Cryptocurrencies might be a relatively new concept, but theft and hacking aren’t. While the methods are different, crypto wallets are vulnerable to theft just like a regular wallet, and hackers are always coming up with new and creative ways to trap unsuspecting users. With that in mind, using or creating a new MetaMask wallet may undoubtedly produce some anxiety.
Your MetaMask can get hacked. Most commonly, hackers gain access to a user’s private information and use that to infiltrate the MetaMask wallet. This can happen through malware, phishing scams, and fake extensions or ads posing as MetaMask.
In this article, I’ll explain the various ways your MetaMask wallet could get hacked. I’ll also discuss what to do if it does and how to protect yourself against attacks in the future.
How Does a MetaMask Wallet Get Hacked?
Given that MetaMask wallets are stored locally and guarded by a complex passphrase, crypto holders are often surprised to learn that their wallet has been hacked.
A MetaMask wallet gets hacked via malware or phishing scams. Hackers often don’t go directly for the wallet but find a way to obtain password or private key information, instead. They then use your information to access the crypto funds.
The controlling company of MetaMask doesn’t have access to your wallet information, so if you’re a victim of a hack, this usually means that the device you use to access your wallet was compromised.
Hacking Through Malware or Spyware
Malware is an umbrella term used to describe a variety of harmful software that disrupt your computer system, and if you’ve stored private information on a device, a hacker is often able to obtain this information through the use of malware.
You won’t always know when malware is installed on your computer, but it might come from any of the following:
- Compromised software or websites
- Email attachments
- Infected USB devices
If your password or private key for your MetaMask wallet is somewhere on your device, hackers would be able to find it and use it to steal whatever cryptocurrencies you have stored.
Hacking MetaMask Through a Phishing Scam
Another common way hackers obtain your information is through phishing scams. Rather than compromising your computer to find information, phishing scams are designed to trick you into giving up the information yourself.
This usually happens when you click on an unsafe link. The link takes you to a landing page that resembles a legitimate website, and you’re usually prompted to input information, such as your username and password or even your MetaMask private key.
Phishing scams are sometimes extremely sophisticated, and it can be difficult to identify a fake website from a real one, so it’s always important to check a link before you click it.
Hacking Through Fake MetaMask Extensions/Apps/Ads
Similarly, hackers create fake MetaMask extensions, apps, and advertisements that’ll ask you to fill out private information.
They’re even able to generate a fake MetaMask advertisement that appears at the top of a Google search. Clicking on the ad and downloading a compromised application or Chrome extension would ultimately lead to a MetaMask wallet hack.
These fake pathways mimic actual MetaMask products and services closely enough that they can go unnoticed.
How To Know if Your MetaMask Wallet Has Been Hacked
If your MetaMask wallet gets hacked, you won’t get a notification. The only way you’ll know is if you lose access to the wallet or find that somebody drained all of your funds.
Hackers typically don’t waste time transferring or selling off the crypto in a stolen wallet, and once they gain access, they have all the freedom to take whatever they want. Some hackers are interested in specific cryptocurrencies, and others will drain the account down to zero.
Alternatively, if you suddenly lose access to your wallet, a hacker may have changed the login information. You may still be able to recover your wallet with your secret passphrase (which can’t be changed), but at that point, your wallet is already compromised.
What To Do if Your MetaMask Gets Hacked
Unfortunately, there isn’t anything that can be done after your MetaMask wallet is hacked. Cryptocurrency transactions are final and difficult to trace, so you can safely assume your money is gone forever.
MetaMask doesn’t have access to your wallet information, so while you may be able to report the incident to them, they wouldn’t be able to recover your funds.
If you’d still like to use MetaMask as your crypto hot wallet, the only thing to do is create a new one. If you don’t know how your MetaMask wallet was compromised, it might be wise to create the new account from a fresh download of the app or from a different browser.
If there happen to be any funds left in your compromised wallet, you can transfer these to the new one.
How To Protect Yourself Against a Hack
When dealing with cryptocurrencies and crypto wallets, it’s important to use the proper channels and protect your private information at all costs. Some of the best practices for protecting yourself against a hack include:
- Invest in a hardware wallet (cold wallet). MetaMask is a software wallet, or what’s called a “hot” wallet, meaning it’s connected to the internet. Cold wallets are stored on pieces of hardware that aren’t connected to the internet. Cold wallets have their drawbacks, but their major advantage is the security since third parties don’t have access. These are particularly advised if you’re storing a large amount of cryptocurrency.
- Never enter your seed phrase on a website or give it to an untrusted party. It’s best to never enter your MetaMask passphrase outside of an official MetaMask pathway.
- Check your browser extensions or turn them off. Some browser extensions can potentially monitor your screen or keyboard. Other times, a hacker may recognize that your extension is active and send a pop-up to trick you into inputting information.
- Use anti-malware programs regularly. Getting a reliable anti-malware program and running it regularly might help you catch harmful bugs on your computer before they cause any damage.
- Use a separate computer for crypto-related work. Hackers commonly target users on their main computers. If you have the ability to use a separate strictly for crypto transactions, you might reduce your risk.
Is MetaMask Safe?
Hearing horror stories of people losing thousands of dollars worth of crypto due to a hacking incident could make anyone uneasy about signing up for a MetaMask wallet.
MetaMask is relatively safe as long as you’re protecting your private information. Your MetaMask wallets aren’t located on servers, and MetaMask doesn’t have access to them, so hackers only access the wallets through your personal device and with your secret passphrase.
As long as you practice good security habits, your MetaMask should, theoretically, be safe. However, there are times when individuals get hacked and have no idea how it happened.
A MetaMask wallet that gets hacked doesn’t necessarily indicate an issue with Metamask itself, especially since most of the hacks come from malware or spyware that a user unknowingly installs on their computer. Virtually any hot wallet could be compromised through the same methods.
Despite what some may think, it’s possible for your MetaMask wallet to be hacked. However, hackers usually don’t access these wallets by “breaking in.” They usually gain access to your information first and then use that to get into your wallet.
This means that you’ve got to be careful where you put sensitive information, most importantly your seed phrase and password.
It’s also important to follow general safe security practices to avoid unknowingly installing dangerous software or viruses onto your device.
While some hot wallets may have more robust security than MetaMask, that doesn’t necessarily make MetaMask unsafe.