Whenever I’m asked for things that are a must-have, a YubiKey is on the top of my list no matter what platform or operating system people are using — Windows, Mac, or Linux, Android or iOS.
It doesn’t matter.
Everyone needs a YubiKey.
So, what is a YubiKey?
A YubiKey is the ultimate line of defense against having your online accounts taken over. And with prices starting at $45, it’s one of those indispensable gadgets for the 21st century.
A hardware authentication device made by Yubico, it’s used to secure access to online accounts, computers, and networks. The Yubikey 5 Series look like small USB flash drives and come in a range of different connectors — USB-A, USB-C, and USB-C and Lightning combo. There are versions that also include support for NFC.
It offers two-factor authentication (also known as multi-factor authentication or two-step verification) for hundreds of online services, from Facebook, Google, and Twitter, to more specific services such as Coinbase, Salesforce, and Login.gov. Your YubiKey can also be used to secure password storage services such as Bitwarden, Password Safe, and LastPass.
The YubiKey 5 Series keys support a broad range of protocols, such as FIDO2/WebAuthn, U2F, Smart card, OpenPGP, and OTP. Having a YubiKey removes the need, in many cases, to use SMS for two-factor authentication — a method that has been shown to be insecure.
If your online accounts are keeping something that you can’t afford to lose, a Yubikey makes perfect sense. I’ve been using YubiKeys for years now, and they have been flawless and foolproof.
While one YubiKey is enough to get started with, I have several. Not only does this give me a backup in case I lose one (I haven’t yet!), but if I pick a couple with different connectors (say the USB-C/Lightning and a USB-A with NFC), this gives me the flexibility to log into accounts across a range of devices.
YubiKey 5 NFC
This YubiKey features a USB-A connector and NFC compatibility.
YubiKey 5C NFC
This Yubikey features a USB-C connector and NFC compatibility.
This Yubikey features a USB-C connector and a Lightning connector for the iPhone.
Yubico FIDO Security Key NFC
A cheaper version of the Yubikey, this one is FIDO certified and works with Google Chrome and any FIDO-compliant application on Windows, macOS, or Linux. Use this to secure your login and protect your Gmail, Dropbox, Outlook, Dashlane, 1Password, accounts, and more.
Note that this YubiKey is not compatible with LastPass, which requires a YubiKey 5. Always check for compatibility with the services you want to use before buying.