Web3 security: risks and best practices for staying safe

Web3 security: risks and best practices for staying safe

Web3 stands out as a new wave of innovation, offering a future where users have more control over their data and online interactions. However, this potential also brings new challenges, especially in security. Let's carefully look into the security risks of Web3, giving you the information you need to move forward in this exciting yet risky area safely.

Key takeaways

  • Web3 marks the start of a decentralized internet, focusing on better privacy, security, and control over data for users.

  • Companies like IBM, Walmart, and Visa are embracing Web3. They're navigating through complex tech and changes in how things are done but find value in the stronger security and smoother operations it offers.

  • The security setup of Web3 relies on spreading out data, using secure codes, and self-executing contracts to protect against common online threats.

  • Despite its advantages, Web3 isn't free from security challenges such as issues in contract code or scams aiming to steal information.

  • Moving to Web3 in a way that works well means putting together a solid plan for staying safe, keeping up with new information, and using the right tech.

What is Web3?

Web3 represents the internet's new era, embracing decentralization and blockchain technology. This approach contrasts with Web2's centralized model, where big tech firms hold the reins. This shift aims to give people back control over their data, prioritizing their privacy and security, which were major concerns in the previous internet phase.

Thanks to a growing interest in cryptocurrencies, decentralized apps, and smart contracts, Web3 is expanding quickly. Its core values include transparency, the empowerment of users, and a secure, unchangeable record of transactions. The goal is to build an internet that values fairness and centers around its users.

The transformative impact of Web3 on businesses

Web3 offers businesses enhanced security by distributing data across decentralized networks. Many companies, big and small, are exploring it. IBM, a technology giant, uses blockchain to streamline operations and increase data integrity. Walmart, a retail powerhouse, employs blockchain technology to build supply chain transparency and consumer trust. Visa, a global payments leader, settles transactions in cryptocurrency, exploring decentralized finance's potential. Nike, a sportswear innovator, ventured into digital assets by acquiring a digital sneakers studio and tapped into new markets. Starbucks, a coffeehouse chain, introduces a blockchain loyalty program offering customers transparency in their coffee journey. Maersk, the world's largest shipping company, improves global trade efficiency with its blockchain solution, TradeLens.

Despite these benefits, businesses face challenges like technological complexity and regulatory uncertainty. Adapting to Web3 requires shifts in corporate culture toward decentralization. 

Web3's cybersecurity backbone

Web3 cybersecurity includes features that make the digital world safer and more trustworthy. Let's go through them one by one, explaining what each is and how it boosts security.

Web3 cybersecurity features

  1. Decentralization spreads data across many nodes, which reduces the risk of big data breaches and eliminates single points of failure. This setup makes it harder for attackers to compromise the entire system.

  2. Cryptography involves complex algorithms to secure data and transactions. It ensures that information is only accessible to those who are supposed to see it, keeping data confidential and integral.

  3. Immutable ledger is a record that no one can change once something is added. This transparency prevents tampering and builds trust among users, as everyone can see the transaction history.

  4. Smart contracts automatically execute transactions when conditions are met. This reduces the chance of errors and fraud since no human intervention is needed once the contract is set.

  5. Identity and access management (IAM) controls who gets access to what information. It verifies the identity of users and restricts access to sensitive data, ensuring that only authorized persons can see it.

  6. The Zero Trust model follows the principle of never trusting anyone by default, even if they are inside the system. It always requires verification, which minimizes unauthorized access.

  7. Tokenization turns rights to an asset into a digital token. This secures ownership and exchange of assets by encrypting the details and storing them on the blockchain.

  8. Privacy-enhancing technologies let people complete transactions without exposing personal information. Techniques like zk-SNARKs allow for transaction privacy, providing security without sacrificing confidentiality. 

  9. Two-factor authentication (2FA) adds an extra layer of security by requiring a second verification, reducing the risk of unauthorized access.

