We’re living in a digital era where we’re continuously surrounded by several cyber threats that may have a severe impact on our personal and professional lives.
Whether we talk about the rising number of identity thefts or compromised sensitive information, individuals and organizations must quickly put their best foot forward to mitigate the risk.
However, adding stringent layers of security through diverse practices, including multi-factor authentication (MFA), has proven to be fruitful in minimizing the risks.
These security practices add an extra security layer other than passwords and ensure that the right person has access to the right information.
When it comes to robust security for a seamless authentication and authorization experience, security keys are considered one of the best ways to prove one’s identity.
This post reveals all the aspects associated with a physical security key and helps you understand its advantages.
What is a Security Key?
A security key is a physical USB drive that connects with your devices, including computers and laptops, to prove identity to access specific resources on a network.
These kinds of keys can be connected to devices via USB, Bluetooth connection, or a USB-C port and are super simple to use whenever you need to go through an additional identity verification process.
Just like the conventional OTPs and email verification, security keys can be used to authenticate a user whenever they wish to access specific resources or need to log in to their accounts on a website or an application.
Several organizations encourage their employees to leverage a security key whenever they’re working on sensitive data or logging from a remote location.
Advantages of Using a Security Key
Besides offering multi-factor authentication for seamless and secure access management and log-in, security keys offer a number of advantages. Here’s the list:
Easy of Access
One of the significant advantages of using a physical security key is the ease of access. Since a security key is compact and can be easily carried, they offer a frictionless authentication experience.
Users can carry them in their purses or wallet and can even attach the same with their keyrings. It’s a ready-to-use plug-and-play device.
These keys need to be registered to a website, which helps them mitigate the chances of phishing that further helps to eliminate any possibility of a data breach.
Security key leverages FIDO’s U2F (Universal Second Factor) protocol that helps prevent users from accidentally falling victim to any phishing attacks. It only authenticates and authorizes users on the correct domain even if they mistakenly register the key on the wrong website.
Since the actual user carries the device, chances of misuse of any security token or even a one-time password (OTP) are negligible. Hence it’s pretty safe to rely on security keys.
One Key Serves Multiple Purposes
Another significant advantage of a physical security key is that it can be used for Single Sign-On (SSO), Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA), and sometimes even support FIDO authentication standards, including Universal Second Factor (U2F).
Many organizations utilize security keys and eventually encourage their employees to use them as they have to deal with sensitive information regarding business and clients. This information, if leaked, may lead to specific financial and reputation consequences for the organization.
The Disadvantage of Security Key
Besides the endless advantages of security keys regarding authentication and authorization, the major drawback is that these keys are costly.
Organizations and individuals find it more expensive to purchase and maintain a physical key than other software alternatives.
Sometimes the authentication process is slower, which eventually hampers user experience, and thus users incline towards other alternatives that can offer multi-factor authentication.
Security keys are shaping the future of security and are pretty helpful in certain situations. Users can ensure the highest level of protection through this physical plug and play security keys anywhere, anytime.
However, those that require excellent user experience coupled with robust security must consider relying on risk-based authentication (RBA) solutions designed to deliver exceptional user experience with stringent security mechanisms.