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iPhone owners can now plug in hardware security keys with the YubiKey 5Ci

Yubico's new $70 key uses Apple's Lightning but also supports USB-C connections to Android phones and PCs.

Yubico's YubiKey 5Ci hardware security key works offers stronger authentication security on iOS for apps and browsers that support the underlying technology. It's got Lightning and USB-C connectors so it also works on PCs and Android devices.

Yubico's YubiKey 5Ci hardware security key offers stronger authentication security on iOS for apps and browsers that support the underlying technology. It's got Lightning and USB-C connectors so it also works on PCs and Android devices.

Yubico

iPhone owners now have a way to plug hardware security keys straight into their phones. They can use the new YubiKey 5Ci, which went on sale Tuesday and will work with newer laptops and Android phones, too.

Yubico's double-whammy $70 YubiKey 5Ci security key has a Lightning connector on one end and USB-C on the other. It's the first Lightning-based security key, the company says. And though it doesn't yet work with USB-C iPad Pro tablets or PCs with only the older rectangular USB-A ports, it covers a lot more options for people with multiple devices.

Hardware security keys are a top option these days for keeping hackers out of your accounts. Google credits hardware security keys for eliminating phishing attacks against its employees. They're one of a handful of technologies that could help us move beyond the numerous problems with passwords.

On iPhones and iPads, the YubiKey 5Ci works with a variety of password manager apps that people can use to organize their passwords, including 1Password, Bitwarden, LastPass, Dashlane and Okta. It also works in the Brave browser for iOS, which permits security key-based logon to websites including Twitter, Login.gov, GitHub and Bitbucket, Yubico said. And the company has released a software developer kit that lets other iOS browser makers and other app creators add support.

Beyond that, you can check Yubico's catalog of compatible services.

One of the most notable adopters of hardware security keys is Google, which even sells its own Titan Key. However, Gmail and Chrome don't support Yubico's Lightning-connected hardware key. Google supports keys with USB-C and NFC wireless communication technology, though, and has said it's listening to whether people want support for Lightning-equipped hardware security keys, too.

With modern authentication standard like FIDO2 and its related website technology, WebAuthn, hardware security keys can work alone to grant access to a service or can be used in combination with passwords or with fingerprint reading, face recognition or other biometric technology. For website access, browsers that support FIDO2 and WebAuthn include Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge, Brave Software's Brave and newer versions of Safari Technology Preview, where Apple tests new features before adding them to the ordinary version of its browser.

Some hardware security keys work wirelessly with Bluetooth or NFC standards, but those that plug into a port are conceptually more like conventional keys you'd use to unlock your house or car. Support for hardware security keys is relatively rare these days, but for sites and services that offer it, you can enroll multiple keys so you have spares and guard against loss.

Owners of newer iPad Pro tablets will have to wait, but Yubico said its goal is to get the Yubikey 5Ci to work on all devices.

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