WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — More and more people are reporting about massive computer hacks and saying strong passwords don’t offer enough protection.
Two-factor authentication can help but not always. A new way to protect your computer’s data may seem old-fashioned: it’s a physical key.
There are a few security keys on the market. Google, Thetis and Yubico make them. The Yubikey series is highly recommended by consumer advocates for ease of use and the price point.
No network connection is needed, and you don’t even have to run their software. You just have to buy the key. The product’s engineering is complex, but using it is simple.
Ronnie Mannie is the CMO with Yubico.
“This is a very high level of security to be able to get into your accounts,” he said. “If you think of it similar to a house or car key…this is going to be a physical device that allows you to get into applications and services online.”
If that hacker in China, Russia or even down the street from your house doesn’t have your security key, they can’t get into your account.
So how does it work?
First, you register your security key with each account you want to protect.
Then you go to the account’s security settings and two-factor authentication and look for security key. Follow the account’s directions from there.
After you set up the key, the next time you log into that account on your computer, you will simply insert the key into your USB port and touch it.
The Yubikey has a model that works with smartphones.
FOX8 asked what happens if you lose the smart key.
“We get that question a lot. Services allow you to register multiple keys, and I like to think of this in the same way as a house key or car key where you have multiple keys to be able to get as well,” Manning said.
So it’s a good idea to have a back up key.
The smart key does not store your information.
“I’m not putting my username. I’m not putting my login credentials. Any of these things. It is all cryptography data, so it’s not something that someone is able to go in and actually pull and say ‘oh, this is Ronnie’s key to this account.’ If someone finds this key there’s nothing that they can pull or extract from it that’s going to provide any data about that user,” Manning said.
Some applications and websites are not compatible with security key technology yet. In those cases, you can use regular two-factor authentication.
For more information, visit yubico.com.