discover the safest way to use metamask with a ledger hardware wallet.
what is the metamask?
Represented with the face of a fox, metamask is a cryptocurrency wallet that is possibly the most popular and trusted among cryptocurrency users. It comes as a plugin that you can install on Chrome, Brave, and Firefox internet browsers.
metamask is a non-custodial cross-chain wallet that allows you to store crypto assets based on ethereum, binance smart chain, polygon and other blockchains. Unlike a bank or wallet on a crypto exchange, metamask is not interested in monitoring your funds or your transactions. so as long as you secure your wallet the right way and own your private keys, only you control your money.
It is also classified as a “software wallet”, which means that the interface is connected to the internet to enable certain functionalities on the web. this significantly improves ease of use when accessing blockchain applications (dapps), but it comes at a cost.
metamask: rewards that come with risks
Cryptocurrencies and blockchains have more use cases than you can imagine. most are found in decentralized applications (dapps) and decentralized finance protocols (defi).
metamask was built to work with these applications and lower the barriers to entry for cryptocurrency users. you can use your metamask credentials to access these services with one click.
Whenever you open a dapp or defi protocol, you can click the “connect” button and use your metamask credentials to log in to the platform. here are some things you can do using metamask:
- withdraw loans or lend your assets for good interest
- buy, sell, trade nfts on markets
- play blockchain-based games
- start yield farming
- sign up for nft and cryptocurrency airdrops
but like all good things, using metamask comes with some risks. nothing connected to the internet is completely secure, not even the government systems that gobble up billions of dollars to maintain high levels of security. the same goes for the metamask. it is connected to the internet and thus leaves room for hackers to attack and steal user funds.
To gain access to someone’s funds, a hacker can remotely install malware to access the user’s browser and perform modifications to drain the funds in their wallet.
For example, a reddit user explains here how a hacker hacked into their system to transfer 1.98 eth worth approximately $5,000 at time of writing to another wallet. The redditor also added that possible malware installed on his system changed any copied crypto wallet address to a different one by pasting it; This type of scam exploits blind signing to gain access to your funds; this is something that all software wallet users should be aware of. In April of last year, the official metamask wallet of a crypto project called easyfi was hacked and more than $75 million worth of crypto assets were lost.
And these attacks are common because hackers don’t need to access your wallet directly. instead, they can manipulate your computer system or just your browser to get the information they need to steal your funds.
For these reasons, even metamask recommends its user to get a hardware wallet if they own a significant amount of crypto.
So it stands to reason that the sweet spot is to have the web3 agility of metamask and the offline security of a hardware wallet, and here’s exactly how to achieve it. time to set it up!
first things first: your 2-minute metamask setup
metamask is a browser extension compatible with chrome, firefox, brave, and edge, so the best way to get started is to make sure you’re using a supported internet browser.
- from there, find the metamask download link via search and download the app in your browser.
- then you will be faced with an important question: do you believe a new wallet, or import existing wallet. here, choose to create new wallet. we’ll explain why below.
- pass the next page – this is related to sharing data with metamask
- create a password when prompted on the next page – this will be your login credential login for each time you want to use metamask in the future.
- on the next screen, you will receive the recovery phrase words for your metamask wallet. once you’ve confirmed that you’ve seen and recorded this phrase, your metamask setup is complete.
what recovery phrase do I use?
You may be wondering at this point what the difference is between the recovery phrase in the metamask and the one you received when you first set up your accounting device.
The answer is quite simple: each phrase relates to a separate set of addresses on the blockchain. the difference is that the ledger recovery phrase has never been exposed online, while the metamask phrase has. This is a major vulnerability that all software wallets suffer from: their keys and seed phrases are generated online within the interface, and as you know, this leaves them open to hacking and spyware deployed through your connection. That’s why it’s so essential to use a wallet that generates this data offline and stores it there.
In this process, we will show you how to use your nano ledger as your wallet, while leveraging the metamask browser extension as an intermediary to interact with web3. this means that for you, the relevant words remain your ledger retrieval phrase. make sure it’s stored safely, you know the exercise!
how to use metamask with your hardware wallet
Now that you know the risks, you may be wondering if there is a way to use metamask without hindering your security. of course there is: leveraging it in conjunction with your hardware wallet.
Overall, using a hardware wallet like ledger nano is the smartest and most secure way to store your private keys, which act as proof of the crypto assets you own. the ledger nano stores your private keys offline and ensures that no one on the internet can tamper with them. that’s why a combination of ledger and metamask is considered the safest and smoothest alternative.
such a combination gives you a physical u2f. which means you will need to physically connect your nano wallet to your computer to sign and confirm each transaction requested through metamask. As you can guess, this makes hackers’ job quite difficult. this is what makes using the combination of metamask and ledger so safe.
first, get a ledger hardware wallet to protect your private keys. ledger devices come with software called ledger live (available on mobile and desktop), which is basically the iphone app store equivalent, giving you a secure gateway to all your crypto services and You can download it for free through this link.
once in ledger live, create your ethereum account by clicking ‘accounts’ on the left hand side, then ‘add an ethereum account’.
After that, you can convert your fiat ($,£,€, etc.) into ethereum (cryptocurrency). For most of you, the easiest way to do this will be through wyre/coinify on ledger live.
You will then be able to use the ethereum account you created on ledger live in metamask from the security of your ledger device. That brings us to our next big question: how do you configure metamask?
With all that clear, let’s go through the steps of how you can connect the ledger to the metamask, to enjoy seamless transactions while your keys remain completely offline.
step 1. connect your ledger nano to your computer using a usb cable. also, open your metamask wallet in full screen in your browser. you can do this by logging in with the password you just set.
Step 2: Click the top right menu of the metamask wallet and then find and click “connect hardware wallet” in the dropdown menu.
step 3: when you click “continue”, metamask will search for a logging device connected to the computer. So to make sure you discover your wallet, please unlock your accounting device.
step 4: once you discover your wallet, it will ask you to choose a ledger account you want to connect to metamask. choose the one you prefer and finish (or create one from ledger live if you don’t have one).
step 5: a few last steps to make sure everything runs smoothly.
- click “ethereum app” on your hardware wallet screen, then click “settings” and enable “blind signing” (make sure you know the risks associated with blind signing). or else it will not work properly.
- open the metamask window, click the account logo in the top right corner, scroll down to “settings” and click. then click “advanced settings”, scroll down and enable “webhid”.
tada, this will allow you to see your ledger wallet balance in your metamask extension. you will also be able to transact in all blockchain applications that support metamask. all you need to do is connect your ledger wallet to your device, open the live ledger, verify and sign transactions.
step 6. enjoy your ride – you can now interact with your favorite dapps from the safety of your hardware wallet, by selecting metamask when logging in.
if you have any problems or feel a bit lost, this support page can help you.
take your asset security to the next level
every few days there is news about cryptocurrency theft. in some cases, the loopholes of centralized platforms are to blame, while in others, it is the fault of the end users. but you… you don’t have to deal with it. you can simply attach your metamask and accounting device and make sure the hackers have a hard time!