We’re getting more and more dependent on online platforms for professional and social purposes. This growing trend has increased the need to embrace more reliable online security measures.
One of the most common and reliable ways to protect your accounts is to use two-factor authentication (2FA). The protocol adds an extra layer of security to safeguard your account. Most platforms such as Facebook and Kraken offer 2FA.
When you have this feature enabled, you will have to provide at least two pieces of evidence to get access to your account. The first is usually your password and the second is typically a system-generated code that’s sent to your registered phone or e-mail addresses. You must enter this code before you can get access to your account.
While this is a popular technique, it is not very safe as anyone may have access to your phone or email. This is why experts now recommend using a piece of hardware to get the job done. One such piece is known as yubikey.
In this article, we’ll tell you all about yubikey including its benefits.
Let’s get started:
What is a yubikey?
The yubikey is the brainchild of two inventors Jakob Ehrensvärd and his wife Stina Ehrensvärd.
It is a compact plastic and metal key that you connect or plug into your device (phone or computer) to authenticate logins. It’s the size of a USB and works just like a physical key to unlock your virtual accounts.
You will find a number of brands offering such keys on the market. They are made according to the Universal 2nd Factor (U2F) standard that marries public key cryptography with hardware-based authentication.
How Does the yubikey Work?
It is very easy to use a yubikey. Connect it to your computer or phone – by using the designated port – and press or tap on the given button to generate a code.
Entering this code with the right password will give you access to your account.
Each key has an increment counter that tells you the number of times you have generated a code with your key. Each yubikey can handle a specific number of credentials depending on its cost and features.
Only the yubikey linked to a specific account can be used to gain access to it. Other yubikeys, even if they are the same type, cannot be used to authenticate accounts. You can, however, add multiple keys to the same account - though usually this requires the original yubikey to do so.
You will have to get in touch with the administrator to add a new yubikey or temporarily disable 2FA if you lose your key.
Is It Better than Other 2FA Methods?
The yubikey offers more benefits as it is simpler than using other methods – what will you do if your phone’s out of battery?
It also reduces the risk of breaches since the code can be used only once within a specified period of time. Plus, even if you lose the key, it will not be of risk as it does not contain information such as your passwords or the platforms it is used for.
Moreover, the yubikey also protects against phishing attacks thanks to the U2F protocol that binds login to the original URL. It will not reveal your credentials if the website is not real. This is very important because about 70% of all cyberattacks use a combination of hacking and phishing techniques.
The company turned to yubikeys after suffering a major data breach in 2009. It joined hands with Yubico to increase the capabilities of the system by including public key cryptography. This gave us the U2F protocol, mentioned earlier.
Google has now integrated support for the yubikey into security protections for all its users. It has been proven to be secure and reliable.
You will find many models of the key on the market including a version that’s meant to kill passwords. However, no consumer services are currently willing to support password-less login. Nonetheless, many experts believe that this is the beginning of a passwordless era.