What is a Yubikey?
Its a Physical Device that allows users to use a second factor for authentication instead of something like SMS or Google Authentication OTP codes. The Yubikey I received and bought for myself is the Yubikey Neo because it has the NFC capabilities which is helpful for my IPhone use. It works on something or similar to Public/Private Key Authentication. Which in having the key is the only way to store the private key so therefor no one else can replicate and verify they own the public key associated with your account. Its really based on the fundamentals of how the most secure things work in our technological world.
OTP = One Time Passcode
SMS = Short Message Service or Text Messaging
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Why Not Just Use SMS or Text Messaging?
This is something I have honestly used for quite some time, because its “Easy” and any person can do it. However, there is a couple of issues that do come with using SMS. So your Phone Number is controlled by your Cell Phone carrier, which is a “Centralized” service. The service can be tricked into porting your phone number or another service could spoof the number to receive your text messages. Its really a system that works great for normal people that just follow the rules. Unfortunately for the “Bad Actors” or “Criminals” they don’t follow the rules when it comes to our privacy and security. A Physical Device outside the realm of the connected world can be the most secure because no one can touch it or control it.
Whats the Downside of using the Yubikey?
Responsibility…. Is something you will have to take full on when using a device like this. There are no backups or people to help you if you lose your Yubikey. If there were other methods such as personal questions or SMS backup then it really just defeats the purpose of the Yubikey. A Recommended way to help yourself in case you do lose it, would be to buy 2 Yubikeys and have them duplicated. This way you can store one in a safe place you know you will always have it. This way if you lose your Yubikey you can access your accounts and convert them to a new Public/Private key generated by your duplicate Yubikey.
Where can I buy a Yubikey?
My recommendation would be to buy the Yubikey Neo because of it being the most advanced one. Yubikey is made by Yubico, so the smartest place to buy it is from the manufacturer itself. You can purchase for $50 at the time of this article. If your not sure on which one you want to buy, you can check out the Start page to find out which is the best fit.