Best YubiKey in 2022 — type comparison review

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Yubico are the makers of the most popular line of security keys, YubiKey. These tiny, USB-flash-like devices are used for hardware-based two-factor authentication. Instead of relying on SMS or emails, which aren’t the most secure 2FA options, you’ve got a physical device that cannot be hacked or circumvented. And even if you lose one, there are ways to quickly deauthorize it from any platforms you’ve used it with. This is why we recommend always having a spare security key so that you can quickly replace the one you lost instead of going back to software-based 2FA solutions.

Now, Yubico offer a ton of different YubiKey devices along with a couple of budget security keys that don’t carry the YubiKey branding. Most of the products are pretty similar in what they offer, but they differ in some key specs. Below you can find the best YubiKey for your specific needs. Whether you’re looking for a YubiKey that can work with a range of devices, a budget solution, or a YubiKey made for businesses, we’ve got you covered.

1. YubiKey 5Ci: Best YubiKey for Apple ecosystem

USB TYPE
USB-C
NFC-ENABLED
No
CERTIFICATIONS
FIDO 2
FIDO U2F

Let’s start with the latest and greatest 5th generation YubiKey that features USB-C and Lighting connectors. This is the best Yubikey for users who own an iPhone and a second Apple product such as an iMac, iPad, or MacBook.

Since Apple decided to equip all of their products sans the most popular one, the iPhone, with at least one USB-C connector, you can’t get a USB-C-only YubiKey if you own an iPhone. So, if you’re knee-deep into the Apple ecosystem, this is the only YubiKey you need.

Aside from Apple fans, the YubiKey 5Ci is also great for iPhone owners who don’t own any other Apple product. You might need a USB-C to USB-A adapter, but at least you’ll be able to switch between your iPhone and computer(s) seamlessly and won’t have to get a separate security key for your smartphone.

  • Supported password managers: 1Password, Keeper®, LastPass Premium, Bitwarden Premium
  • Function: WebAuthn, FIDO2 CTAP1, FIDO2 CTAP2, Universal 2nd Factor (U2F), Smart card (PIV-compatible), Yubico OTP, OATH – HOTP (Event), OATH – TOTP (Time), Open PGP, Secure Static Password

2. Yubico FIDO Security Key NFC: Best budget YubiKey

USB TYPE
USB-A
NFC-ENABLED
Yes
CERTIFICATIONS
FIDO 2
FIDO U2F

The FIDO Security Key NFC doesn’t support the Yubico authentication app and therefore doesn’t bear YubiKey branding. On the other hand, this tiny and cheap security key includes FIDO authentication allowing you to use it with most web services, browsers such as Google Chrome, and most password managers. In other words, this is the best security key for regular users who just want a physical 2FA for their favorite web services.

You’ve got NFC support and a USB-A port. These two allow you to use this budget security key with most desktop and laptop PCs and every smartphone with NFC support. And if you require USB-C instead of the regular-sized USB port, there’s a USB-C version of the Yubico FIDO Security Key that’s great for users who’ve entirely switched to USB-C. Do note that LastPass Premium requires a 5th generation YubiKey and it won’t work with this budget option.

  • Supported password managers: 1Password, Keeper®, Bitwarden Premium
  • Function: WebAuthn, FIDO2 CTAP1, FIDO2 CTAP2, Universal 2nd Factor (U2F)

3. YubiKey 5 NFC: Best YubiKey for desktop PC & smartphone combo

USB TYPE
USB-A
NFC-ENABLED
Yes
CERTIFICATIONS
FIDO 2
FIDO U2F

The YubiKey 5 NFC is the most popular YubiKey device and the best choice for most users. You’ve got a USB-A and NFC combo that should work with most PCs and smartphones. At the same time, this YubiKey supports most security functions and all popular password managers.

A great combo of features that should be enough for everyone except power users or those who want specific features, such as biometric protection. 

