YubiKey : Everything you need to know

With the advancement of 2FA security to cut down on fraud (using another device in order to login to a website/system/app/cryptowallets/exchanges or even computer or another device), people are increasingly using USB keys to make sure their online accounts and identities are secure. Have a look on the forums and one name will keep popping up time and again. Yubico has become one of the leading light in secure digital keys authentication systems. I thought it might be a good idea to contact the experts at Yubico with a few questions to try and dispel some of the myths around digital security and get some of the basic information on their range of products.

What are the advantages of using a YubiKey over biometric or 2FA authentication?

Most traditional 2FA/MFA (multi-factor authentication) methods are insecure. SMS, one time passwords, and even mobile push authenticators are susceptible to account takeover attacks from phishing and man-in-the-middle attacks. They are also inconvenient – inputting multiple passwords and passcodes takes time. Yubikeys offer the best of both worlds – the best available security against phishing attacks and account takeovers, as well as the best user experience. To authenticate, users simply tap/touch their security key. Read more here.

When it comes to biometric authentication, we are actually working on adding biometrics to our line of security keys. To learn more about this please see here.

Can you use the same YubiKey on multiple sites or applications?

Combining multiple authentication protocols on a single device, YubiKeys secure access to more than 700 leading business and consumer applications. These include accessing IAM platforms, computer login, VPNs, password managers, privileged access software, top online services, developer tools, smart card management systems and encryption. See the full list of sites that work with YubiKeys here.

What happens if you lose your YubiKey, can you restore it somehow? Is it better to buy two?

Best practice is to have multiple YubiKeys set up for your accounts. One on your keychain, or one in your wallet, and one in a safe place at home will help to make sure you’ve always got a backup YubiKey nearby. Having a spare key gives us the assurance that if we lose our primary keys, we will not be without access to critical accounts when we need them most. No need to fear being locked out of any accounts, and no need to go through a lengthy recovery and identity verification process to recover them. Many services let users set up multiple YubiKeys with their account for this very reason. More information on spare keys here.

Which is the most popular/ best selling YubiKey?

The YubiKey 5 NFC.

Are the keys safe to go through airport x-ray machines? Are they waterproof / fireproof etc?

YubiKeys are made of one solid and robust piece of plastic so are safe to go through airport scanners. They don’t require batteries, have no breakable screens, don’t need a cellular connection, and are water-resistant and crush-proof. One user even found their missing YubiKey in a washing machine having survived ten weeks of heat, water and detergent. More about the manufacturing process here.

Can someone access your logins and data etc if they are able to get hold of your key?

No, they would be able to login to your applications only if they also had access to your approved devices as well. They would also need your basic login information too EG username / password etc.

Is it possible for someone to ‘hack’ into the NFC YubiKey’s if they are nearby?

No, they would have to be in possession of your key, they cannot be hacked. 


So there you have it, as time goes by these kind of secure keys will be more and more commonplace. I found the process of setting up the devices very simple, in the case of Crypto wallets where there are no access recovery systems make sure you have a backup and it’s a good idea to register the keys on at least 2 devices if possible. That means if you lose one you won’t lose your crypto! In my case, I had a Yubikey 5 NFC (usb) and a Yubikey 5c NFC (usbc). For more information the range of Yubikey’s visit the website www.yubico.com