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Yubikey Review 2024: An Extra Layer of Security

Keeping your online accounts safe is one of the biggest challenges. Not only do you have to remember various passwords belonging to multiple accounts, but you also have to come up with unique and complex passwords every time you sign up for a new account. Whether it’s security for a crypto wallet or a simple social media account, the interconnected nature of the internet today makes it risky to leave any account to chance.

The Yubikey is a small, single-purpose USB device that adds strong authentication capability to your user accounts. Created by a company called Yubico, the Yubikey can be used in place of passwords to offer individuals more security than standard two-factor authentication applications.

It comes in the shape of a normal USD device and can be plugged into or paired with your computer to access your online accounts. This protects you from attackers who use key loggers, trojans, and other tools to steal your identity online. Yubico has achieved protection for individual accounts using a hardware solution that is simply impossible to crack. With this device, you can tighten the data security and safety of multiple accounts online while making it easy to access your accounts on the go.

Here is an in-depth review of what Yubikey has to offer.

Yubikey Overview

Yubikey adds an extra layer to your online life.


  • Extra security for crypto-based accounts like exchanges
  • Yubikey offers an extra layer of security for email, banks and more
  • A variety of different Yubikey form factors to suit your use case
  • Relatively inexpensive and easy to use
Connections: USB, USB-C, Lightning, NFC
Supported Applications: Gemini, Kraken, Coinbase, Binance, Google, LastPass

Yubikey Pros & Cons


  • Compatible with multiple platforms and operating systems

  • Enables easy and secure access to your accounts

  • Available in a variety of shapes and sizes for flexibility

  • Relatively inexpensive

  • Durable designs


  • Costs can add up if you are looking for a backup

  • Integration with mobile interfaces could be better

  • Set up can be time consuming

  • Does not support all crypto platforms

  • Is not a full crypto wallet like Ledger or Trezor

What is Yubikey?

Apart from Yubico, various brands offer such keys based on the Universal 2nd Factor (U2F) standard that facilitated public key cryptography with hardware-based authentication. Most Yubikeys you will find out there are designed to support all major platforms and operating systems. However, Yubico stands out from the competition thanks to the fact that it is a completely open-source company that allows inspection from independent authorities and auditors across the globe.

At its core, the Yubico Yubikey is remarkably simple yet effective in its protection capabilities. Similar to how 2-factor authentication adds an extra layer of security to your account by requiring a second verification method apart from your password, the Yubikey works similarly only that the second verification is from a hardware device. A second verification from an app or an email or a connected phone number still leaves loopholes as anyone can hack into your email or phone number.

A hardware Yubikey remains offline at all times and therefore cannot be hacked. You can set up your Yubikey to authenticate several accounts, making it easy to access several accounts with one authentication process.

History of Yubikey

Yubico’s Yubikey has been around since 2007, and it is perhaps one of the best hardware authentication providers in the market. Its achievements have earned them a place on The World Economic Forum’s list of 100 most innovative companies worldwide.

Over the years, the Yubikey has been upgraded to offer better flexibility and now comes in many designs that can be adapted to suit each individual’s preferences, whether they are for their laptops, workstations, tablets, or even mobile devices. The latest version of this uniquely powerful USB device can be used to protect multiple accounts simultaneously and will ensure that you never have to remember another password again.

By unifying your everyday 3-factor authentication into a single action, the Yubikey enhances security and makes authentication effortless.

What makes Yubikey so special is its ability to remove vulnerabilities related to user data. If you are accessing several accounts online, this USB key will enable you to secure them all with one authentication process.

It never sends your secret keys over any wireless or network connection. As a result, your passwords remain safe and sound with you and only you! It’s no wonder then that the Yubikey is trusted to protect users who handle sensitive information, such as those working for banks, governments, and healthcare establishments.

You don’t have to worry about anyone else piggybacking on your connection or viewing your traffic, as it only works when the physical key is present.

The Yubikey, along with a traditional username and password, can be used for multi-factor authentication protocols.

Is the Yubikey Safe?

Yes, the Yubikey is safe. The Yubikey has an enduring reputation for providing excellent security. It is one of the most effective devices for implementing multi-factor authentication, even better than some smart cards since it is affordable and widely available.

It doesn’t contain any processor or valuable data like Bluetooth does, making it highly resistant to brute force attacks and other hacking attempts.

