Cybersecurity Blog

Don’t want to rely on a phone for 2FA? Use a security key – 03/11/19


A security key is a small plastic fob that you carry with you or leave plugged into your computer. It replaces your phone as the second factor in  two factor authentication (2FA).  The keys can be used with most accounts that offer 2FA and some can be used to login to your Mac or PC.  Each key has it’s own advantages and disadvantages however the most popular keys available in Canada are made by Yubico.  While there are other manufacturers out there, their keys work with more accounts than any other.

They offer a variety of models, each one with its own set of features. Some stay plugged into your computer. Others you carry on your key chain. Some you can use with mobile devices while others are just for computer use.  It can get a bit confusing trying to determine which key is the best fit for you, however their website does have a quick quiz that can help.

Their most popular and least expensive model is the Security Key. At only $20 US it does everything the average home user needs a security key to do. The only thing it is missing is NFC capability. In fact it is so popular it is currently out of stock.  The good news is they have decided to offer their upgraded key with NFC capability for the same low price.

The key is super easy to set up. Just login to your account and find the 2FA settings. Select security key as your second factor, insert the key and push the button. Voila, the key is setup for the account. When you want to login, you insert your key into your USB port and push the button or tap the key to the back of your NFC enabled phone.

No fussing with verification codes or phone prompts. You do however, have to keep your key with you. As with any other 2FA method. It is a good idea to have a backup plan should something happen to the key. It is recommended that you purchase a second one in case the first one is lost.  The good news is buying two will only set you back $36 US.

The key is water proof and super durable so it will survive being tossed around on your key chain. It is also nice and flat so it hangs easily with your other keys.  Here are just some of the accounts that it works with.

  • 1Password
  • Blogger
  • Dashlane
  • Digidentiy
  • Docusign
  • Dropbox
  • EA
  • Epic Games
  • Eve Online
  • Facebook
  • Google
  • Instagram
  • KeePass
  • Kickstarter
  • LastPass
  • LogonBox
  • MailChimp
  • macOS
  • Microsoft
  • Nintendo
  • PassPack
  • Reddit
  • Trello
  • Twitter
  • WordPRess
  • YouTube

For a complete list of accounts that use Yubicon’s Security Key, visit their website.  If you are serious about using 2FA and don’t want to use your phone, a security key is really the only way to go.




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