  10. Permissioned blockchain allows organizations to manage who can join their network. This control over access makes private transactions more secure.

Together, these features build a safer Web3 environment, where data is protected and trust is a cornerstone.

Cybersecurity risks of Web3

Despite its robust security framework, Web3 is not immune to cybersecurity risks. Understanding them is the first step toward mitigating potential security issues.

Web3 cybersecurity risks

Smart contract vulnerabilities

Sometimes, smart contracts on blockchain networks have flaws. These issues can allow unauthorized access or cause financial losses. Conducting audits on these contracts is a key part of keeping Web3 safe, as it helps find and fix these issues early.

Phishing attacks

Phishing attacks trick users into giving away sensitive information. They often target crypto wallet users with fake emails or websites. Teaching people about these dangers and using two-factor authentication can really help lower the chances of these attacks succeeding.


Front-running is when someone acts on information about upcoming transactions in decentralized finance (DeFi) to their benefit. This practice can make decentralized apps less fair and secure. 

Sybil attacks

A Sybil attack occurs when someone creates many fake identities to disrupt a decentralized network. This can undermine how decentralized apps work. Using strong identity and access management solutions is necessary to prevent such problems.

51% attacks

If a group gets control of most of a blockchain's computing power, they can manipulate the network. Ensuring the mining power is spread out and making the blockchain technology more secure are good ways to stop these attacks.

DeFi exploits

DeFi platforms can have security weaknesses that might be exploited, leading to big losses. Doing regular checks on these platforms and their smart contracts helps find and address security gaps.

Rug pulls

Rug pulls occur when crypto project developers suddenly take all the invested money, leaving investors with nothing. Having clear transparency and community involvement can help avoid these scams in decentralized projects.

Privacy issues

Blockchain technology does make transactions more private and secure. But, there's still a chance that transactions could accidentally reveal someone's identity. 

Network congestion

When blockchain networks get too busy, it slows down transactions and can raise costs. Developing scalable solutions and designing efficient networks are important to keep Web3 working smoothly and securely.

Regulatory compliance risks

As laws around Web3 keep evolving, staying on top of these changes is crucial for projects, especially those in DeFi and cryptocurrencies. Being aware of and following these laws helps Web3 projects avoid legal issues and succeed in the long run.

Best practices for staying safe in Web3

Adopting a proactive approach to security is essential in navigating the Web3 landscape safely. Here are key best practices to consider.

Web3 security best practices

Conduct regular security audits

Regular security audits, including smart contract audits, are crucial for spotting and fixing security vulnerabilities in smart contracts and decentralized applications (dApps). 

During these audits, security experts examine the code to confirm its safety and correct operation. This kind of review is vital because it helps prevent potential exploits and attacks that could compromise the system. 

Smart contract audits are a specialized part of these examinations, focusing on the integrity and security of the contracts that automate operations and transactions on the blockchain. 

Implement two-factor authentication (2FA)

2FA adds an extra layer of security beyond just a password, requiring users to provide a second piece of evidence of their identity. It’s crucial for protecting accounts, especially for crypto wallets and exchange platforms. Major crypto exchanges advocate for using 2FA.

Use a hardware wallet for crypto assets

Storing crypto assets in a hardware wallet is one of the safest methods, as it keeps the assets offline and out of reach from online threat actors. Hardware wallets have proven effective against many Web3 security threats. They are particularly suitable for individuals and companies holding significant crypto assets.

Educate yourself and your team

Education on Web3 security is fundamental. Understanding the landscape of security threats can empower individuals and organizations to make informed decisions and adopt safe practices. 

This includes learning about phishing scams, the importance of private key management, and the latest security threats. Companies like the Ethereum Foundation often host workshops and provide resources, underscoring the importance of continuous education in mitigating security risks in Web3.

Leverage decentralized identity solutions

Decentralized identity solutions offer a secure and privacy-preserving way of managing identities online. By allowing users to control their identity without relying on central authorities, these solutions reduce the risk of identity theft and fraud. Microsoft’s ION, a decentralized identity network built on the Bitcoin blockchain, showcases how such technology can be implemented.