The Yubikey works by combining a cryptographic username and password standard with the physical key to authenticate itself in the system. It then allows or denies access to accounts depending on whether or not it is successful in this validation process. When you use any electronic device that connects to the internet, such as your smartphone or laptop, it is up to you to ensure that your accounts are secure. The Yubikey makes this process very effective and prevents unauthorized access by other parties including hackers.

The Yubikey can do all of this because it contains a unique key that is only available to the public when the physical USB key is present.

What is the Cost of a Yubikey?

The cost of a Yubikey will depend on the type you want to purchase. There is the Standard edition which comes with U2F and OATH support, as well as NFC support for those with Android or iPhone smartphones. It costs $18 per unit and can be purchased in bulk for better value. The Advanced edition, on the other hand, offers everything that the standard edition does and also comes with a smart card and PIV support. This version costs $40 per unit.

Each Yubikey model can be customized to meet your individual needs whether these are for personal or work use. It is possible to purchase the devices pre-loaded with different applications such as GnuPG and SSH to secure your online accounts even further.

There is also a choice of colors to suit your preferences. If you want something more fun and youthful, the Yubikey 5 series is available in black, silver, gold, dark gray, purple, red, navy blue, white, yellow, and teal blue colors.

Yubikey’s Standout Features

A strong authentication token is only as good as the protocol it uses to communicate with the server. Some software packages do not support all types of security hardware tokens, requiring you to switch back and forth between devices depending on which site you are trying to log into. The Yubikey attempts to resolve this issue. It supports both U2F and OATH protocols which can be used on different platforms, including Google, Facebook, GitHub, Dropbox, and Dashlane.

This enables you to use a single device for your authentication needs no matter what service provider or software platform you prefer. This feature is very convenient for individuals who normally carry several security keys in their pockets just to be able to access different accounts.

The Yubikey can also be used in place of passwords and activated for multi-factor authentication through its U2F protocol. It can be used to secure up to 70 websites that offer U2F support.

The OATH protocol is used for third-party apps and services where two-factor authentication is not already set up. It enables the Yubikey to access several other accounts without having to switch back and forth between devices or use different security protocols for each service.

Potential Dealbreakers

Yubico’s YubiKey NEO may have been able to replace all of your security keys, but it won’t let you take your information with you as easily as other devices.

If you need to use the PIV smart card for work, this might not be an option for you since it is a relatively new product. You might have to wait for a while before other smart cards can be used in your work environment.

Do not lose your Yubikey! It contains security information that cannot be recovered and will need to be replaced with another one if it is ever lost or stolen. There is nothing you can do but purchase a new key. Another potential issue is the cost of the USB key itself. Although there are bulk discounts for purchasing multiple keys, this can still be an expensive option if you plan on using it to secure many accounts.

Yubikey Frequently Asked Questions

The Yubikey can be used if you are unable to use a standard security key. It is also useful for users who travel often and want one device that can work across different platforms.

You have to go through the same steps as setting up any other authentication token. The Yubikey is recognized by the operating system as any other USB device. If you are setting it up for two-factor authentication, you would need to enter the Yubikey ID and master password in addition to your regular username and password which will be used to activate your account after logging in.

If you lose your Yubikey, there isn’t much that can be done. You have to purchase a new key and generate new PINS and passwords for each account that was protected by it. This will not affect two-factor authentication tokens since they are usually linked to the provider rather than the device itself.

The Yubikey works similarly to most security keys. It sends the information stored in the key over NFC (Near Field Communication), which is a wireless communication technology that allows devices to exchange data when they are within close range.

U2F tokens and OATH tokens use different security protocols, so it is nearly impossible for one of them to be compromised without the other also being affected. Plus, the Yubikey does not store any information locally but instead transmits data between itself and your computer when you are checking out or logging in. This prevents any chance of the Yubikey being compromised.

The Yubikey can replace Google Authenticator in most cases. It is convenient for users who want to avoid carrying multiple keys, and it works almost universally with many different authentication programs.

Jinia Shawdagor

About the Author

Jinia Shawdagor

Jinia is a fintech writer based in Sweden focused on the cryptocurrency market and blockchain industry. With years of experience, she contributes to some of the most renowned crypto publications such as Cointelegraph, Invezz and others. She also has experience writing about the iGaming industry.

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