Is Myetherwallet Safe?

MyEtherWallet may be one of the most popular ways of storing Ethers and ERC-20 tokens out there, but recent events have led a number of people to ask, is Myetherwallet safe? After all, Ethereum is the leading blockchain for smart contracts and thus, its users are fast becoming quite a popular target for hacks and scams. The call for a safe, secure, ERC20 wallet is being made by many voices.

Answering the call, time and again, is Myetherwallet, an open source wallet made for generating & sending transactions.

But how safe is Myetherwallet in 2019?

  • MyEtherWallet, a brief history.

    Ethereum differentiates itself from Bitcoin in quite a significant way: it allows for the creation of “smart contracts.” Suffice it to say that these smart contracts are quite exciting since they let people put patents, healthcare records, and myriad more on a blockchain.

    To answer people’s paramount question, i.e. is “my ether wallet safe” -- Taylor Manahan and Kosala Hemachandra founded MyEtherWallet (MEW) in 2015, not long after Ethereum itself was created.

    Since then the company has grown exponentially. The list of companies that partnered with MEW is extensive and continues to grow. A handful of the largest includes big players such as Bity, Kyber Network, Changelly, and Simplex. These latter firms are especially important to note since they allow users to swap fiat for crypto, ETH for BTC, ETH for ERC-20 tokens, and other such important pairs.

    As if that weren’t enough, MEW is trying to keep MyEtherwallet safe by introducing new innovations such as MEWconnect. If you have an Apple or Android smartphone, MEW's companion app offers hardware-wallet style security. You just download the app, go through the registration process, and use your ERC20 wallet in a normal fashion, content that MEW is keeping Myetherwallet safe and “helping you to secure your funds as never before” -- much like 2FA security.

    On the other hand, if you already own or simply prefer using a separate hardware wallet, MEW also supports the entire lineup of hardware wallets: Ledger, Trezor, and more.

    Either way you look at it, MEW seems to be a company dedicated to keeping answering the question “is myetherwallet safe?” with a resounding “yes.”

  • MyEtherWallet, safe or hacked?

    Yet for all their dedication to security, MEW has endured attacks. On April 24th, 2018 headlines ran red with “Myetherwallet hacked.” A scam artist had run a ‘phishing hack.’ This is a type of hack where normal users think they are going to the normal MEW website but instead, are being secretly redirected to a fake site.

    Such a phishing attack is possible for centralized services such as MEW. Since there is one central website/service -- it’s easier to attack it. And the way that worked for the hackers is rather simple: The hackers created a website identical to MEW’s, redirected people to their fake site, and when the people log in and do what they do, the fake site gathers their info and then robs them of their ETH.

    According to Etherscan.io -- a reputable blockchain explorer -- ETH to the tune of $150,000 was stolen. The attacker then moved the funds through their wallets until it disappeared.
     

    MEW safety -- the responsibility of the user?

    MEW reported that the fault wasn’t on their end, however. They claimed that such a phishing attack is a well-known hacking technique and instead the fault lay with their domain provider -- who allowed their Domain Name System to be hacked at about 7:15 a.m. EST. This simple error afforded the attacker the opportunity to redirect people trying to go to myetherwallet.com to go instead to a phishing site.

    Another MyEtherWallet hack, or rather MEW scam, happened in December 2017. Throughout the month the Apple app store contained a downloadable app that looked and acted like a real MEW app. It was fake. Before Apple acted and took it down, several people had downloaded the app and fed it with their actual login information.

    This goes to show that even incredibly top-tier companies such as Apple, who employ incredibly bright minded people, can be tricked. After all, Apple’s App Store employs a rigorous vetting process, stricter than most of its competition. Yet here we have an example of a scammer fooling Apple, launching a phishing app that skyrocketed, and even buying an ad on the Apple App store. This all means that even though MEW was ‘hacked’ -- the blame rests squarely on Apple’s shoulders.
     

    The Founding Fathers Split up.

    Perhaps hacks and scams like these led to another problem at MyEtherWallet: one of the founding partners split off to start a rival wallet:

    “There’s controversy in the crypto community after one of the founders [...] announced a new company and wallet service called MyCrypto.com on Thursday.”

    These types of controversies have dogged MEW. Nevertheless, the company remains not only operational but also expanding. This is partially because such hacks and scams occur quite frequently in the crypto sphere. That’s why a key component to keeping safe is knowing how to avoid common mistakes most cryptocurrency investors make. After all, knowledge is half the battle.

  • How to make MyEtherWallet safe

    Here are a few guidelines to understand how to navigate MyEtherWallet securely. After all, Myetherwallet’s hack -- which was not their fault -- put users in danger because users did not take enough safety precautions.

    1. Double, even triple check the URL. That’s the website address. If it’s misspelled in any way or has an ending that isn’t what you're used to (.io instead of .com or similar) then avoid it.
    2. If you receive an email from MEW or another company, double check the sender's email. If it looks suspicious and is asking for your information or provides a direct link to a website that looks suspicious -- best to send it on over to the junk folder.
    3. Best not to participate in any “ETH giveaways” or any giveaways for that matter. Tempting as it may be to get something for nothing -- the world really doesn’t work that way. Economists are fond of saying “there’s no such thing as a free lunch” and it’s true.
    4. In the case of the fake Apple MEW app, make sure to first visit the official webpage of the firm and check to see that they indeed offer apps. In fact, best to just follow the links from their official website.
    5. Mining scams. Other scams targeting ERC20 wallets and coins are scams promising mining returns. Be careful to fully vet any cloud mining offers. Read reviews. Do thorough research.

    The strongest lesson to learn, above all else, is ... be skeptical. It sounds simple but it is quite important. It can also be a difficult mindset to stay in when presented with seemingly incredible opportunities. There’s a word in crypto: FOMO -- Fear Of Missing Out. The key word is fear. When people feel this particular fear, that they may miss out on an amazing opportunity (ETH giveaway) or miss out on making a great trade (thus not double checking a URL and instead being phished) or any other type of fear-inducing emotion -- they can become clouded in mind and deed. Remaining skeptical helps keep the mind clear and avoid mistakes.

  • So, is MyEtherWallet safe or not?

    The fact is this: MEW is safe. Nevertheless, the crypto world is more dangerous than the average financial world of stocks and bonds. It’s paramount to act responsibly. If you do, then you can consider MyEtherWallet is safe, and one of the safest wallets out there.

    To wield great responsibility you need power. And knowledge is power. A positive fount of knowledge can be found in our Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to Cryptocurrency Investing. Inside are comprehensive guides on using the most secure exchanges, finding safe wallets, and practical steps on increasing the security of one's investments. After all, knowing is half the battle. The other half is putting your knowledge into practice.

Posted by R.R. Hauxley

R.R. Hauxley traveled around the world ... 1 year on 1 Bitcoin. 20 countries, 12 months, 1 Bitcoin. He wrote a book about it: Stolen Wallets and Where to Buy Them. Along the way he met and interviewed the sharpest, brightest minds in crypto today: Vitalik Buterin, Charlie Lee, and more. Today Rafael educates the crypto curious and delves further into the incredible world of blockchain.

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