Do you still use two-factor authentication (2FA) to secure your online accounts? You should switch to a physical security key instead. You might be thinking why? Security keys add an extra layer of protection to your accounts.
When you use 2FA authentication to log into your account, such as Gmail, a one time password is sent to your phone. You enter this password to sign to your account. Since you should have access to your phone to get the required code (one factor) and the sign-in credentials (the second factor) to verify your identity to ensure that only you are the original owner of this account.
But we can't ignore the downsides of SMS or text based authentication. Unfortunately, if you lose your phone or a hacker swaps your SIM card or somehow breaches the security and gains access to your phone, then it is obvious that they will be able to retrieve your code and use it to log in into your account. In this way, a hacker can steal your bank account details or any other information available on your phone. Security keys will help you to avoid this nightmare.
What is the Physical Security Key?
A physical security key, also known as a hardware security key, U2F or security key, adds an extra layer of protection to your accounts and provides top-level security from attackers. The NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology) also recommends some multi-factor authentication like a security key for the most robust layer of protection. It offers protection against automated bots and targeted attacks.
Hardware keys offer connectivity to your device via USB-A & C, Lightning, NFC, and Bluetooth, and they are easily carried on a keychain. Most of the security keys use an open authentication standard, which is known as FIDO U2F or improved FIDO2 standard to resist physical attacks.
Many manufacturers make the security keys, and they are compatible with most popular web browsers as well as hundreds of online services and apps including Facebook, Google, GitHub, Twitter, Instagram, Dropbox, Games, Microsoft account etc. Overall, security keys are inexpensive and offer higher protection than any other authentications.
Hence, check out the best ones you can buy right now to enhance your digital safety.
10 best physical security keys
Yubico YubiKey 5 Series is the best security key for most people which comes in several models that are compatible with more devices than any other hardware key. The one security key offers two factors, multi-factor and without password authentication. Yubico provides various setup instructions such as videos and documentation to make the process easy for newcomers. The robust multi-factor authentication combines a hardware authenticator with a PIN to protect high assurance activity like financial transactions. The Multi-protocol support (FIDO2, U2F, Smart card, OTP, OpenPGP3) provides you with strong security for legacy and modern environments. The Yubico 5 Series offers more connection alternatives such as USB-A & C, a dual-headed USB-C and Lightning-port model. All the full-size keys come with a hole that allows you to attach them to a keychain. The YubiKey 5 Series can be pricier than other keys, but its sturdy compatibility with more devices makes it worthwhile.
If you are looking only for USB-A and NFC compatible security keys or want to test a key before buying a more expensive version, then Yubico Security Key NFC is one to get. These security keys protect your online accounts from unauthorized access by using two-factor authentication. It is one of the most protective USB and NFC security keys that works with various apps and online services. This security key is FIDO certified and works with Google Chrome and FIDO compliant applications on Mac, Windows, and Linux. The key doesn't work with LastPass; it requires an upgrade to any YubiKey 5 for LastPass. It protects Gmail, Dropbox, Outlook, Dashlane, accounts and more. The Security Key NFC is durable and secure and also tamper resistant, water-resistant, and crush resistant. It is designed to protect your online accounts from account takeovers. The Security key supports Multi-Protocol including FIDO, FIDO2 and U2F to provide strong hardware-based authentication.
Thetis Fido U2F Security Key is a simple security key for online services. It is easy to use and more convenient than other 2 step verification methods. It requires a simple press to login into your account. This key is designed with 360 degree rotating metal covers the USB connector when not in use. The key is crafted from a durable aluminium alloy for protection against drops, bumps and scratches. It combines an easy click button, functioning indicator light and also you can easily attach to your keychain. The key doesn't store any of your information from computer or online accounts. It fully supports the websites that follow the U2F protocol, including Facebook, Google, Dropbox etc. This Security key uses a multi-layered authentication process to protect your personal information at the world-class level. If you want a bang for the buck security key, this model from Thetis is right for you.
As the name suggests, the Crypto Trust OnlyKey has some useful features that its rivals lack. It comes with an onboard keypad that bypasses keyloggers that find their way onto computers. It keeps online accounts safe if a computer or website is compromised. It uses multiple methods of 2FA, such as FIDO 2 U2F, Yubico OTP, and TOTP. The OnlyKey is a password manager that is verified and trustworthy. It works with all websites such as Twitter, Facebook, GitHub and Google. It is waterproof and durable and comes in a tamper-resistant design that allows you to take it everywhere. This physical key is PIN protected. If you lose this key, the data remains secure; after ten unsuccessful attempts to unlock, all data is automatically erased. You no need to remember multiple passwords. It collects your username and password automatically when you plug in OnlyKey to your computer. It is compatible with Windows, Mac, Linux and Chromebook.
