The Safest Way to Use MetaMask With Ledger Hardware Wallet

Beginner Jul 12, 2021 · 6 min read

MetMask
Key Takeaways:
— Security is always a concern for anything on the internet, and so is the case for cryptocurrencies. With the increasing user base, the number of crypto hacks and thefts is also on the rise.
— The first step to securing your crypto assets is to store them in a non-custodial cryptocurrency wallet such as MetaMask. The wallet offers you easy access to a multitude of blockchain-based services.
— Hot wallets such as MetaMask remain connected to the internet, which entails some risks.
— In this article, we will explore how you can ensure maximum safety by using your MetaMask with a Ledger hardware wallet.

Discover the safest way to use MetaMask with a Ledger hardware wallet.

What is MetaMask?

Represented using the face of a fox, MetaMask is a cryptocurrency wallet that is arguably the most popular and trusted among crypto 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 enables you to store crypto assets based on Ethereum, Binance Smart Chain, Polygon, and other blockchains. Unlike a bank or a wallet on a crypto exchange, MetaMask is not interested in controlling your funds or your transactions. So, as long as you secure your wallet the right way and own your private keys, only you will control your money.

It is also categorized as a “hot wallet,” meaning that the wallet 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 does come at a cost.

Rewards that Tag Along With the Risks

Cryptocurrencies and blockchains have more use cases than you can possibly imagine. Most are found on decentralized applications (dApps) and decentralized finance (DeFi) protocols.

MetaMask was built to work with these applications and lower the barriers to entry for crypto users. You can use your MetaMask credentials to access these services in a single click.

Whenever you open a dApp or a DeFi protocol, you can click on the “Connect” button and use your MetaMask credentials to sign in on the platform. Here are a few things you can do using MetaMask:

  • Withdraw loans from or lend your assets for a handsome interest
  • Buy, sell, trade NFTs on marketplaces
  • Play blockchain based games
  • Start yield farming
  • Sign up for NFT and cryptocurrency airdrops

Risks associated with hot wallets

Anything connected to the internet is not entirely secure, not even the government systems that suck in billions of dollars to maintain high levels of security. The same goes for MetaMask. It is connected to the internet and thus leaves room for hackers to attack and steal users’ funds.

To gain access to someone’s funds, a hacker can remotely install malware to access the user’s browser and make alterations to drain the funds into their wallet.

For example, a Reddit user explains here how a hacker hacked his system to transfer 1.98 ETH worth approximately 5,000 dollars at the time of writing to another wallet. The Redditor also added that a potential malware installed in their system changed any copied crypto wallet address to a different one upon pasting; this type of scam exploits blind signing to gain access to your funds – this is something all hot wallet users should be aware of. Last year in April, the official MetaMask wallet of a crypto project called EasyFi got hacked, losing over 75 million dollars worth of crypto assets.

And these attacks are commonplace because hackers do not need to access your wallet directly. Instead, they can rig your computer system or just your browser to attain 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.

Use MetaMask with your hardware wallet

Now that you know the risks, you may wonder if there’s a way you can use MetaMask without hindering your security? Of course, there is: leveraging the security of a cold wallet with the accessibility and ease of a hot wallet.

In general, using a cold wallet such as Ledger Nano is the smartest and most secure way to store the private keys, which act as proof of crypto assets you own. The Ledger Nano stores your private keys offline and guarantees that no one on the internet can tamper with them. That’s why a combination of Ledger and MetaMask is considered to be the safest and smoothest alternative.

Such a combination provides you with a physical U2F. Meaning that you will need to physically connect your Nano wallet to your computer to sign and confirm every transaction requested through MetaMask. As you can guess, this makes the hackers’ job quite difficult. This is what makes using the combination of MetaMask and Ledger so secure.

First, get yourself a Ledger hardware wallet to safeguard your private keys. Ledger devices come with a software called Ledger Live (available on mobile & desktop), which is basically the equivalent of the app store to the iphone, providing you with a safe gateway to all your crypto services and downloadable for free through this link.

Once in Ledger Live, create your Ethereum account by clicking on ‘accounts’ on the left hand side, then ‘add an Ethereum account’.

After that, you can turn your Fiat ($,£,€, etc.) into Ethereum (Cryptocurrency). For most of you the easiest way to do that will be via Wyre/Coinify on Ledger live.

Next you will be able to use the Ethereum account you created in Ledger Live on MetaMask from within the security of your Ledger device.

Sounds great? Let’s walk you through the steps of how you can connect Ledger to MetaMask.

Step 1. Connect your Ledger Nano to your computer device using a USB cable. Also, open your MetaMask wallet in full screen on your browser.

Step 2: Click on the top-right menu of the MetaMask wallet and then find and click on “Connect Hardware Wallet” in the drop-down menu.

Step 3: When you click “Continue,” MetaMask will look for a Ledger device connected to the computer. So, to make sure it discovers your wallet, unlock your Ledger device. 

Step 4: Once it discovers your wallet, it will prompt you to choose a Ledger account that you would want to connect to MetaMask. Choose the one you prefer and finish (or create one from Ledger Live if you have none).

Step 5:  Some last steps to make sure everything runs smoothly.

  1. Click on the “Ethereum application” on your hardware wallet display then click on “settings” and turn on “blind signing” (please make sure you’re aware of the risks associated with blind signing). Or else it won’t work properly. 
  2. Open the MetaMask window, click on the account logo on the top right corner, scroll down to “settings” and click. Then click “advanced settings”, scroll down and turn on “use with Ledger Live”. 

Tada, This will enable you to view your Ledger wallet balance on your MetaMask extension. You will also be able to transact across all blockchain applications that support MetaMask. The only thing you will need is to connect your Ledger wallet to your device open Ledger Live, verify and sign the transactions.

Step 6. Enjoy your ride: you can now interact with your favorite dApps from within the security of your hardware wallet, by selecting MetaMask on login.

If you’re having any trouble or feel a bit lost, this support page might be of help.

Take your assets’ security to the next level

Every few days there’s news about the theft of cryptocurrencies. In some instances, the loopholes of centralized platforms are to blame while in others, it’s the fault of the end-users. But you… you do not have to deal with that. You can simply peg together your MetaMask and Ledger device and make sure you give hackers a hard time!

If you’re keen to learn more about protecting your crypto assets, check out our article on blind signing – essential advice for making safe, transparent transactions.

For our dazzling School of Block episode on the vibrant new world of crypto avatars, click right here!

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