Keep software and wallets updated

Regular software and wallet updates ensure that you have the latest security enhancements and bug fixes. Developers constantly update their applications to address new threats and security vulnerabilities. Neglecting updates can leave you exposed to security risks that have already been fixed in newer versions. This practice is crucial for all users and companies in the Web3 space to maintain high levels of security.

Practice safe transaction habits

Safe transaction habits include double-checking addresses before sending crypto, using trusted platforms, and verifying smart contract actions. These habits can prevent common mistakes that lead to losses. 

While this practice is fundamental for everyone in the Web3 ecosystem, it is especially critical for businesses engaging in frequent and large-scale transactions.

Monitor smart contract and wallet activities

Monitoring tools can provide real-time alerts on suspicious activities, helping users and developers react quickly to potential security threats. This proactive approach can prevent significant losses by detecting unauthorized transactions or changes in smart contract behavior. 

Platforms like Etherscan offer services that enable both individuals and companies to keep an eye on their assets and smart contracts, enhancing overall Web3 security.

Use secure communication channels

Secure communication channels are vital for discussing sensitive information, such as transaction details or private keys. Encrypted messaging apps or secure email services can protect against eavesdropping and phishing attacks. This practice is particularly important for organizations that handle large amounts of sensitive data, ensuring that internal communications are not vulnerable to security risks.

Implement a robust access control system

A robust access control system ensures that only authorized personnel access critical systems and information. This can include using multi-signature wallets for company funds and Identity and Access Management (IAM) solutions for controlling access to sensitive data. Such measures are crucial for organizations to protect against insider threats and unauthorized access.

Plan for incident response

Having an incident response plan in place is critical for quickly addressing security breaches. This plan should include steps for isolating affected systems, communicating with stakeholders, and conducting a post-mortem analysis to prevent future incidents. Additionally, some companies offer services that help track stolen funds.

Participate in bug bounty programs

Bug bounty programs encourage the discovery and reporting of vulnerabilities in software and systems. Participating in or hosting such programs can uncover and resolve security issues before malicious actors can exploit them. Several platforms host bug bounty programs for various Web3 security projects.

Diversify asset holdings

Diversifying asset holdings can mitigate the risk of major losses due to attacks or downturns in specific cryptocurrencies or platforms. By spreading investments across different assets and storage solutions, individuals and companies reduce their exposure to any single point of failure. 

This strategy is particularly relevant in the volatile Web3 market, where the value and security stability of assets can dramatically change. Real-world examples include investment firms and crypto funds that allocate their portfolios across various blockchain networks, crypto assets, and DeFi platforms to safeguard against unforeseen security threats.


Web3 technology, with its decentralized networks, smart contracts, and tools that enhance privacy, plays a key role in making the digital world safer and more trustworthy. Decentralization spreads data across several places, which makes it more resilient against attacks and breaches. Cryptography keeps transactions and data safe, while records that no one can change boost transparency and trust. All these parts work together to create a strong foundation for Web3 cybersecurity, offering new ways to secure digital interactions.

Yet, diving into Web3 comes with its own set of challenges. Issues like security vulnerabilities in smart contracts, phishing attacks, and other security threats are real concerns that need careful attention.

When considering moving to Web3, it's wise to take a careful but positive stance. The opportunity Web3 offers to change how businesses operate and interact with customers is immense. However, stepping into this new territory should be done with a solid plan for security.

It's important to carry out regular security audits, which include checking smart contracts thoroughly to spot and fix any weak spots. Using two-factor authentication, teaching teams about the security risks they might face, and using advanced security measures like IAM and Zero Trust solutions are all effective ways to reduce these risks. To ensure your business is secure as you navigate Web3, NordLayer offers the tools and support you might need. Our sales team is here for you; don't hesitate to reach out.

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