iPhone set to match Android security with new Yubico hardware key

The YubiKey for Lightning supports Apple’s proprietary iPhone and iPad port on one end and the USB-C port common on Android phones and PCs on the other end.

Yubico

Hardware security key maker Yubico has a new product in the works to give iPhones the same authentication technology available today to Android phones and to Windows and Mac personal computers.

Previewed at the CES show this week, the YubiKey for Lightning supports Apple’s proprietary iPhone and iPad port on one end and the USB-C port common on Android phones and PCs. By tapping into logon standards such as FIDO 2, WebAuthn, and U2F, hardware security keys provide extra security in addition to passwords — or sometimes with no password at all.

Hardware security keys are an important development in the quest to keep accounts secure from hackers and identity thieves. The new YubiKey for Lightning should help iPhone owners keep up with modern practices.

Passwords are plagued with shortcomings — chiefly that the ones easiest to remember and type are the most vulnerable — and even stronger protections like one-time codes sent by text message are increasingly vulnerable. Google credits its security keys for thwarting phishing attacks against its employees.

To use the keys, from companies like Yubico and Feitian, you insert the key into your device’s USB port during logon and push a button. You might have to use them in conjunction with a second authentication factor like passwords, fingerprints or face recognition. Some of Yubico’s keys work wirelessly, too, with NFC (near-field communication) radio technology.

Even though newer iPhones support NFC, though, there are limits that hobbled YubiKey abilities. The Lightning-enabled model should get around those, Yubico said.

The product should be a boon to anyone using hardware keys to protect accounts like Gmail, Microsoft Outlook and Office 365, Dropbox, Twitter, Facebook, Github, LastPass, 1Password and Dashlane.

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