  • Supported password managers: 1Password, Keeper®, LastPass Premium, Bitwarden Premium
  • Function: WebAuthn, FIDO2 CTAP1, FIDO2 CTAP2, Universal 2nd Factor (U2F), Smart card (PIV-compatible), Yubico OTP, OATH – HOTP (Event), OATH – TOTP (Time), Open PGP, Secure Static Password

4. YubiKey 5C NFC: Best Yubikey for laptop & smartphone combo

USB TYPE
USB-C
Lighting
NFC-ENABLED
Yes
CERTIFICATIONS
FIDO 2
FIDO U2F

The YubiKey 5C NFC is the USB-C version of the YubiKey 5 NFC. Since it comes with a USB-C port instead of USB-A, it’s perfect for users who rely solely on USB-C connectivity or those who own a USB-C-equipped laptop and a smartphone.

  • Supported password managers: 1Password, Keeper®, LastPass Premium, Bitwarden Premium
  • Function: WebAuthn, FIDO2 CTAP1, FIDO2 CTAP2, Universal 2nd Factor (U2F), Smart card (PIV-compatible), Yubico OTP, OATH – HOTP (Event), OATH – TOTP (Time), Open PGP, Secure Static Password

5. YubiKey 5 Nano: Best set-and-forget YubiKey

USB TYPE
USB-A
NFC-ENABLED
No
CERTIFICATIONS
FIDO 2
FIDO U2F

The YubiKey 5 Nano is perfect for people who log into multiple services on a daily basis and just need a security key they can insert into a USB port and then forget about it. The Nano version of YubiKey offers just that: a miniature form factor with USB-A connectivity that can be inserted into a desktop PC and used on a daily basis.

This is also the best choice for a spare security key. You can fit it inside any wallet, drawer, or any other place you plan to keep it if you lose your main YubiKey. Just don’t use it as a portable security key for multiple devices since it’s so tiny it just begs to be misplaced.

  • Supported password managers: 1Password, Keeper®, LastPass Premium, Bitwarden Premium
  • Function: WebAuthn, FIDO2 CTAP1, FIDO2 CTAP2, Universal 2nd Factor (U2F), Smart card (PIV-compatible), Yubico OTP, OATH – HOTP (Event), OATH – TOTP (Time), Open PGP, Secure Static Password

6. YubiKey Bio: Best YubiKey for biometric protection

USB TYPE
USB-C
Lighting
NFC-ENABLED
No
CERTIFICATIONS
FIDO 2
FIDO U2F

Users that demand their security key comes with biometric security features should check out the YubiKey Bio. This is a USB-A security key with the same features as other 5th gen YubiKey devices with an added bonus of having a built-in fingerprint scanner.

The YubiKey Bio is also great for work-from-home scenarios where your workers have to have a remote-capable biometric authentication or for scenarios where it’s cheaper to get a device like this instead of purchasing new laptops with a built-in fingerprint scanner.

While the YubiKey Bio supports most of the features of regular 5th gen YubiKey devices, it lacks support for LastPass. It also doesn’t support most Identity & Access Management services (AWS Identity and Access Management, Google Cloud Identity, Microsoft Azure AD, etc.).

  • Supported password managers: 1Password, Keeper®, Bitwarden Premium
  • Function: WebAuthn, FIDO2 CTAP1, FIDO2 CTAP2, Universal 2nd Factor (U2F)

7. YubiHSM 2 FIPS: Best YubiKey for businesses

USB TYPE
USB-A
NFC-ENABLED
No
Certifications
FIPS 140-2

Last but not least, we have the big gun. Despite being minuscule, the YubiHSM 2 FIPS is a powerful security key made for large businesses. It’s perfect for improving your organization’s cryptographic keys protection, providing hardware-backed keys for Microsoft-based PKI implementation, protecting IoT environments, enhancing the security of crypto exchanges, etc.

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Senior Hardware Editor