The best security keys of 2023: Expert tested
In terms of securing your online accounts, there is no better option than utilizing hardware-based two-factor authentication security keys. While practicing good password hygiene is a crucial step in protecting your digital life, certain online accounts — such as your Google or Dropbox accounts — may contain a significant amount of sensitive information that warrants additional measures.
Security keys offer an added layer of security that keeps hackers from accessing your accounts. Even if a hacker has obtained your username and password, they will still be unable to gain access to your data without the proper security key.
Not only are security keys affordable and user-friendly, they also prevent phishing attacks and are significantly more secure than SMS-based two-factor authentication. Additionally, security keys come in a variety of formats, making them compatible with any device you may have.
Let’s take a look at the best security keys currently available.
- Broad versatility
- NFC makes it compatible with both iPhone and Android devices
- Expensive, especially if you need two
- USB-A and NFC compatibility
- Compact design
- No battery required
- Water- and dust-resistant
- FIDO certified
- Multi-protocol support
- Compatible with iOS and Android mobile devices through NFC
The YubiKey 5 NFC combines the ubiquity of USB-A with the versatility of wireless NFC, enabling broad compatibility with a wide range of devices. It is FIDO certified, allowing it to work with Google Chrome and any FIDO-compliant application on Windows, macOS, or Linux. In addition, its NFC capability makes it compatible with iOS and Android mobile devices. The YubiKey USB authenticator is equipped with multi-protocol support, including FIDO2, FIDO U2F, Yubico OTP, OATH-TOTP, OATH-HOTP, smart card (PIV), OpenPGP, and challenge-response capabilities, providing strong hardware-based authentication.
- Low price
- USB-A and NFC support
- Robust and reliable
- FIDO2 + FIDO U2F certified
- Secured by NXP semiconductors
- No drivers needed for browser use
- Supports USB-A and NFC
- Protects against phishing and cyber attacks
- Low price
- Robust and reliable
- Supports desktops and laptops via USB-A, and supports Android smartphones and iPhones via NFC
Note that although iOS and iPhone are not mentioned in the specs for this key, I have tested it and can confirm that it works using NFC without any problems.
Priced at $25, this is a perfect security key for beginners. Since two keys are recommended for added security, you can purchase two for $50. The Feitian ePass K9 USB Security Key offers all the features expected from a security key at an affordable price.
- USB-C and NFC support
- Durable (IP68 rated)
- Bit more expensive than the USB-A version
- FIDO U2F AND FIDO2 certified
- Compatible with FIDO-enabled services
- USB-C and NFC support
- Compatible with Windows, MacOS, Linux, and Chrome OS
- Tamper-resistant and water- and dust-resistant (IP68)
- Easy to use for online account logins
- Durable design
- Compatible with NFC-enabled iOS and Android devices
Priced at $35, this key is ideal for those who have transitioned from USB-A to USB-C. It is compatible with any device that has a USB-C port, including PCs, Macs, and Android devices. Additionally, it can be used with NFC-enabled iOS and Android devices
- No NFVC so no support for iPhone and Android
- Tough and durable alloy shell
- 360° design with rotating aluminum alloy cover
- Looks like a USB flash drive
- FIDO2 key is backward-compatible with U2F protocol
- Compatible with latest Chrome browser on Windows, MacOS, and Linux
- All websites that comply with U2F protocols can support and protect U2F
- Affordable price
- No NFC support for iPhone and Android devices
The FIDO2 key is backward-compatible with the U2F protocol and functions with the latest Chrome browser on operating systems such as Windows, MacOS, or Linux. All websites that comply with U2F protocols can support and protect U2F.
The key is designed with a 360-degree rotating metal cover that shields the USB connector when not in use. It is also made from a durable aluminum alloy to safeguard it against drops, bumps, and scratches.
Overall, this security key is very reasonably priced.
- You get two keys
- Bluetooth support
- No USB-C
- Bluetooth key requires recharging
- FIDO U2F certified security key
- NFC interface for mobile phones and contactless readers
- BLE for compatible mobile devices (MultiPass FIDO only)
- Suitable for services requiring two security keys
- Protects against phishing and cyber attacks
- Twin-pack of keys with different capabilities
- USB-A and NFC support on one key
- Bluetooth connectivity on the other key (requires recharging)
A twin-pack of keys with different capabilities. One key provides USB-A and NFC support, while the other key provides Bluetooth connectivity. Together, they offer coverage for a wide range of platforms and devices.
- Compact and unobtrusive
- Built-in fingerprint reader
- USB-A only
- No support for macOS and ChromeOS
- Built-in biometrics for added security
- Compatible with Windows Hello login feature
- Compact and unobtrusive design
- Superior performance and 360-degree readability
- Anti-spoofing protection
- Stores up to 10 different fingerprints
- FIDO U2F certified for cloud-based account security
- USB-A only with no support for macOS and ChromeOS
The Kensington Verimark Fingerprint Key utilizes advanced biometric technology, offering superior performance and 360-degree readability, as well as anti-spoofing protection.
With Microsoft’s built-in Windows Hello login feature, logging into your Windows computer using just your fingerprint is possible. Users can store up to 10 different fingerprints, allowing multiple individuals to access the same computer without needing to remember usernames or passwords.
