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How To Connect Your Ledger Wallet To Metamask Securely

Read 6 min
Beginner
Black closed belt on a black background.
KEY TAKEAWAYS:
— To retain custody over your crypto assets, you’ll need to use a non-custodial wallet, such as Metamask or Ledger. However, the security of non-custodial wallets can vary greatly.

— Software wallets such as MetaMask remain connected to the internet, whereas hardware wallets, such as Ledger, store private keys in an isolated environment.

— Software and hardware wallets aren’t in competition; there are specific instances where you will even use them together.

If you’re exploring blockchain apps and platforms in the wonderful world of web3, you’ve probably heard about Metamask.

Represented using the face of a fox, MetaMask is one of the most popular crypto wallets today, and certainly the most famous hot wallet so far. However, to use MetaMask securely, it’s good practice to use it in combination with a hardware wallet such as a Ledger device.

But before we get there, let’s dive into the basics. In fact, what is MetaMask all about?

What Is MetaMask?

MetaMask is a non-custodial cross-chain software wallet. To explain what that means, let’s break that down.

So firstly, MetaMask is non-custodial: it allows you to control and manage your own private keys. Unlike a bank or a wallet on a crypto exchange, MetaMask does not have any power over the funds in your account. As long as you’re the only one with access to those private keys, you are the sole owner and manager of your account.

Next, it’s cross-chain, as MetaMask allows you to manage accounts on multiple networks, including Ethereum, Binance Smart Chain and Polygon. Specifically, MetaMask supports EVM chains, and may even branch out to other networks in future.

And finally, it’s a software wallet. This means it operates purely via software— via a plugin that you can install on Chrome, Brave, and Firefox internet browser. This means its interface is connected to the internet, which makes it very accessing blockchain applications (dApps). But it also means that MetaMask stores your private keys within the software’s interface, plus, it signs transactions while connected to the internet. To understand how this works, let’s firstly dive into its purpose.

What is MetaMask For?

Cryptocurrencies and blockchains have more use cases than you can possibly imagine, and to access all of them you’ll need a crypto wallet. More specifically, most decentralized applications (dApps) and decentralized finance (DeFi) protocols only support a few different wallets, and often, MetaMask will make that short list.

This is simply because MetaMask was designed to work with these applications. Since you can use your MetaMask credentials to access these services with ease, it lowers the barrer to entry for new crypto users.

Thus, there are countless blockchain apps and platforms you can connect to with Metamask, with almost too many features and genres to name, but here are a few things you can do using MetaMask:

MetaMask Crypto Wallets: What Are The Risks?

But as with any good thing, using MetaMask comes with some risks. 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.

Essentially, software wallets, including MetaMask, generate and protect your private keys on your host device, such as your smartphone or laptop. This same device is connected to the internet and thus leaves room for hackers to attack and steal users’ funds. If a hacker gains access to that internet connected device, they may be able to install malware to tamper with your screen, or even worse, manage to extract your private keys to immediately drain your funds.

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 software 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, MetaMask also recommends you use a hardware wallet if you own a significant amount of crypto. Luckily, you can actually use these two wallets together to get the best of both worlds. Yes, you can combine the Web3 agility of MetaMask with the offline security of a hardware device.

Why You’d Want To Use MetaMask with Ledger

In general, using a hardware wallet is the most secure way to store the private keys. That’s because they store your private keys and sign transactions offline. This guarantees that no one on the internet can access them. Connecting an account on your Ledger with a Metamask wallet allows you to protect your private keys, sign transactions offline, and still access all of the apps and platforms you want.

Essentially it provides you with a physical U2F. To clarify, you will need to physically connect your Ledger device to your computer. Then you will have to confirm every transaction on the physical device each time you initiate it 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.

How To Set Up Metamask To Connect To Ledger

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.

From there, you’ll also need to install Metamask. MetaMask is a browser extension compatible with Chrome, Firefox, Brave and Edge, so make sure you’re using a compatible internet browser before you get started. Plus, make sure to find the official Metamask website to download the wallet fake wallet sites are a potential scam you could encounter.

Once you have those elements sorted, you’re ready to begin. Here’s a step by step guide on how to set it up:

  1. Open Ledger Live and Click on “Accounts” on the left hand side.
  2. Create your Ethereum account by clicking ‘add an Ethereum account’
  3. Open Metamask to set up a new wallet. Here you’ll then face an important question: create new wallet, or import existing wallet. Here, opt to create new wallet. We’ll explain why below.
  4. Approve the next page: this relates to sharing data with MetaMask
  5. Create a password when prompted on the page that follows: this will be your login credential for each time you want to use MetaMask going forward.
  6. On the next screen, you’ll receive the recovery phrase words for your MetaMask wallet. Once you’ve confirmed that you’ve seen and recorded this phrase, your MetaMask set-up is complete.

Which Recovery Phrase Do I use?

You might be wondering at this point what the difference is between the MetaMask recovery phrase and the one you received when you first set up your Ledger device.

The answer is pretty 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 an important vulnerability that all software wallets suffer – your keys and seed phrase are all generated online within the interface, and as you know, this leaves them open to hacks and spyware deployed via your connection. This is why it is so essential to use a wallet that generates this data offline and keeps it there.

In this process, we will be showing you how to use your Ledger device as your wallet, while leveraging MetaMask browser extension as an intermediary for interacting with Web3. This means that for you, the relevant words remain your Ledger recovery phrase. Make sure it’s stored safely, you know the drill!

How To Connect Your Ledger To Metamask

With that all clear, let’s walk through the steps of how you can connect Ledger to MetaMask, to enjoy seamless transactions while your keys stay entirely offline.

Step 1. Connect your Ledger device to your computer device using a USB cable. Also, open your MetaMask wallet in full screen on your browser. You can do this by logging in with the password you just set up.

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 device 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 “WebHID”. 

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.

Metamask and Ledger: Accessible and Secure

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!

Knowledge is Power.


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