MetaMask is one of the most popular wallets for storing crypto, NFTs, and other digital assets. With more than 30 million monthly active users, its reputation as the go-to crypto wallet continues to grow. But, is MetaMask safe?
I’ve been using MetaMask for years now without any safety issues. But that doesn’t mean this self-custody wallet is completely safe. Below you’ll learn what makes MetaMask safe, the risks of using it, and a potentially better alternative.
Table of Contents
Is MetaMask Safe?
MetaMask is a secure self-custody wallet that offers several security features to protect your Ethereum-based assets. It uses encryption and biometrics to protect against unwarranted access and allows users to manage crypto investments safely. MetaMask is a great wallet for beginners who are looking to explore the blockchain safely.
MetaMask Security Features
Here are MetaMask’s main security features.
12-word private key
Your 12-word phrase is the key to accessing and controlling your MetaMask wallet and the assets within. Without this key, it’s nearly impossible to gain access to your account. MetaMask randomly generates a seed phrase for you when you create a new wallet. Since it’s a self-custody wallet, you own this key.
Your MetaMask password is the second layer of defense to keep unwanted folks out. If you forget your password, you can reset it by entering your private key. If your private key is already entered and someone knows your password then they can access your account.
Biometric facial recognition is MetaMask’s third line of defense. This feature is only available on the mobile app and should be enabled. It’s important to note that if you enable facial recognition it overrides the need for a password to be entered.
The main concern regarding MetaMask and other similar crypto wallets is that it’s a software (hot) wallet. This simply means that it is always connected to the internet.
Whether you are using the MetaMask Chrome extension or the app, all of your wallet’s private info remains on either your computer or mobile device, which is connected to the web. This makes it more susceptible to scams and phishing attacks.
Privacy and Anonymity
MetaMask doesn’t require you to submit any personal information to create a wallet. Instead, you maintain complete control over your private key and your assets.
Additionally, MetaMask doesn’t store user data—at least not if you don’t want it to. You control what MetaMask is allowed to store. When you first set up your wallet, you’ll be asked to share certain data to help MetaMask improve its product. Of course, you don’t have to agree to this.
Moreover, there are additional data points the wallet may use to provide you with the best user experience such as automatically importing NFTs into your wallet. These preferences can be changed in the settings.
Can MetaMask Be Hacked?
A MetaMask wallet can be hacked if the user allows it. For a MetaMask wallet to be hacked you would have to sign a malicious transaction using your wallet which would grant the hacker access or you would have to give out your private key. Both of these “hacks” are user errors that can be avoided.
Below are the most common MetaMask hacks.
Phishing links are the number one way MetaMask users are hacked. Hackers will create a malicious website in hopes that you will connect your web3 wallet to it. Generally, there is an incentive to get you to click on a link and connect your wallet to the site.
These incentives can be free crypto or NFTs and even fake websites that imitate popular NFT projects and marketplaces. In fact, there have been times when Google listed fake Opensea websites at the top of the search rankings.
Then without realizing it’s a fake site, users go to the site, connect their wallets, and then lose all of their digital assets. How does this happen? It’s simple.
Upon connecting your wallet to the site you are prompted to approve the connection (this is a normal request). However, this specific request is actually asking for your approval to access your wallet.
Once you sign the transaction, the hacker gains access and sends all of your assets to their own wallet.
Keylogging is another type of attack that can be used to gain access to your MetaMask wallet in a number of ways. Although a keylogging attack isn’t as common as a phishing attack, they still happen.
Essentially, a scammer will install keylogger software on your device in an attempt to record your keystrokes.
By recording your strokes, a hacker could learn your MetaMask password or even your private phrase. Of course with this info, they can gain access to your account.
Moreover, if a keylogger isn’t successful in recording your private phrase or password, the hacker could still get access to files on your device where you might have your private wallet info stored.
That’s why it’s crucial to never store your wallet’s private info anywhere online, including your computer, mobile device, or cloud server.
A dusting attack is where a scammer sends numerous amount of digital assets (crypto or NFTs) to multiple wallet addresses in hopes the user will somehow interact with the asset.
The asset itself generally isn’t dangerous, however, its aim is to lead you to a link that is malicious. Oftentimes, scammers will send an NFT to your MetaMask wallet that has a bid on it.
But, when you go to accept the bid, it doesn’t work. Instead, a message appears prompting you to take action by visiting a website for the solution. Upon visiting this website, you are hacked.
In an attempt to prevent users from falling for this scam, MetaMask doesn’t display any tokens that you didn’t manually add to your wallet yourself.
However, these tokens are still there, and in the case of NFTs, you will see them displayed on your profile when you visit an NFT marketplace.
Fake MetaMask representatives
Another common scam involves fake MetaMask customer service and support representatives reaching out to you via social media comments, DMs, and emails in an attempt to connect with you.
Although this can be random at times, it often occurs when you use “trigger words” on social media. These trigger words then prompt bots to spam the comments section and your DM with fake reps who claim they can help you.
