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U2F Devices as a Reliable Security Option for your Software

Online security is one of the primary concerns of every IT business. 2-factor authentication is one of the efficient ways to address data safety risks. You need more than a password to validate your identity while using 2FA and to access a device. It requires the second element (fido security key).

Security keys come in various forms: USB-A, USB-C, keys using Bluetooth, Lightning for iPhone, and more. You can also use SMS-based 2-factor authentication but we believe hardware devices to be better protection against phishing attacks. They are rather affordable as well.

So, in this article, we will cover all things related to U2F devices. We will discuss what are they, how safe these devices are, how they operate, how to use them, etc.

Let's start with the basics.

The Definition of U2F Device

Universal 2nd Factor (U2F) is an open standard that improves and simplifies two-factor authentication (2FA) by using Universal Serial Bus (USB) or NFC (near-field communication) devices based on technology similar to smart card security.

U2F keys give the IT teams a deeper level of security. The use of public key encryption significantly mitigates risks such as identity theft, unauthorized access, man-in-the-middle, and malicious software.

You don't need any special technical skills to use a U2F device. Most often it boils down to this:

  • You insert the security key U2F into your computer's USB port. Pressing the button available on the gadget will activate the program.

  • After the key is activated, you will need to enter its name.

  • The last step is to click the "Set Up Two-Factor Authentication" tab to sign in for the security key.

The Advantages of U2F Security Key

We've already begun speaking about the benefits of the U2F systems above. In the first turn, they are improving safety and cost-efficiency.

Some more benefits of U2F key are:

  • Unauthorized logins on a particular system become physically impossible.

  • FIDO standard security key is simple to use. You just plug it in and tap the button to activate. No codes to input and no software to run.

  • FIDO U2F security key is durable, crush-proof, and resistant to water.

  • FIDO standard security key can be used for Chromebooks on Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X, Linux, and Chrome OS.

Common Drawbacks of U2F Security Keys

Undoubtedly, 2FA is a huge leap in data protection in comparison to reusable passwords. We don't say that a USB key is absolutely perfect security mean. What it does for you is significantly increases security. You can compare the feeling to the one when you change your old spring latch door lock to a new deadbolt type lock. Ok, you will feel much safer but what about the downsides of U2F devices? Do they have any?

Some cons of using a USB key as the second factor of authentication:

  • You must have the USB key with you each time you want to log in (or use a fallback password or "What you know" secret to log in).

  • The machine or system to which you want to sign in must have a functioning USB port with the same form of the connector as the USB key. If the key is using Bluetooth, the computer must also support relevant wireless connection methods.

  • It's not a big deal if you forget your password (you can reset it in a matter of minutes) but if you lose your USB key, it may take more time to replace it.

Author's note: The above drawbacks are sooner inconveniences similar to the necessity to lock your house and car doors and carry keys to those locks.

Examples of U2F Security Keys

Although standard 2FA systems that send you emails or text messages to validate your identity are better than nothing, we will include a few examples of physical hardware-based security keys in this section that will fully meet your cybersecurity needs.

A user can access a system plugging a mobile into a USB port without inserting any sort of code.

Hardware security keys ground on the FIDO U2F open authentication standard. The standard was developed by Google together with the Yubico security company. Currently, U2F is trusted by such well-known Internet companies as Github, Facebook, and Gmail.

If you are looking to implement 2FA with hardware security key as a second factor, the best solutions available in the market today featured below will help you select a suitable option.

Yubico U2F Security Key
Yubico U2F security key
Yubico with its Yubikeys is an unconditional leader offering security keys of the top quality. Secure access with YubiKey will be appreciated by both individuals and businesses.

YubiKey is delivered in different forms, with different sets of features. If you are not sure which product is a perfect fit for your business, you can take a quick quiz on the Yubico site. You will be offered a security key from YubiKey 5 Series, Security Key Series, or YubiKey FIPS Series.

For example, the newest YubiKey 5 Series product available now is the YubiKey 5Ci. It is the first innovative multi-protocol (smart card, OTP, U2F, FIDO2/WebAuthn) authenticator fitted with dual Lightning and USB-C connectors on a single key.

If you, as the most of software development companies are a heavy Jira user looking for the best ways to protect your project data, use a powerful combination of 2FA add-on for Jira and one of the YubiKeys. Choose verified Yubico partners like Alpha Serve to make your experience excellent and avoid compatibility issues.

Wind Up

To conclude, this article was aimed to tell you more about FIDO security keys, discuss their advantages in terms of improved data security, and mention some best solutions like FIDO U2F YubiKey available in the market today.

Seems like now you have enough information to decide on the second factor of your 2-factor authentication. For those who are just thinking about how to implement 2FA for their Jira system, we recommend taking benefit from partnerships similar to Alpha Serve - Yubico. They will not only give you a better price for the whole offer but guarantee the best service, support, and quality of applications and devices.