Ko-Fi and Patreon act as great sources of income to many artists, cosplayers, streamers, developers, and more. They’re easy to use, you don’t need to worry about demonetization, and they help you stay in touch with your audience and market/hype new products and/or services.
That all sounds good, but let’s talk about security – are you ever at risk if you use Ko-Fi and Patreon? Well, the platforms themselves are very safe – they secure your data with HTTPS and TLS and offer secure login options like CAPTCHA tests and two-factor authentication.
Unfortunately, that’s not really enough. Even with those security measures, you’ll still liable to fall victim to traffic eavesdropping, phishing attacks, and malware infections. We’ll show you how to stay safe on these two platforms in this article.
By the way: if you’re new to Ko-Fi and Patreon and are not 100% sure how they work yet, we recommend you check GamerGirl’s guide about this topic for more details. When you’re done, just head back here to continue reading our security guide.
What Can Go Wrong Anyway?
Here are some scenarios that show you what can happen if you’re not careful while using Ko-Fi and Patreon:
You Can Fall Victim to Phishing Attacks
Scammers love targeting Patreon and Ko-Fi users with fake messages. They often pretend to represent one of the platforms and ask you to share sensitive information – like credit card numbers, tax info, and more.
They could also try to scare you (saying that your account has been temporarily deactivated) and that you need to take action by following a link to log in. Said link takes you to a fake site that imitates Patreon or Ko-Fi. Once you enter your login credentials, the hackers running the site will have access to them (and, consequently, your account!).
Another thing scammers use is promotional messages. They claim that Patreon or Ko-Fi will offer you promotional services (expose your profile to millions of users) if you pay a fee.
All in all, these kinds of attacks can cost you money (which you’ll never see back) and even your account (hackers can take over it once they have your login credentials).
Hackers Can Spy on Your Traffic
Do you often use public WiFi to access Ko-Fi and Patreon when you’re not at home? It’s convenient we know, but you really have to be careful – public WiFi is often not safe to use!
Because most public networks don’t use encryption (you don’t need a password to use them). That means anyone can use packet sniffers to spy on your traffic and steal your login credentials.
Even worse – not even secured networks are 100% safe to use. WiFi networks either use WPA2 or WPA3 for encryption. Well, WPA2 is vulnerable to a cyber attack and WPA3 also has some security issues. So your online traffic is never safe when you use WiFi.
Cybercriminals Can Steal Your Data with Malware
Hackers often use malware to take over people’s devices. They could pretend to be one of your fans and message you a malicious file – a photo, a .zip file, or a video.
If you download and interact with those files, your device will become infected with the malware: spyware, adware, trojans, ransomware – you name it!
What does that mean for you?
That your sensitive data might get stolen – credit card numbers, passwords, important documents, and even patron data (their names and email addresses, for example). A hacker could easily use that information to take over your Patreon or Ko-Fi account and empty your bank accounts.
Here’s How to Stay Safe on Ko-Fi and Patreon
Here is what we and most of our readers recommend doing:
Enable Two-Factor Authentication
We haven’t heard of Ko-Fi having this feature, but Patreon does. Basically, 2FA will add an extra step in the login process – you’ll need to enter a randomly generated code to successfully log in (on top of your username and password).
Patreon lets you set up 2FA over SMS or with an authenticator app like Google Authenticator. After typing in your username and password, you’ll receive a randomly generated code on your phone which you have to enter within a time limit (before it changes).
2FA is an excellent way to protect your account – even if hackers somehow steal your passwords, they won’t be able to compromise your account.
Use Antivirus Software
This sounds like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised how many people actually don’t use antivirus programs.
This type of software is your best line of defense against malware infections. The moment it detects any traces of malware on your device, it automatically quarantines it (prevents it from triggering).
We recommend setting up antivirus protection on all your devices – even the ones you don’t use for Ko-Fi and Patreon. Hackers could take advantage of them to infect your whole network with malware.
Use a VPN on Public WiFi
VPNs are security tools that stop anyone from seeing your IP address when you’re on the web. Also, they encrypt your Internet traffic – that pretty much means they make it unreadable. If a hacker were to try to spy on it with a packet sniffer, they’d only see gibberish. They won’t see your passwords and won’t know what sites you’re visiting.
You should always use a VPN on public WiFi – yes, even on secured networks. On top of securing your traffic, some VPNs also have ad blockers. Besides doing the obvious (blocking ads), they also block connections to malicious sites (so they can protect you from phishing attacks).
How Do You Stay Safe on Ko-Fi and Patreon?
What other measures do you take to keep your data safe when you use these platforms? We’d also love to hear what you do to stay safe while actively using the platform (to avoid harassment and stuff like that). Please leave a message in the comments below. And if you have any questions, just drop us a line and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can.