You’d be surprised how many people fall for this scam. That said, real people are behind these bots and they put in the effort to get on a video call with you.
Once you’re chatting, they request that you screen share your computer and sign into your wallet so that they can better assist you.
From there, they have all the info they need to access your account and steal your digital assets.
Notably, these fake representatives don’t only appear as MetaMask reps, they will also pretend to work for other popular web3-related brands like Coinbase, Ledger, and Opensea among others.
Is MetaMask Mobile Secure?
MetaMask Mobile is as safe as the Chrome extension. It’s secured by your recovery phrase, password, plus biometric authentication. However, it remains vulnerable to hacks and phishing attacks. The main downside to MetaMask Mobile is that if you lose your device someone could potentially gain access.
The better question to ask is which browser is safest to use with MetaMask. Many people who use MetaMask Mobile often browse sites using MetaMask’s browser.
This is not the safest option, especially when it comes to detecting malicious sites.
Overall, Google Chrome is one of the best web browsers to detect phishing sites and other potentially malicious websites.
So rather than searching directly on MetaMask’s browser, utilize Google Chrome and then connect your wallet after verifying that the site you’re visiting is safe.
Is It Safe to Store Crypto in MetaMask?
No, MetaMask is not the safest option for storing crypto because it stores your private key online. A hardware wallet like Keystone is a better option since it stores your private key offline. Also, MetaMask only supports Ethereum-based tokens
You might be okay storing a reasonable amount of crypto on MetaMask, but by no means should you consider it a secure long-term storage solution.
The only time you should fund your MetaMask wallet with cryptocurrency is if you’re planning to make a purchase. And depending on what you purchase, maybe it’s an NFT, you should instantly transfer your purchase along with any remaining crypto to a hardware wallet for safekeeping.
Is MetaMask Safer than Coinbase Wallet?
MetaMask is just as safe as Coinbase Wallet. These wallets have similar safety features including an active bug bounty program, a randomly generated 12-word seed phrase, biometric authentication, and are compatible with Ledger hardware wallets.
The main advantage that MetaMask has over Coinbase Wallet is its age. MetaMask has been around since 2016, whereas Coinbase Wallet (not the exchange) was founded in 2018.
That means MetaMask has had more time to discover potential flaws in its security system. Both wallets have an active bug bounty that allows developers to submit any issues they might find in the software, for a nice reward.
This incentive helps keep both wallets safe.
Here is MetaMask compared to Coinbase Wallet.
|Wallet Safety Features||MetaMask||Coinbase|
|Active bug bounty program||Yes||Yes|
|Self-custody (you own your keys)||Yes||Yes|
|Software wallet (hot wallet)||Yes||Yes|
|Randomly generated 12-word seed phrase||Yes||Yes|
|Compatible with Ledger wallets (cold wallets)||Yes||Yes|
What Wallet is Better Than MetaMask?
Hardware wallets like Keystone are better than MetaMask. Hardware wallets are physical devices that store your wallet’s private key offline which makes it nearly impossible to hack. MetaMask is always which makes it an easy target.
It’s important to note that if you decide to use a hardware wallet to store your assets, you must keep it offline to ensure it remains as secure as possible.
The common misconception is that if you use a hardware wallet like Keystone you’re completely immune to hacks. That’s not true. A hardware wallet can be hacked similarly to a software wallet.
If you connect a hardware wallet to a malicious website and you approve a transaction that enables a hacker to gain access, you’re going to get hacked.
The better option is to use your hardware wallet as a storage solution for your digital assets. That way, if your MetaMask wallet is hacked you don’t have anything stored on it.
How to Keep Your MetaMask Wallet Safe
Here are 10 tips to keep your MetaMask wallet safe.
- Only download the app from MetaMask’s official website.
- Store your seed phrase in a secure location.
- Create a secure password that you haven’t used before.
- Enable biometric authentication on the MetaMask app.
- Enable the auto-lock timer.
- Don’t store your assets on MetaMask.
- Never click on links you don’t trust.
- Always disconnect your wallet from websites.
- Avoid using public wifi.
- Use a VPN.
Even though MetaMask might not be the safest crypto wallet, I understand that it remains one of the most widely-used wallets. If you do decide to use it just make sure you know how to keep your MetaMask wallet safe.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is MetaMask safe for storing crypto?
MetaMask is okay for storing crypto temporarily. For long-term crypto storage, you need to use a hardware wallet for optimal security. Hardware wallets keep your wallet’s private key offline and away from hackers.
What security features does MetaMask have?
MetaMask has several security features including a user-generated password, biometric authentication, and a 12-word secret recovery phrase.
Is MetaMask safe from phishing attacks?
Yes, MetaMask is susceptible to phishing attacks. Always double-check URLs to prevent falling victim to phishing scams.
What is MetaMask?
MetaMask is a popular crypto wallet used by millions of people worldwide. It enables users to manage Ethereum-based coins and tokens, enabling easy sending and receiving. Plus, you can securely access decentralized apps via MetaMask’s web and mobile browsers.