The NFT craze has made all kinds of digital art, including pixelated cats, highlight reels and tweets, worth millions of dollars — all seemingly overnight. What’s not surprising is that scammers looking to cash in have also made a beeline toward NFT marketplaces. Unfortunately, these malicious actors have made things difficult if you’re looking to sell or buy NFTs safely.
- The NFT frenzy has attracted scammers and hackers looking for a payday.
- To protect your NFT assets, use a VPN to hide your traffic and make it inaccessible to snoopers.
- In addition, enable two-factor authentication, choose a safe digital wallet, ensure that your antivirus is up to date and always do your own research on each NFT project.
Phishing scams in which scammers find sneaky ways to snatch your NFT login credentials are all too common. However, bidding scams, rug-pull scams and pump-and-dump schemes are also picking up steam, and you never know when your NFT art and crypto wallet might come under siege.
Fortunately, you can outsmart scammers by using a virtual private network (VPN) since it encrypts and anonymizes your traffic, making it difficult for scammers to track you. In this guide, we round up the top tips for selling and buying NFTs safely as well as some of the best VPNs to protect your NFT collection.
Updated the article to reflect ExpressVPN’s expansion of server presence from 94 to 105 countries.
You can purchase your own NFT as long as you create an account with a cryptocurrency exchange and connect your wallet. Choose an NFT you like on your crypto platform and make sure you have enough in your wallet to pay for it.
OpenSea is the best website to purchase NFTs. It’s built on the Ethereum blockchain and it has a wide range of NFTs. Also, OpenSea supports more than 150 payment methods, making buying and selling a breeze.
Investing in NFTs is safe as long as you take steps to avoid scams. Do your own research before purchasing or selling NFTs and be sure to use a VPN to encrypt and anonymize your traffic. Whether or not it’s a wise investment is another matter entirely. Learn more in our what are NFTs guide.
How to Buy NFT Safely: Top Tips
Aside from using a VPN, there are other clever ways to protect your digital assets. Let’s take a look at a handful of them.
1. Keep Antivirus Software Up to Date
The best antivirus software comes with features to protect you from a wide range of threats, including malware, spyware, ransomware, keylogging software and phishing attacks. You can run deep system scans to fish out any threats before opening your NFT marketplace or wallet.
Antivirus programs roll out updates frequently, sometimes daily, to keep up with new viruses and cyber threats. The updates generally contain bug fixes, security patches and new virus databases. For optimal performance of your antivirus software, you’ll need to install these updates frequently. You can set your antivirus software to update automatically.
2. Choose a Safe Digital Wallet
To sell or buy NFTs, you need a secure digital wallet. While there are several digital wallets, we recommend the MetaMask wallet, Coinbase or Trust Wallet.
MetaMask is the most secure of the lot and is best if you’re using the Ethereum blockchain (OpenSea uses Ethereum, for example). Trust Wallet, on the other hand, is a mobile-only wallet that works excellently on the Binance smart chain.
3. Use Two-Factor Authentication
Also known as two-step verification, two-factor authentication adds another layer of security to your NFT account. Usually, the first factor is a password and the second is a security code, authenticator app or biometric factors like a facial scan or fingerprints.
Let’s say hackers get access to your password. With two-factor authentication, they’ll have to complete an extra step like entering a one-time password sent to your mobile phone. Unless hackers also have access to your phone, there’s no way they’ll be able to break into your NFT account.
4. Watermark Your Artwork
Thanks to the NFT boom and lax regulations, anyone can copy and paste your artwork without your permission. In fact, OpenSea, the largest NFT marketplace, recently announced that over 80% of NFTs minted on its platform using the free minting tool were “plagiarized works, fake collections or scams.”
Although many NFT marketplaces have instituted measures to deal with copyright infringement, it’s best to take the bull by the horns: Place clear watermarks on your NFT to deter any fraudster from copying it. If you find large watermarks jarring, you can add an invisible watermark at the pixel level.
5. Buy and Sell on Trustworthy Platforms
If you choose the wrong NFT platform, you’ll be in danger of losing your NFT art. To be safe, only trade on reputable and trusted NFT platforms. At the very least, an NFT marketplace should have robust security and encryption features to protect your digital collectibles.
It should also provide in-depth information on each NFT project, from prices and ratings to the trading history of the NFT. Make sure that your chosen NFT marketplace supports multiple NFT wallets and payment options. Examples of popular and established marketplaces include OpenSea, Rarible and Coinbase NFT.
6. Research NFT Projects
The golden rule of trading cryptos and NFTs is to do your own research. Rather than rely on what creators say about their projects, dig deep into each one before spending a dime. The first step is to vet the team behind the project. Find out about their background, accomplishments and online activities.
Next, consider the traction of the NFT project. What is the word on the street regarding the NFT project? Are people excited or skeptical? Does the project have many individual owners or do a handful of people own most of the NFTs? Also, consider the price evolution of the NFT to make sure it has longevity and resilience.
