Discussing Crypto and Cybersecurity: AMA with NordVPN
Last updated: October 12, 2023 8 min read
We recently had another riveting ‘X Spaces’ session with our good friends at NordVPN, and it was a conversation worth capturing.
Take this invite to explore the intersection of cryptocurrencies and cybersecurity in this comprehensive recap of CoinGate’s in-depth discussion with NordVPN.
From the evolving landscape of VPN services to the role of crypto in authoritarian regimes, this article delves into the opportunities, challenges, and future prospects of these game-changing technologies discussed during the AMA session.
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Not Just VPNs and Crypto Payments
Our CEO, Justas Paulius, and Kęstas Saulis, Head of Payments from Nord Security didn’t just talk shop about VPNs and crypto payments. They delved into the broader visions of our companies, dissecting how we’re both striving to change the landscape of online security and financial freedom.
Kęstas explained that the VPN industry has evolved to offer more than just VPNs, incorporating features like malware protection, file encryption, and ad blockers. They’ve even ventured into AI with their NordLabs project, focusing on new security innovations like Sonar, a phishing email identifier – more about that later.
Justas also touched on how CoinGate’s mission extends beyond just processing crypto payments. We’re here to make crypto more accessible and usable, whether that’s by allowing businesses to accept crypto or helping people spend it on everyday items.
Reading is boring? Listen to the AMA instead:
Pro Tips for Marketing Cryptocurrency Payments
When it comes to accepting cryptocurrency payments, the first hurdle is often letting your customer base know that this option is available. Kęstas had some insightful recommendations for this.
He emphasized the importance of visibility, mentioning that NordVPN uses two key channels to inform their users: a dedicated payment methods landing page and the checkout page when a purchase is about to be initiated.
This approach resonates well with our philosophy at CoinGate. We believe that transparency and ease of access are crucial when introducing a new payment method. Particularly for smaller companies that may be new to the crypto world, these tips can be invaluable.
A dedicated landing page optimized for search engines can pull in new users actively looking to spend their digital assets, while an obvious and easy-to-find option at checkout ensures you’re not missing out on potential sales. In essence, good visibility can significantly boost adoption and revenue.
With that in mind, we also have a dedicated blog post full of tips specifically for merchants looking to attract more crypto customers. Do not miss out on it!
Understanding the Risks: What is Cryptojacking?
The topic of cryptojacking brought a sense of gravity to our conversation. Kęstas described it as the unauthorized use of a computer to mine digital currencies.
This illicit activity not only burdens the victim with higher electricity costs but also significantly slows down the computer’s performance. This sluggishness serves as a red flag and an urgent call to investigate the situation.
Here at CoinGate, we can’t stress enough the importance of understanding the darker aspects of the crypto world. Knowing the risks involved can help users take preventative measures. Awareness campaigns, strong antivirus software, and regular system checks can go a long way in safeguarding against such attacks.
It’s not just about promoting the positives of crypto; we have a responsibility to educate our users about the potential pitfalls too. Cryptojacking may not be as talked about as hacking or phishing, but its insidious nature makes it equally dangerous.
Who Benefits? The Diverse Users of Crypto and VPNs
One of the most intriguing parts of our conversation with NordVPN was around the kinds of people who benefit the most from VPNs and cryptocurrencies.
Justas segmented these into different groups, starting with the early adopters who championed Bitcoin for its anti-establishment potential back in 2008/2009. These people were primarily driven by ideology, seeing Bitcoin as a way to liberate individuals from government control over money.
However, as the years have passed, the ecosystem has matured and diversified considerably. Nowadays, the benefits of these technologies extend far beyond the ideological early adopters. For example, in authoritarian regimes, these technologies can serve as lifelines, helping people access unfiltered information and financial systems outside of governmental control.
Let’s take Europe as a case study. Last year, the war in Ukraine led to a surge in refugees who, without proper identification, found themselves excluded from the traditional financial systems in their host countries. But cryptocurrencies provided an alternative, offering these individuals a way to participate in the economy, buy necessities, and more.
