Yuibco Security Key C NFC black

Yubico Security Key C NFC review: play it safe

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A more affordable way to keep hackers at bay, the Yubico Security Key C NFC makes it easier to secure your online accounts.

One of the challenges with passwords is that they need to be secure and unique, to ensure they’re difficult for people to guess or machines to crack. Unfortunately, this also makes them difficult for us to remember, so people can be tempted to compromise on complexity for the sake of convenience – which is a recipe for disaster.

Two-factor authentication, also known as multi-factor authentication, improves your security by adding an extra layer of defence. It revolves around proving your identity in multiple ways, typically relying on something you know and something you have.

The something you know is your login and password, while the something you have can be something like a security device. You need both pieces of the puzzle to get in – helping protect an account even if hackers get their hands on your password.

The Yubico Security Key C NFC is Yubico’s latest security device, making it easy to use multi-factor authentication on all of your gadgets. It’s the most affordable Yubico key yet, but in return, it also lacks some advanced features, so it’s important to check that it will meet your needs.

Yubico Security Key C NFC first impressions

The tiny Yubico Security Key C NFC is small, light and robust enough to keep on your car keys, complete with a reinforced punch hole so you can slot it onto a keyring or lanyard. It comes with a USB-C plug, but you can also opt for the “Yubico Security Key NFC” model which features a USB-A plug. While USB-C is becoming more common in devices, it also offers the added benefit of not leaving the contacts exposed where they could potentially be scratched.

The little key is certainly designed to survive some rough and tumble. It’s built from glass-fibre reinforced plastic, with an IP68 rating (water and dust resistant) as well as crush resistance. The device doesn’t feature moving parts or even require batteries.

It’s important to note that there are quite a few Yubico keys to choose from and it can get a bit confusing. This new Yubico Security Key range is the most affordable, but some of the other Yubico models come with a wider range of sizes and connector options such as Apple’s Lightning.

That’s less of an issue now that even Apple has come to the party with standardising on USB-C. Plus you have the advantage of built-in NFC, which means you can simply tap the Yubico Security Key C NFC on some of your devices, rather than needing to slot it into a port.

Set-up is pretty straightforward but takes time because you need to register the key individually with each service you want to protect. For example, you can register it with your Google account on a computer using Google’s Security Keys menu.

Simply click “Add a security key”, insert the Yubico key into your computer’s USB slot and place your finger on the gold disc to wake up the key. Now you can use it as a two-factor authentication device when logging into Google on a new desktop, laptop, smartphone or tablet. 

Once the key is set up with a service, it’s easy to use. For example, log into Google in a browser on a computer for the first time and – after you’ve entered your login and password – you’ll be asked to insert the key and press your finger on the gold disc. You’ve still got the choice to opt for another two-factor method, such as getting a one-time code from the Google Authenticator app or via SMS. 

It’s a similar process on a smartphone, holding the key on the back of your handset so it can connect via NFC.

Once you’re authenticated you’re given the option to “don’t ask again on this device”, so you don’t need to continually use two-factor authentication on your trusted devices. Again, it’s a trade-off of security against convenience. 

With some services like Microsoft, you have the option of using the key for passwordless authentication. The key can also store passkeys used by services like Google and Apple. 

Yubico Security Key C NFC specifications

ConnectivityChoice of USB-A or USB-C
NFC wireless
Security standardsFIDO2/WebAuthn and FIDO U2F 
RuggednessIP68 – water, dust and crush resistant
Dimensions45 x 18 x 3 mm
Weight10 gm
PriceUS$25 USB-A (around AU$40)
US$29 USB-C (around AU$45)
Warranty1 year
Official websiteYubico

Features

It’s important to note that Yubico keys don’t work with every service, only those that support them. Right now that’s around 300 services, including business tools, social media accounts and gaming accounts. You can even use a Yubico key to log into macOS or Windows.

It’s worth checking the Yubico website to ensure the Yubico Security Key C NFC covers the services you want to protect. Some of the more notable that are covered include Google, Microsoft, Apple iCloud, AWS, Facebook, Twitter, eBay, Yahoo and Zoho. The BitWarden and 1Password password managers are also on the list.

You’ll notice that some of the services are greyed out on this page, because the Yubico Security Key C NFC doesn’t support as many services as some of the other Yubico keys. This includes LastPass, which is likely to frustrate some people, so choose your Yubico key with care.

Similarly, it’s worth noting that the NFC features of all Yubico keys don’t work with every iOS and Android app, so it’s worth checking if you’ve got specific apps in mind.

If these limitations won’t impact the way you want to use the Yubico Security Key C NFC, then it’s probably a good fit for your needs. But before you take the plunge, it’s important to appreciate a few other technical limitations compared to the more expensive Yubico keys. 

Firstly, the Yubico Security Key C NFC doesn’t support some high-end encryption standards, which is part of the reason it doesn’t work with as many services. It does support the widely used FIDO2/WebAuthn and FIDO U2F standards, which is enough to cover most scenarios where you need to log into an online account.

Meanwhile, it doesn’t support OATH-TOTP, OATH-HOTP, OpenPGP and smart card authentication (PIV). That won’t matter to many people but it’s important to know if you’re hoping to use a Yubico key for more advanced use cases, which are most likely in a workplace rather than for personal use.

Yubico Yubikey 2FA Security Key Black NFC USB-C
  • Keep your online accounts safe from hackers with the Security Key by Yubico. Trustworthy and easy-to-use, it’s your key to a safer digital world.
  • CONVENIENT AND PORTABLE: Fits easily on your keychain, making it convenient to carry and use wherever you go, ensuring secure access to your accounts at all times. Simply plug in via USB-C or tap on your NFC-enabled device to authenticate.
  • VERSATILE COMPATIBILITY: Supported by Google and Microsoft accounts, password managers and hundreds of other popular services. It works with Windows, macOS, ChromeOS and Linux. Search for “Works With YubiKey” for list of compatible services.

Finally, the Yubico Security Key C NFC doesn’t support One Time Passwords (OTP) and the Yubico Authenticator app, which is more surprisingly still probably not a dealbreaker for most people. Both of these create one-time codes as an extra form of authentication.

Who is the Yubico Security Key C NFC for?

The rundown of the Yubico Security Key C NFC’s limitations compared to more expensive Yubico keys paints a glass-half-empty picture, but don’t be put off. Realistically, it still meets the needs of most people, you just need to choose with care.

Halving the price compared to other Yubico keys, while removing a few high-end features, makes it accessible to a lot more people – perhaps even affordable enough for you to buy them for family and friends who need to up their security game.

It’s important to understand this security key’s limitations and whether a more expensive Yubico device would be a better fit for your needs. If the Yubico Security Key C NFC fits the bill, it’s an excellent way to beef up your security and protect your accounts against uninvited guests.

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Yubico Security Key C NFC
Small enough to live on your keyring and secure enough to keep hackers at bay, the Yubico Security Key C NFC is the key to protecting your online accounts.
Features
8.5
Value for money
10
Performance
10
Ease of use
10
Design
10
Positives
Increases security of online accounts
Very affordable
Easy to set up and use
Negatives
Doesn't support some high-end security standards
Doesn't support OTP and Yubico Authenticator app
9.7