iPhone owners with a mind toward security have a new option for protecting their online accounts. On Tuesday, security key manufacturer Yubico announced the $70 YubiKey 5Ci, which the company says is the world's first Lightning port-compatible security key.
At launch, the 5Ci supports a variety of popular password managers, including 1Password, Dashlane, LastPass and Bitwarden. It's also compatible with authentication services like Okta. In all those instances, you'll be able to plug in the 5Ci into your iPhone, launch the security app of your choice and log in to an online account without ever entering a password. And if you happen to use Brave instead of Safari for web browsing, the 5Ci removes the need to first open a password manager first in the case of some online services.
The 5Ci also includes a USB-C port for when you need to log in through an Android device or computer. However, one limitation of the 5Ci is that it currently doesn't work with the 2018 iPad Pro. We've reached out to Yubikey to find the exact reason for this limitation, but we suspect it has something to do with restrictions iOS 12 places on USB-C connectivity. That could change when iOS 13 comes out this fall. The Yubikey 5Ci also doesn't work with any FIDO-compliant service or app out of the box. In a statement to The Verge, Yubico said third-party developers must add support for the 5Ci to their apps individually. A full list of compatible services is available on the company's website.
If you're not familiar with physical security keys, they're currently one of the most effective ways to protect yourself against online hackers because they remove the need for passwords and one-time codes, both of which malicious individuals can easily intercept in the right circumstances. In 2018, Google said it was able to reduce successful phishing attacks on its 85,000 employees to zero thanks to a new policy of mandatory security keys.
However, at $70 the 5Ci is one of the more expensive security keys out on the market. If you're looking for something more affordable, Yubico also offers the $45 YubiKey 5 NFC, which is similarly compatible with the iPhone. Another option is Google's $50 Titan security key, which has the advantage of also working through Bluetooth. And while a security key will help keep you as safe as possible, most people need to start with a simple password manager, as reused passwords are the single largest culprit behind hacked accounts. Once you have a password manager, a security key like the YubiKey 5Ci is a good next step if you want to further secure your online accounts.