If you want the smallest security key, then YubiKey 5 Nano is your destination. It comes with superior security by combining hardware-based authentication and public key cryptography to protect from phishing attacks and eliminate account takeovers effectively. It provides support of multi-protocol including FIDO2, Yubico OTP, OATH HOTP, U2F and Open PGP. Users get various options for robust authentication such as two-factor, single factor passwordless login and multi-factor authentication. This Nano Security key offers a simple and intuitive experience and ensures rapid adoption in organizational security. You get authentication speed up to 4X faster than SMS or OTP based authentication, and it does not require a battery or network connectivity that makes it always accessible. The security key reduces password support incidents by 92%. The YubiKey 5 Nano is the most extensive, trusted, and secure authentication tool for the finance and retail companies in the world. The most novel use of this security key is the ability to grant access to Twitter.
The uQontrol Qkey Password Vault offers three-factor and military-grade authentication security. It comes in the form of a hardware security key along with a security chip. In addition to this, one can access this key only with a master password that has access to the key. The in-built smart sensor ensures the user is physically present. This key makes secure any online site rather than one that is specifically supported. It combines an electronic password keeper which safely stores login credentials to all secured web accounts. You can carry this compact digital password vault wherever you go, insert it into the USB port of most computers and tablets to safely initiate your web transaction with peace of mind. Now say goodbye to cybercrime. The Qkey's CHIP emulates the security protocols that are used in payment cards, passport security and by Government organizations around the world. It has its own computer embedded browser application that leaves zero footprints on the host computer. It also contains a low energy Bluetooth feature that helps you to find your key if it gets lost.
This Kensington VeriMark Fingerprint Key combines biometric security with 360-degree readability as well as anti-spoofing protection in a convenient and portable package. It allows you to login into your Windows computer using Microsoft's in-built Windows Hello login feature with just your fingerprint. This key can be used with up to 10 different fingerprints. It is FIDO U2F certified. Your biometric information can protect your cloud-based accounts including Google, Dropbox, GitHub and Facebook with FIDO second factor authentication. The Kensington key works with Windows Hello, Windows 10, 8, and 7 and it is not compatible with Mac or Chrome OS. The compact design enables you to attach easily to a key ring for portability. It also supports popular tools like Dashlane, LastPass, Keeper and Roboform and allows the fingerprint to authenticate and fill the usernames and passwords for websites automatically. The Kensington VeriMark USB security key is convenient and straightforward to use without compromising the security functions.
The HyperFIDO Titanium U2F Security Key is a universal two-factor authentication key that protects online accounts with a robust two-factor verification. You will never lose access to sensitive account credentials such as bank accounts, and Gmail accounts. It protects private documents through password thefts, phishing, hacking and keylogging scams. This security key combats real-time attacks such as man-in-the-middle. The HyperFIDO hardware security token is compatible with the latest version of Google Chrome or other FIDO compliant applications like Windows 10, Mac OS and Linux. It comes with an identity and access management tool called SaaSPASS and secures your corporate and personal data. It supports U2F and FIDO2 protocols. The titanium build design allows you to attach to your keychain or store in your wallet without adding bulk. A soft green light indicates the 2FA is active. Once you set up this security key, you no longer need to memorize passwords. The key can grant access once you press the button physically on the HyperFIDO key.
Google's Titan Security Keys come in a pair of small USB devices that add super safe two-factor authentication to your accounts. By paying just $50, you get two security keys. One of the titan security keys only works with USB while the other works with USB as well as Bluetooth. The USB key fits into a USB-A slot. The included USB-C adapter means it can work with some phones. The Bluetooth security key works with mobile devices. The USB-A key has not any movable parts and doesn't require a battery but the Bluetooth key has an onboard battery and can be recharged by a micro USB port on the bottom. Both the keys are durable and small. It works with popular browsers and a developing ecosystem that supports FIDO standards. They offer together with some extra security to your Google account and also FIDO U2F compatible services.
This security key from SoloKeys is a smaller key that easily fits into a USB-A port on your desktop or laptop. It provides security with your logins with two-factor authentication and also protects from phishing and other online attacks. It works with Google, Facebook, Twitter, Dropbox, Github, and anything that supports FIDO2 or FIDO U2F. It protects against unauthorized online access by using the most secure login method. This security key shares open-source hardware and firmware. The key is easy to use and consistent across all sites.
When it comes to security keys for multi-factor authentication, you have several choices to choose from. And, Yubico is one of the more popular options that come in different models. Google also has its security key called Titan.