While we're at a point in history where more amazing and positive things are coming from NFTs than just about anywhere else on the planet, unfortunately there's also some bad news. When things are going well, the scammers come out to play, and in NFT land right now, scammers are running rampant.
What used to be a fairly random occurrence has become a daily nightmare for NFT investors around the world, and stories like the one below are showing up all over Twitter and Discord:
And hackers are getting more creative by the day. Lately more and more people have been talking about random NFTs they're finding airdropped into their wallet. Some have learned that hard way that interacting with these seemingly free NFTs can actually wipe out their whole wallet.
So, yeah...as your wallet starts to fill with random NFTs that you're not supposed to touch and you're reading about people getting scammed every day, it might be time to think more deeply about security.
Luckily when it comes to securing NFTs there's a pretty well-known path, but many are afraid to explore it thinking that it might be too complex and technical. I'll share some good and bad news. Let's start with the good news - anyone can learn how to use a Hardware wallet, and by doing so, make it almost impossible for scammers and hackers to take their NFTs.
The bad news? Well, these are still the early days and I would be lying if I said it was a simple process that just works. Instead, you might hit some bugs and technical snags, but I can tell you - you'll get through it, and hopefully this article will help. So let's dive in.
First - what is a hardware wallet?
A hardware wallet (sometimes referred to as cold storage) is a wallet that requires you to use a physical device to confirm transactions. This means it becomes almost impossible for hackers to steal your NFTs, you go from being an easy target, from really not even being on the radar any more.
I see a lot of confusion around what exactly a hardware wallet does when it comes to NFTs so let me just dispel some common myths.
Are my NFTs stored on the hardware wallet?
This is probably the number one question people have and it also shows the overall fundamental misunderstanding people have when it comes to hardware wallets. Your NFT is not stored on a hardware wallet like a Ledger or a Trezor, instead your NFTs stay on the blockchain. Your hardware wallet has your private key which is needed to approve transactions.
Do I need to have my hardware wallet plugged-into my computer to send NFTs to it?
Nope. Send all you want, you do not need to have your hardware wallet plugged into your computer to receive NFTs or crypto.
Can I still sell NFTs on OpenSea if I use a hardware wallet?
Yes, and you can be hiking in the Amazon jungle when the NFT sells, i.e. you don't need your hardware wallet connected for the transaction to go through. You will only need your hardware wallet physically connected to your computer when you list your item for sale, once you confirm the listing and approve on your hardware wallet, the item can sell anytime and you don't have to do anything because you already approved the sale and your NFT is on the blockchain, not on your Ledger.
Okay, now that we have all the fundamentals out of the way, let me share some of the things I learned getting a Ledger Nano X setup and moving my NFTs into my hardware wallet.
Lesson 1 - update the firmware on the Ledger first
Before you start getting everything rocking, make sure your Ledger is running the latest version of the firmware, which is probably isn't. You can do this by simply connecting your Ledger to your computer, firing up Ledger Live, and clicking on the banner at the top which will indicate you need to update.
Lesson 2 - don't use Chrome
I use Chrome as my main browser, but it turns out there are some bugs with Ledger and MetaMask on Chrome right now that make it buggy, annoyingly buggy. While the Ledger site recommends enabling Ledger Live to fix things, I found that to be buggy as well and had a few transactions stall out.
Both Chrome and Brave require sockets, and that seems to be at the core of the issue, which leads me to lesson 3.
Lesson 3 - use FireFox
As of today, FireFox does not have the same issues that Chrome and Brave have so you can save yourself a lot of pain if you just start with FireFox.
Lesson 4 - practice with something you don't care about
A friend recommended that I try moving an NFT to my hardware wallet and then send it back to my hot wallet to practice. I used a Super Yeti because, well, if I lost a Super Yeti, I think I'd be okay. It's a really good idea to run this practice round so you understand exactly how to send from your hot wallet to your hardware wallet and then how to send back and use your Ledger to approve the transaction.
Lesson 5 - ignore the weird warning Ledger gives you about sending anything except ETH or ERC20 tokens
So this one is pretty baffling to me. Ledger has been advertising all over the place about how it's the perfect solution for securing your NFTs...but they have a warning that essentially says, if you transfer ERC-721 tokens (which is what most NFTs are) they might be lost.
Everyone I've asked about this has said it's just an old warning message that Ledger probably forgot to update. Hopefully they update it soon to include ERC-721 as I'd imagine this has scared more than a few people away.
That being said, don't worry, this warning doesn't mean that your ERC-721 tokens, i.e. NFTs, will be lost, you're good.
Okay, well that's a lot to cram into one article so I leave it here. I will likely put together a follow-up article going step-by-step through the Ledger setup process but thought that would just be too much to pack in here.
Stay safe out there my friends!