancel/retract their transactions. Simply because this is not possible in a decentralized service operation. Unlike traditional centralized financial services, SecuX Services neither require the registration of personal information nor the creation of personal accounts to use our services. You might have heard of the phrase – not your keys, not your coins. So, your private key is the only access to operate your crypto assets.
SecuX cannot store and does not have access to any PINs, recovery words, private keys, passwords, passphrases, transaction history, or other credentials associated with the use of the services. Therefore, we're not in a position to help retrieve users' credentials. Only they are solely responsible for remembering, storing, and keeping their credentials safe and secure, as well as away from malicious intentions. Any third party with knowledge of one or more of the user's recovery words or PINs can gain control of the private keys associated with the SecuX Wallet and compromise the stored crypto assets.
In your opinion, what are the most serious cybersecurity threats prominent nowadays?
From the users' perspective, there are many cybersecurity threats, such as viruses, physical compromise, clone swapping, man-in-the-middle interference, and others. People try to defend against them by implementing various security measures developed by major software developers, hardware manufacturers, and Internet service providers.
However, the most dangerous issue is when hackers try to deceive users with camouflaged phishing websites and links that come through emails, instant messages, and other social media channels. For example, last year Ledger suffered a breach of customer data that resulted in users experiencing phishing scams. SecuX not only produces products to prevent cyber attacks on your private key, but we also take customers’ privacy very seriously. We do not store any user data on our devices, websites, web applications, or apps.
We believe in the decentralized system of blockchain and do not ask our customers to create an account with their personal information. Therefore, none of our customers' information can be compromised from our servers. If customers purchase our products from our official website, we only keep shipping details until their order has been dispatched. Later, we move the data to offline storage and delete it after a month.
What are the biggest mistakes you notice new crypto owners make?
New crypto owners may not be aware of the difference between a decentralized financial system and a centralized one which most of us are used to. A centralized bank grants you access to your accounts by checking your identity and personal information, whereas the decentralized blockchain only recognizes your private key. Therefore, it is imperative to keep your recovery words and private key safe.
We recommend users be aware of their surroundings while setting up the wallet. They should make sure there are no surveillance cameras or other people taking photos/recording their recovery words and PINs, and also they shouldn't share this information with anyone else. Additionally, it's important to keep recovery words in a safe place and away from water or fire. There are also crypto seed backup metal plates to help protect recovery words such as our XSEED product line.
Talking about the future, what technology trends do you think will emerge in 2022?
One of the biggest events late last year was Facebook changing its name to META, declaring that the web3/crypto era has arrived. Earlier, we were saying how Bitcoin is no longer speculation and that people are starting to include cryptos in their portfolio for long-term holdings, lending, and loans. And now, it’s the time for NFTs and Metaverse.
NFT is another crucial and significant player taking over the art, social media, and entertainment sector. The hype of Cryptopunks and Cryptokitties attracted not only crypto-enthusiasts, artists, and celebrities to start minting NFTs for sale and trade. Corporations, politicians, and governments are all also getting in the space for publicity and a foot in the door of the futuristic metaverse. It is obvious that this is all going to be part of our daily lives sooner than anyone could expect. So, the security and management of digital assets are going to be an absolute necessity.
And finally, what’s next for SecuX?
Currently, NFT is the most influential crypto that is penetrating the mainstream majority, and the entryway for non-crypto enthusiasts. It is going to be widely accepted by the public much faster than the digital currency itself. So, SecuX is releasing its NFT support soon, and also launching the first NFT-focused hardware wallet in a couple of months.
Since NFTs are so new, all the hardware wallets currently available on the market support them as a token with zero to none viewing options. However, as the trading value for NFT increases, people would definitely want to have a more secure way of storing and trading their NFTs. Our new product NFT device is chic, stylish, and packed with super intuitive features, and ultimate security. We can’t wait to show you.