A security key, also known as a hardware security key or a cryptographic token, is a physical device used for two-factor authentication (2FA) and to enhance the security of online accounts and systems. It serves as a second layer of protection beyond passwords, helping to prevent unauthorized access to sensitive information and accounts.
- Physical Device: A security key is a tangible object, often resembling a USB flash drive, that users plug into their devices when authenticating.
- Public-Key Cryptography: Security keys use public-key cryptography to generate a unique digital signature for each login attempt. This signature is difficult to forge or replicate.
- Two-Factor Authentication: When logging into an account or system, users typically enter their password and then insert the security key to complete the authentication process.
- Phishing Protection: Security keys are effective against phishing attacks because even if a user unknowingly enters their password on a phishing site, the attacker won’t have the physical security key needed for authentication.
- Online Accounts: Individuals and organizations use security keys to protect access to email, social media, banking, and other online accounts.
- Enterprise Security: Many businesses and institutions use security keys to safeguard sensitive corporate data and systems.
- Enhanced Security: Security keys provide robust protection against unauthorized access, even in the event of password breaches.
- Phishing Prevention: They offer strong protection against phishing attacks, which often trick users into revealing their passwords.
- User-Friendly: While highly secure, security keys are user-friendly and easy to use.
- Compatibility: They can be used with a wide range of online services that support two-factor authentication.