7. Be Wary of NFT Drops or “Giveaways”
The NFT space is littered with reports of unbelievable NFT drops and giveaways. In most cases, creators give away free NFTs to users who help promote their new project. While some NFT drops are legitimate, others can be opportunities for hackers to steal your data.
For example, after completing the steps required in an NFT giveaway, you’ll be sent a link to access your reward. Unfortunately, that link could easily be a phishing link and once you enter your NFT credentials, hackers copy it using spyware or keylogging software. So before you sign up for any NFT drop, be sure to cross-check the project’s authenticity.
How to Sell & Buy NFT Safely With a VPN
When you’re buying or selling NFTs, you may not know if the other party is a scammer who’s stalking you. A virtual private network is an excellent solution, since it hides your actual IP address and spoofs your location, making it hard for any snooper to track your online activities.
In addition, a VPN protects your crypto wallet by encrypting your traffic, so even if fraudsters do access your data, they’ll only see gibberish and won’t be able to make sense of it.
Based on our research and testing, here are the three top VPNs to help you stay safe while trading NFTs:
- ExpressVPN — Best NFT VPN with best-in-class security features
- NordVPN — Secure NFT VPN with a suite of security features
- CyberGhost — Easy-to-use VPN for NFT trading
Let’s examine each of them to see what makes them great for protecting digital art, starting with our best VPN for NFT, ExpressVPN. If you want to dig deep into VPNs for NFTs, read our article on the best NFT VPNs.
1. ExpressVPN: Best VPN for NFT
In all our years of testing and reviewing VPNs, ExpressVPN has always been a class act. It has robust obfuscated servers that are great at hiding your NFT traffic from snoopers. There are also helpful security features, including AES-256 encryption, a kill switch and DNS leak protection, which veil your online activities, as you can see in our ExpressVPN review.
When it comes to speed, ExpressVPN is tough to beat. Its excellent upload speeds ensure that you don’t experience any lags when minting or selling NFTs. Thanks to its great download speeds and low latency, you don’t have to worry about missing any drops or launches. No wonder it’s also the best crypto trading VPN and best NFT VPN.
In addition, ExpressVPN has servers in 105 countries (only Surfshark beats it on that front), making it a good choice for unblocking NFT marketplaces globally. The good news is that ExpressVPN’s TrustedServer technology wipes all data from its servers upon every reboot so you don’t have to worry about data breaches. ExpressVPN’s main drawback is that it’s pricey.
If ExpressVPN’s price is off-putting to you, turn to our next best VPN, NordVPN. NordVPN has always been hot on ExpressVPN’s heels, offering top security and privacy features at lower prices. It comes with must-have features for the NFT market, such as AES-256 encryption, a kill switch and leak protection.
However, unlike ExpressVPN, NordVPN has a double VPN feature that routes your internet traffic through two servers instead of one for added security. You can also get a dedicated IP address at an extra charge to avoid being flagged by your NFT marketplace. In addition, there’s a threat protection feature that alerts you about malicious sites so you can sidestep phishing scams.
Better still, NordVPN is the fastest premium VPN, and its NordLynx protocol can give you stable and consistent speeds for minting NFTs. Explore more about this robust VPN service in our NordVPN review.
CyberGhost isn’t as fast as ExpressVPN, nor does it boast the caliber of security features that NordVPN has. That said, its server network is nothing to sneeze at: over 7,700 servers in 91 countries. It’s a great choice if you travel frequently and need to access your NFT marketplace. With its strict no-logs policy, you don’t need to worry about your NFT data being exposed.
What’s more, CyberGhost’s apps are easy to use, intuitive and neatly organized; you can connect to a server with only a few clicks. If you open your NFT account often, you might find it tiring to have to manually connect to the VPN each time. CyberGhost’s smart rules feature allows you to set your VPN to connect to a specific server as soon as you access your NFT wallet.
If you’re looking for a VPN for the long term, CyberGhost is hard to ignore. Its two-year plan is cheaper than NordVPN’s and it also has a cutthroat three-year plan. While both ExpressVPN and NordVPN offer a 30-day money-back guarantee, CyberGhost offers a 45-day money-back guarantee on its plans (except on the monthly deal). Learn more in our CyberGhost review.
The ever-growing scams in the NFT space mean that every NFT owner must place a premium on safety and security when selling or buying NFTs. As you’ve seen in this article, securing your NFT requires several steps, including using a safe digital wallet, updating your antivirus and watermarking your digital artwork.
A VPN is an excellent way to encrypt and anonymize your traffic, making it hard for any snooper to access your data. We recommend using ExpressVPN, thanks to its solid encryption features, large server network and blazing-fast speeds. Ultimately, do your own research before buying or selling an NFT.
Have you ever observed or experienced an NFT scam? What did you do about it? Did any of the security tips we shared above help? Which tips would you add to this list? Share your thoughts with us in the comments section below, and as always, thanks for reading.