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Yubico Security Key NFC review

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9.5Expert Score
Compact security

The Yubico Security Key NFC offers multifactor authentication with minimal effort, though you’ll need two to be extra secure.

Design
10
Performance
9
Pros
  • Easy to setup
  • Works with over 300 services
  • NFC and USB makes it versatile
Cons
  • Easy to lose, so you need two
  • Setting up across multiple services can be time consuming

Personal fraud is a pretty huge deal. According to ABS figures, in Australia almost 200,000 people were victims of identity theft in 2022-23, with more than 500,000 falling victim to a scam and 430,000 victims of online impersonation.

What many people may not realise is that there are ways to help protect your personal data online. Secure passwords via a password manager are a start, but to really ensure your information remains secure, a physical security key is a strong option.

The Yubico Security Key C NFC is a simple-to-use security key that offers additional multifactor authentication for many online platforms. 

There are two versions of the Yubico Security Key NFC: A USB-A model and a USB-C model (which included the “C” before NFC in its name). Aside from the connector, they are identical, so I’m combining them for the review, though it’s the Security Key C NFC I used for most of my testing.

Yubico Security Key C NFC plugged into a MacBook pro

Design

The very idea behind a hardware security key is its simplicity, and the Yubico offering fits the bill.

It looks just like a basic USB thumb drive. Depending on the version you pick up, it will have either a USB-A or USB-C port, with a black plastic body and a depressed gold Yubico logo in the middle.

It also has a small hole at the top, which makes it easy to pop onto your keys so you always have it with you. That’s one of the necessary things about using a physical security key – you need to make sure you don’t leave home without it.

It feels solid and robust, though. Unlike some flash drives I’ve used in the past, there’s no real flex with the Yubico Security Key NFC. 

The other key feature of this particular model is NFC support, as you may have guessed from the name. Once you’ve set up your security key, you can use either the USB port on a laptop or the NFC chip in your phone to authenticate your identity and securely login to your account.

Support

If you’ve never considered a hardware solution to multifactor authentication before, there is a lot to like. The Yubico Security Key works with over 300 different services. 

That includes big name services like Google and Microsoft, Facebook and Instagram, as well as niche services like Twitch, Trello, and plenty more.

From a security standpoint, this model supports FIDO-only protocols. For most people, that’s all you will ever need, but if you aren’t most people, there is a more premium model that offers wider protocol compatibility.

The two models of the Yubico Security Key NFC

Performance

There are two parts to using a security key. First, you need to set it up for your desired accounts. Then you use it to unlock your account.

By design, you need to set up a security key with every service that you want to use multifactor authentication with. 

I tested firstly with my Google Workspace account, and it was effortless. From the account settings menu, I selected to add a security key, plugged in the Yubico key and touched the gold logo in the middle, and it was done.

It was a similar process for social media accounts like Facebook.

It’s important to remember that the process is determined by the platform rather than Yubico or any other hardware manufacturer. But from my experience, it worked every time.

Logging in

The Yubico Security Key NFC works with Windows, macOS, ChromeOS and Linux computers. I tested with macOS because that’s what I have.

But it also works with mobile devices, which is an added benefit.

Fortunately, the entire process is simple. When signing in to a new device, you enter your login details as usual. 

However, for the platforms you have set up multifactor authentication with using the key, you are prompted to insert and touch the key to authenticate.

Using my MacBook Pro, the entire process took seconds.

The key benefit of this particular security key is the NFC capability. Logging in to my gmail account on an incognito browser on my iPhone 15 Pro, I was prompted to use the security key. 

Because of the NFC capability, I simply had to tap the key to the top of the phone next to the camera, and the account was unlocked.

It worked every time I tried it. I had no issues. And because the iPhone 15 Pro supports USB-C rather than Lightning, I tested plugging in the security key instead of NFC, and it worked just as well.

Risks and challenges

In my testing, everything worked exactly as it should. However, I think it’s important to flag the biggest risk associated with these devices — they are very losable.

Yubico suggests you have a backup key, just like you would always have a backup house key. The catch with that is that the Security Key NFC is significantly pricier than getting a second house key cut. 

It’s a process to set up the multifactor authentication for one key, let alone two.

With the rise of Passkey security, you may find that is a better solution for your needs, rather than a (or two) physical key(s) you may lose. 

Yubico security keys

Verdict

The Yubico Security Key NFC and Security Key C NFC did exactly what was asked of it. 

Securing your online accounts with a physical key is an easy, if ongoing process, and unlocking your accounts is as simple as inserting the key or tapping against the NFC chip in your device.

There is a risk of losing your key and becoming locked out of all your accounts, so it’s best to factor in the cost of a second device as a backup. 

But whether that extra cost makes sense versus the risk of having your accounts compromised is something you need to work out for yourself.

Buy the Yubico Security Key NFC online

AU $52.50
+ Delivery *
3 new from AU $52.50
as of 24 May 2024 3:07 am
Amazon.com.au
AU $58.00
Free delivery
* Delivery cost shown at checkout.
AU $65.17
+ Delivery *
Mydeal.com.au
AU $66.00
+ Delivery *
Mydeal.com.au
AU $79.99
+ Delivery *
2 new from AU $79.99
as of 24 May 2024 3:07 am
Amazon.com.au
* Delivery cost shown at checkout.
Product disclosure

Yubico supplied the product for this review.

Author

  • Nick Broughall

    Nick is the founder and editor of BTTR. He is an award winning product reviewer, who has spent the last 20 years writing, editing and publishing technology and consumer content for brands like Finder, Gizmodo and TechRadar.

    View all posts
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