First Look: YubiKey 5


Product Name: YubiKey 5
Company: Yubico
Pricing: starts at $45 per key

What it does: Provides one touch two factor authentication for a wide variety of platforms and websites.

What we liked: Collaboration with Microsoft and Google delivers out of box integration with applications and platforms supported by these industry leading solution providers.

The Bottom Line: The YubiKey 5 is a perfect tool for those looking to speed up their workday with ease of access to devices and web-hosted accounts with the touch of a button.

One of the most tedious tasks for users today is remembering their passwords.  Whether it’s unlocking a laptop, signing into an application, or accessing a secured account…passwords are pervasive in our online life. With the looming fear of having their password stolen by hackers, many individuals have adopted the industry best practice of using multiple strong passwords with a minimum length of thirteen characters and a blend of upper case, lower, case and special characters.  An unfortunate side effect of this practice is that many need a virtual or physical notebook just to track all the passwords.

Practical alternative authentication practices that continue to make headway are key-based and physical attributes for passwords. The most prevalent physical approach is a fingerprint reader but there are limitations when dirt and abrasions are common occurrences.

When it comes to key-based authentication, Yubico is one of the first brands that comes to mind…as they have been in the authentication services industry for more than 10 years and continue to innovate in parallel with industry standards. At Yubico they have a saying, “Defenders must always get it right to succeed, attackers only have to get it right once” and their most recent response to this practical philosophy is the YubiKey 5 Series.   A brand-new offering that includes near-field communication (NFC) authentication, the YubiKey 5 Series protects laptops as well as any smartphone, game system and software that offers USB-A, USB-C, Lightning or NFC communication transports. The 5 Series breaks the norm of typical smart card authentication methods that require specialized software to work; the YubiKey 5 is ready to go out of box. No additional software, no specialized configuration settings…just simple and secure authentication.

The YubiKey 5 Series is compatible with a wide variety of platforms due to its multi-protocol support, including the new authentication standard allowing for passwordless login, FIDO2. A key advantage of the YubiKey 5 is its resistance to phishing attacks. Since it provides a secondary level of physical authentication, there is no way for hackers gain access to systems…even if the primary username and password were compromised. Not only are the keys phishing resistant, they also provide easy access to any password protected device or program.

Yubico recently announced its collaboration with Microsoft and Google Chrome to provide access to cloud environments without the need for a password.  By leveraging available integration with these partners, users can plug the YubiKey into the USB port on a device and utilize one-step (no password required) authentication to their cloud services.  This collaboration also allows YubiKey 5 to be used to sign into web applications on mobile devices.   When logging into sites, the user is prompted with a request to use the Security Key and by placing it next to the device, the NFC protocol will authenticate the user providing access to the requested application.   

Looking forward, the organization continues to focus on delivering an authentication platform that reduces the impact of phishing attacks, removes the dependence on passwords, and paves the way to a future without the many challenges that passwords create…a term the company refers to as a “password-less future”.

The YubiKey 5 is ready to go out of the box and can be purchased online through retail marketplaces. There are no restrictions on how many accounts can be stored on the key. Yubico prides itself on the simplistic setup and the fact that any person, regardless of experience level, can deploy YubiKey on devices.

Ryan Cote

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