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Eye On Cyber: So What Is Bitcoin?

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- If you've seen the news about Bitcoin lately, you're probably wondering whether it's a scam, a craze or if it's here to stay.

The answer may be a bit of each, but Bitcoin is increasingly finding its way into everyday life, reports CBS2's cyber security expert Siobhan Gorman.

So what is Bitcoin? It's is a digital currency, often called a cryptocurrency, that can be used like other assets to purchase goods and services.

The term cryptocurrency can sound suspicious, but it just means the currency has additional security that makes it hard to counterfeit.

Bitcoin runs on a technology called blockchain, which stores records of each Bitcoin transaction on a distributed network, or ledger system, that makes it very tough to hack.

Businesses that accept Bitcoin include Microsoft and You can even purchase groceries at Whole Foods with a gift card purchased in Bitcoin from a company called Gyft.

If you buy Bitcoin, or any cryptocurrency, you do need to make sure that you're doing it safely. You can store it on a physical device, like a USB drive, so it can't be swiped online.

And if you store your Bitcoin in an online wallet, make sure you take security precautions like strong passwords and two-factor authentication, which requires two forms of verification to access your account.

It's OK to try out cryptocurrency if you're careful but make sure to take the same online security precautions as you would for other types of digital accounts.

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