The growing number of migrants coming to Europe further underlines the need for a more inclusive financial system, and cryptocurrencies could fill that gap.
Securing Your Digital Assets to Keep Your Crypto Safe
Security is an ever-pressing concern in the digital world, and our conversation with NordVPN certainly highlighted this.
Kęstas laid out some essential best practices for safeguarding crypto assets. He stressed the importance of utilizing both online and hardware wallets for different use-cases. Online wallets are convenient for quick access and transactions but are more susceptible to hacking. On the flip side, hardware wallets offer robust security but come with the risk of physical loss. Learn more about crypto wallets.
Kęstas also strongly recommended setting up Two-Factor Authentication (2FA) for added security. In the event that an unauthorized user tries to access your account, 2FA can serve as a critical line of defense.
One of NordVPN’s solutions for password security is NordPass, a password generator and manager that helps you maintain strong and unique passwords for different platforms.
Justas chimed in, noting that while CoinGate doesn’t currently offer wallet services, we’re actively working on developing this feature. Our goal is to provide a secure and convenient way for our users to store their digital assets, complementing our existing array of services.
Both these topics remind us of the multifaceted nature of cryptocurrencies and VPNs. They’re not just tools for financial transactions or online privacy; they’re part of a broader tapestry of technologies and practices that can empower individuals in various life scenarios.
The challenge lies in maximizing their benefits while minimizing risks—a task that both CoinGate and NordVPN are deeply committed to.
The Double-Edged Sword of Crypto in Authoritarian Regimes
Our dialogue with Kęstas took a poignant turn when we started discussing the role of VPNs and cryptocurrencies in countries under authoritarian rule.
Justas recounted an inspiring story from the Bitcoin Miami 2022 conference about a woman who used these technologies to escape North Korea. Her family had saved money for years, only for the government to abruptly devalue their savings. Turning to crypto and VPNs, she was able to plan and eventually execute her escape, highlighting the life-changing potential of these technologies.
However, it’s not all positive. These same technologies can be exploited by nefarious actors linked to authoritarian regimes, who can use them for activities like money laundering or illegal arms trading.
Both CoinGate and NordVPN recognize the critical importance of staying diligent to ensure that while our services empower individuals, they don’t become tools for authoritarian governments.
Guarding Against Scams and Future Threats
The risk of scams and social engineering attacks is very real in the crypto world. During our discussion, Kęstas outlined some of the most common types of scams that crypto users should be wary of.
These include email and messaging scams that impersonate trusted entities to phishing attacks using fake websites and platforms. Such deceptive techniques can lure unsuspecting individuals into revealing sensitive information, which could result in irreversible losses.
Justas added that even industry leaders like Ethereum’s Vitalik Buterin aren’t immune to such threats. He recounted an incident where Buterin fell victim to a sim card swap orchestrated by a hacker who managed to convince a mobile operator to transfer Buterin’s number.
It’s a sobering reminder that security is a shared responsibility, not just for individuals but also for the companies that provide these services.
Pushing the Boundaries with AI
We also ventured into the realm of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and its potential applications in enhancing cybersecurity. Kęstas mentioned NordVPN’s experimental project, Sonar, which aims to identify phishing emails. Currently in beta and available as a Google Chrome extension, the project represents NordVPN’s foray into harnessing AI for cybersecurity.
Justas was keen to know if NordVPN is developing a “silver bullet” for security. While Kęstas couldn’t reveal too much, he confirmed that NordLabs is actively working on AI-based solutions, of which Sonar is just the beginning. Feel free to join the waitlist!
By delving into these topics, we were reminded of the complexity and potential of the technologies we’re engaged with. Both cryptocurrencies and VPNs offer a range of opportunities and challenges, and it’s our collective responsibility to navigate this landscape wisely.
Our conversation with NordVPN was enlightening and reinforced how both our companies are striving to empower people through technology. We’re not just offering a VPN service or a crypto payment gateway; we’re shaping the future of online security and financial systems.
And while the road ahead is long and fraught with challenges, it’s conversations like these that make the journey worthwhile.
We hope you found this recap valuable, and if you did, stay tuned for more talks like this!