The Kensington Verimark Fingerprint Key is FIDO U2F certified, which means that your fingerprint can be used as a second-factor authentication to secure cloud-based accounts such as Google, Dropbox, GitHub, and Facebook.
As someone who has tested several security keys over the years, I believe that the Yubico YubiKey 5 NFC is the best security key available on the market today. It offers unbeatable security and convenience, making it a worthwhile investment for anyone looking to safeguard their online accounts.
|Security key||Price||Connector Type||NFC Support||Bluetooth Support||Waterproofing||Supported Services||Compatible Devices|
|Yubico YubiKey 5 NFC||$45||USB-A and NFC||Yes||Yes||100% water- and dust-resistant||Google Chrome, FIDO-compliant apps||Windows, macOS, Linux, iOS, Android|
|Feitian ePass K9 USB Security Key||$25||USB-A and NFC||Yes||No||N/A||U2F and FIDO2 services||Windows, macOS, Linux, Android|
|GoTrust Idem Key USB-C||$35||USB-C and NFC||Yes||Yes||IP68 water- and dust-resistant||FIDO-enabled services||Windows, macOS, Linux, Chrome OS, iOS, Android|
|Thetis Fido U2F Security Key||$24.99||USB-A||No||No||N/A||U2F services||Windows, macOS, Linux|
|Feitian MultiPass K16 and USB ePass K9 Security Keys||$49.99||USB-A, NFC, and Bluetooth||Yes (MultiPass K16 only)||Yes (MultiPass K16 only)||N/A||U2F and FIDO2 services||Windows, macOS, Linux, Android|
|Kensington Verimark Fingerprint Key||$40||USB-A||No||No||N/A||Google, Dropbox, GitHub, and Facebook||Windows|
Note: Prices and compatibility information may vary based on location and specific devices. This table is based on the information provided in the given descriptions and is subject to change.
It all boils down to which features you prioritize and your budget. Since having two security keys is recommended for added security, with one in use and the other as a backup, choosing a more affordable option could be a cost-effective decision. However, if you already use security keys or anticipate frequent use, investing in a higher-end brand may be a wise decision.
Choose this security key…
If you want…
Yubico YubiKey 5 NFC
The best security key out there. With its broad versatility and compatibility with both iPhone and Android devices, tamper-resistant, waterproof, and dust-resistant design, and multi-protocol support, this security key has it all.
Feitian ePass K9 USB Security Key
A cheap, yet quality security key. For those on a budget, the Feitian ePass K9 USB Security Key offers a quality, yet inexpensive option. With both USB-A and NFC support, it’s compatible with a wide range of devices, and its robust and reliable design ensures your security.
GoTrust Idem Key USB-C
The best value USB-C/NFC security key out there. If you’re looking for a USB-C/NFC security key that won’t break the bank, the GoTrust Idem Key USB-C is the way to go. Its durable, IP68-rated design, and compatibility with a wide range of devices, including iOS and Android, make it an excellent value.
Thetis Fido U2F Security Key
A cheap, no-frills USB-A security key. It’s tough and durable, with a 360-degree rotating metal cover that shields the USB connector when not in use.
Feitian MultiPass K16 and USB ePass K9 Security Keys
Two keys in a pack and get USB-A, NFC, and Bluetooth support. This means you can choose the key that best suits your needs, all while enjoying the added security of having two keys.
Kensington Verimark Fingerprint Key
Simple, discreet USB-A security key with built-in biometrics. For those who want a simple, discreet security key that doesn’t require a password, the Kensington Verimark Fingerprint Key is a great choice. Its compatiblity with Windows Hello login make it easy to use.
I have conducted thorough testing on every security key that is listed here, across a wide range of devices and services. I have taken into account a variety of factors such as ease of use, durability, compatibility, and security features. This includes testing the keys on different operating systems, web browsers, and services to ensure that they work smoothly and efficiently.
In addition to my own testing, I have also analyzed the feedback left by other users who have purchased and used these keys over a period of time. This helped me to confirm the long-term reliability of each key, and to identify any potential compatibility issues that users might encounter.
I am confident that the security keys listed here are reliable and effective for securing your online accounts and devices.
SMS is open to SIM hijacking, while a physical key cannot be copied or the data intercepted.
I recommend having at least two — one that you use day-to-day, and one to keep as a backup.
The best security key is the Yubico YubiKey 5 NFC, due to its broad compatibility, wide range of security features, and price.
This depends on your setup and how you plan to use your security keys. I find that I can manage with my YubiKey 5 NFC for most of the time (I can use an adapter if I need to use it on a USB-C device), but I do have USB-C and USB-A YubiKey Series 5 keys as backups.
Very reliable. I’ve been using them for years, and I’ve never had one break in use (and they’ve been subjected to heat, water, seawater, and being roughed about a lot).
Here are a few alternatives that I’ve tested that are also worth taking a look at.
TrustKey T110 FIDO2 Security Key is a good alternative because it is FIDO2 compliant and can be used with a wide range of services, providing an additional layer of security for your accounts.
Yubico YubiKey 5C is great because it is designed to work with USB-C ports, making it convenient for newer devices that have replaced traditional USB ports.
YubiKey 5C Nano is a smaller and more compact version of the YubiKey 5C, making it easier to carry around and less likely to be lost.
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