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.
Stephen Shanklandprincipal writer
Stephen Shankland has been a reporter at CNET since 1998 and writes about processors, digital photography, AI, quantum computing, computer science, materials science, supercomputers, drones, browsers, 3D printing, USB, and new computing technology in general. He has a soft spot in his heart for standards groups and I/O interfaces. His first big scoop was about radioactive cat poop.
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owners now have a way to plug hardware security keys straight into their
. They can use the new YubiKey 5Ci, which went on sale Tuesday and will work with newer
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
or PCs with only the older rectangular USB-A ports, it covers a lot more options for people with multiple devices.
On iPhones and
, 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
, 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.
One of the most notable adopters of hardware security keys is Google, which even sells its own Titan Key. However, Gmail and
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,
, Brave Software's Brave and newer versions of Safari Technology Preview, where
tests new features before adding them to the ordinary version of its browser.
Some hardware security keys work wirelessly with
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.