MetaMask

Metamask is one of the most commonly used Ether wallets. And Ether is what you should be concerned about because most crypto games run on Ether (ETH). 

It is a browser extension and works with Chrome, Firefox and Opera or the Brave browser which is available to download from the MetaMask website. 

Metamask allows you to run Ethereum dApps in your browser itself without having to run a full Ethereum node. If you aren’t familiar with dApps, they are web applications which run on the Blockchain network on the backend. 

If this sounds like technical jargon to you, just know that Metamask requires no login and it keeps your private keys on Chrome itself with password protection.

The founders of MetaMask say that their mission is to make Ethereum easy to use for the largest number of users possible. MetaMask encrypts your private keys and stores them on your computer.

There are three main features of Metamask you should know about:

  • Your private keys are saved in MetaMask, so the risk of phishing sites is eliminated and stealing through phishing scams isn’t possible

  • Initial setup is very easy, far more than other wallets in the market. There is no fees you need to pay either and you don’t need to provide any personal information to register

  • MetaMask keeps a blacklist of harmful sites and it doesn’t allow you to visit such websites

Although the service is immune to phishing attacks, it isn’t as secure as hardware wallets where your funds are stored offline. So carefully research everything before you choose a wallet. MetaMask developers recommend that you shouldn’t store big amounts of Ether on this wallet. It is not safe enough to hold large amounts.

How Safe is MetaMask?

With MetaMask, you get hot storage (funds are stored online) and not cold storage as with CoinBase or other wallets. MetaMask’s security shield lies in encrypting your password and seed phrase. 

So if a hacker were trying to attack your computer, they will have to break through this encryption to get your sensitive information and access to cryptocurrency. MetaMask developers are thinking about integrating hardware wallet to make the service free of security risks. But at this stage, it is clearly a hot wallet. MetaMask is an efficient wallet, but if you want smoother controls, you should go for MyEtherWallet.

The security level of MetaMask is evident in the following words of a MetaMask developer:

“I encourage users to not use MetaMask to store more than they are willing to risk to a hacker, for longer than they need to, and that's the same for any internet connected signer!”

So far, MetaMask hasn’t been a victim of any major security breach. The source code of MetaMask is there on GitHub, so it is reasonable to assert that their software has no bugs. If any code has bugs, the GitHub community gets very vocal about it. 

They use a HTTPS domain to ensure that you are accessing a secure website. The only drawback is that they don’t have 2-factor authentication or multi-signature to strengthen their security infrastructure.

Customer Support

One of the most common concerns people have with cryptocurrency wallets is the quality of their customer support. Well, there is good news. MetaMask has a good customer support which is responsive and quite helpful. You can also send them an email mentioning your issue and they will get back to you fairly quickly.

MetaMask Fees

How much MetaMask costs to you depends on your gas price. By default, the cost revolves around 21 GWEI. But you can lower this gas price to 2 GWEI and you will be charged 10 times lower fee to make the transaction. 

The trick is to not vary the gas volume, but the gas price. Decreasing your gas volume too low will spend your gas but the transaction will fail. So it is advised to lower your gas price to around 2 GWEI to lower your transaction fee 10x.

How Does MetaMask Work?

MetaMask inserts a Web3 object on the page you are working with using JavaScript. 

This doesn’t tweak the web site, but gives full access to the network. This is the reason when you try to run MetaMask, it asks you to give some permissions. 

But the most demanding permission is: ‘the ability to read and change all your data on the websites you visit’. It makes this request because of web3 JavaScript.

When the initial setup is done, you build your online vault, another term for your digital wallet. It asks you to save some seed words, which is a recovery method in case you want to regenerate your wallet from this seed. 

As it goes without saying, you should store this seed in a place where it won’t be lost. Engrave it on a wall if you have to, but don’t lose it. MetaMask wallet is still being developed and improved, so the developers recommend that you don’t use it to store large amounts of cryptocurrency.

Ease of Use

Once you do the setup, you will see the wallet interface which is very neat and organized. It has many colors and feels intuitive. On the homepage, you will be able to see your transactions. This is to make sure that no transaction will go unnoticed.

The menu options on the wallet interface allow you to – see your public key, copy wallet address to clipboard, export private keys, change the nickname, switch accounts, pick current network (you can choose for both: the Main Ethereum network and the Modern Test Network).

The best part of using MetaMask is how easy it is to send Ether to other addresses. Everything is easy but also secure. 

For every transaction, the software asks you to confirm all the details and approve the transaction. Doing a double-check this way ensures that you don’t miss any details and lose funds by mistake.

Pros

  • Immune to phishing attacks since your private keys are stored in Metamask

  • Allows you to run Ethereum dApps (web apps on the Ethereum blockchain) in your browser itself without having to run a full Ethereum node

  • Easy to use, organized and feels intuitive

  • Encrypts your password and seed phrase for added security

  • Active development team which is trying to implement hardware wallet support and other offline signing strategies soon

  • Easy to send Ether to other addresses

  • Open source on GitHub, so bugs are found and resolved fast

  • Good customer support

Cons

  • Isn’t suitable to store large amounts of cryptocurrency

  • Security is good given that there are no reports of security breaches.

    But it is still a hot wallet (with some good encryption support) and isn’t as safe as hardware wallets. Hot wallet means it is in an online network which is prone to attack by hackers

  • Good for beginners but you should know how to control Gas price and GWEI

Should You Choose MetaMask Wallet?

If you are not looking to store large amounts of cryptocurrency in a wallet and want decent level of security with an easy to use interface, MetaMask may be the wallet you are looking for. 

It is not as safe as a hardware wallet, but it has some cool encryptions that make it fairly secure. Its users have given a positive response so far and it hasn’t been ever attacked by hackers since it was started in July 2016. 

It has an active development team with possibility of adding hardware wallet support in the future. In addition, it is open source, so it is free of bugs and is fully supported by GitHub audience.

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