Losing access to your online accounts or getting hacked can get you or your business into grave trouble. Fortunately, we keep seeing improvements in digital security and the technology around it. From seamless passwordless logins to security keys and MFA (multi-factor authentication), it’s now possible to secure your online accounts against various attacks.
There are many ways to implement Multi-factor Authentication (MFA) or Second-factor Authentication (2FA), but one of the easiest is using a security key. These small devices that can fit in your pocket become a physical barrier to accessing your accounts. Just like opening a physical lock, you will need to insert the key to open the lock and safeguard your assets from any potential attack.
Important reminder when setting up security keys
Depending on the platform or service where you plan to use your security keys, it’s important to understand that the use of the security key will be necessary for any new login or devices, meaning you could potentially lose access to your accounts if you lose the key. This is why it’s always recommended to have at least one backup security key in case of an emergency. The best practice would be to have that backup offsite on a secure location, some users even prefer to have 3 keys, one to keep at hand at all times, another at home or the office and a third offsite on a safe location (with a family member, trusted friend, secure vault, etc). In the case of Google accounts, losing all security keys linked to an account would result in losing the account, other platforms may offer an alternative recovery depending on their policy.
We are going to save you some time and give you our top recommendations when it comes to the best security keys for multi-factor authentication.
The Best Security Keys of 2023
Yubico YubiKey 5C NFC
Price: $50 to $75 (price varies depending on the form factor)
The YubiKey 5 Series is available in multiple form factors, from USB type C to Apple Lighting, as well as different sizes to fit your needs and devices. They support all the latest protocols and have a solid reputation regarding reliability and support.
Protocols: FIDO Universal 2nd Factor (U2F), FIDO2/WebAuthn, Personal Identity Verification-compatible (PIV) Smart Card, OpenPGP smart card, HOTP/TOTP, Static Password, Yubico OTP
FIDO2 is becoming one of the leading protocols in the industry. However, we advise you to check compatibility and requirements for your specific needs.
Format: USB-A, USB-C, NFC, Lightning
Other features: IP68 rated, crush resistant, no batteries required, no moving parts
Yubico Security Key NFC (2023)
At about half the price of the Series 5 from Yubico, the Yubico Security Key NFC is an excellent entry-level security key, it offers less advanced features than the Series 5. They are available on either USB type A or USB type C (the price for the USB type C is usually around $30).
Protocols: FIDO2, FIDO U2F, WebAuthn/CTAP
Format: USB-A, USB-C, NFC
Google USB-C/NFC Titan Security Key
Price: from $30
One of the best deals for a reliable but affordable security key is the Titan Security Key from Google. It supports the FIDO U2F protocol and can be used across all major social media platforms, and of course, it can be used to secure your Google accounts.
They are available with USB type A or USB type C, both models support NFC as well. There used to be a Bluetooth version however, this has been discontinued.
This is another great affordable solution, and they are a great solution for those who want to enable the Google Advanced Protection Program, which by the way is free of charge and greatly improves the security of your Google accounts.
Protocols: FIDO U2F
Format: USB-A, USB-C, NFC
Tips for Security keys
Security Keys and iPads
Apple iPads do not have NFC readers, so you can’t scan the NFC chip like you would with your smartphone.
Some platforms will allow your mobile phone as a Passkey. Most modern smartphones have an integrated security key that allows your phone to become a wireless security key. However, support for this varies by platform.
Use a Security Key with either USB type C for modern iPads or a Key with Apple Lighting port for older generations. You may also use a USB to Lighting adapter.
Smartphone build-in security keys
Many modern smartphones include a built-in security key, that can be used wirelessly to authenticate your account, similar to a security key. However, the support for these features varies greatly by platform or service. If you plan to use this feature, also remember to set proper lock screen settings (fingerprints are usually the safest) on your phone, since losing it may also compromise the accounts and apps you have on your device.
The Ultimate Key for Digital Security
Security Keys are one of the best methods to add multi-factor authentication (MFA) and secure an online account. However, the best solution for you or your business may vary depending on many factors, from the services you use to the type of devices you own. The best solution can often be different from one user to the next. We recommend contacting an expert on the subject if you are still determining the best route and answer for your needs. You can also contact Never Too Late Academy for a digital security consultation on the following link: Contact Us