The Best Security Key for Your Crypto: YubiKey 5 NFC

Yubico Yubikey 5 – Setup, Demo and Full Review

When it comes to protecting your data, SMS-based or app-based two-factor authentication using your smartphone is more secure than depending only on passwords. But it can also be time-consuming to set up and use. Hardware-based security keys provide a fast, no-fuss way to use two-factor authentication without having to mess around with your phone. They are based on the FIDO U2F standard, a security protocol that is difficult to intercept; it was developed by Google and security company Yubico, and is now administered by the FIDO Alliance.

While Yubico helped develop the standard, it is not the only company that produces security keys, so it’s wise to shop around. A lot of what makes buying a security key tricky is first figuring out which device(s) you plan to use it with. Yubico offers different keys for devices with USB-A, USB-C, or NFC connections, while Google offers one that uses Bluetooth. You should also check out whether your apps support the U2F standard. (Yubico has a list of apps that work with its key; since most keys use the same standard, they should also work with those services.)

Unfortunately, while you can use a key to authenticate a macOS system, there is not yet a key that will get you into Windows — unless you’re fond of the Edge browser. The new FIDO2 standard, which was built to enable password-free authentication, can use Windows Hello together with Microsoft’s Edge browser to authenticate Windows, if the key supports it.

Otherwise, it’s best to go with a security key that is simple to set up, convenient to carry, and will keep your various apps safe and secure.

Yubico’s YubiKey 5 NFC — which uses both a USB-A connector and wireless NFC — is the best key for logging into your online accounts, services, macOS computers, Android devices, and the iPhone 7 and up. I’ve never had any issues using it in a USB-A port, or with a mobile device using the NFC feature. The YubiKey 5 NFC supports a plethora of security standards, including OTP, Smart Card, OpenPGP, FIDO U2F, and FIDO2.

The key itself is “made in the USA and Sweden,” and comes packaged in a simple cardboard and plastic container. It has a single, easily identifiable gold disk for you to press when you want to confirm your sign-in and includes a keyhole ring to use with a keychain so you don’t lose your valuable security key. It’s also incredibly durable, waterproof, and crush resistant. I’ve been carrying this key around in my pocket, attached to a keychain, and bouncing around inside my backpack, and it hasn’t had any noticeable damage.

Yubcio sells the individual YubiKey 5 NFC keys individually, as part of a two-pack, a 10-pack, or a whole set of 50 if you need that many security keys for a team. It’s proven itself to work for logging into my social media and email accounts time and time again. This is definitely the best key for most users — my only complaint is that Yubico doesn’t sell a similar version for USB-C.

  • SIMPLE – A most effective way to protect against account takeovers
  • EASY – Intuitive user experience and fast setup, deployment, and use
  • SCALABLE– Integrates with systems tailored for all business types and sizes
  • EFFICIENT– Reduce helpdesk tickets for password reset or account lockout
  • MULTI-PROTOCOL – Bridge between authentication methods and systems
  • TAP-AND-GO – Just tap YubiKey 5 NFC to NFC-enabled Android, Windows 10 and iOS devices and applications | YubiKey 5 NFC also slips into any standard USB-A port
  • DURABLE – Fiberglass reinforced bodies and military-grade hardened gold protect YubiKey from everyday life | YubiKey 5 NFC features water and crush resistance
  • PORTABLE – Fit YubiKey on a keyring and carry without any worry
  • WORKS – YubiKey 5 Series Works with the most web services


Authentication MethodsPasswordless, Strong Two Factor, Strong Multi-Factor
Productivity & CommunicationGoogle Account, Microsoft account,
Password Managers1Password, Dashlane Premium, Keeper®, LastPass Premium
Cloud StorageDropbox, Google Drive, OneDrive
SocialFacebook, Twitter, YouTube
Design & DurabilityWater Resistant, Crush Resistant, No Batteries Required, No Moving Parts
FunctionWebAuthn, 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
CertificationsFIDO 2 Certified, FIDO Universal 2nd Factor (U2F) Certified
Cryptographic SpecificationsRSA 2048, RSA 4096 (PGP), ECC p256, ECC p384
Device TypeFIDO HID Device, CCID Smart Card, HID Keyboard
ManufacturingMade in the United States and Sweden
YubiKey 5 NFC Specifications

YubiKey 5 NFC For Securing Cryptocurrency

The YubiKey 5 NFC makes securing cryptocurrency exchanges, accounts, and high-value transactions safe and easy. The YubiKey is the strongest way to protect logins, trades, and transfers at the exchange level, increasing user trust and accelerating cryptocurrency adoption.

The old way vs. the new way

The old way

  • Hosted wallets are at risk if the exchange doesn’t support strong authentication
  • Desktop wallets are accessible online and can be phished without strong protection
  • Cold wallets are difficult to use and manage, and require keeping the cryptocurrency offline
  • Paper wallets are not safe, since can easily be destroyed or misplaced

The new way: YubiKey 5 NFC

  • Secures the currency at the exchange level
  • One security key can be used to protect many cryptocurrencies ー there is no limitation as long as the key is supported by the exchange
  • Inconspicuous, a small form factor that doesn’t draw attention
  • A simplicity of use that advances cryptocurrency adoption
  • Coins stay protected at the exchange level, while the secrets stay in the key
  • Zero recorded account takeovers

Easier to use and more secure

How YubiKey 5 NFC helps exchanges and users

For Crypto-Exchanges

  • The highest level of security, to help attract new customers beyond the early adopters
  • Enhances customer retention
  • Increases brand awareness and reputation
  • Secures user and company data
  • Reduces costs of fraud-related losses
  • Increases fungibility of customer assets, leading to higher volume of transactions

For Users

  • Simple, convenient, and secure user authentication
  • Works with more apps and services out of the box than any other security key
  • Affordable backup key
  • No extra hardware or cables required
  • Easy to use – it works with just a tap
  • Eliminates the need for sending cryptocurrency to hardware cold wallet
  • Less expensive than hardware wallets and supports more exchanges
  • Secures trading, buying, and selling with a phishing resistant, hardware-based authentication

Case in point: Major Exchange’s Chooses YubiKey 5 NFC

Cryptocurrency exchanges are becoming commoditized. Traditionally, securing cryptocurrency has been complicated to the average individual.

A major cryptocurrency exchange chose Yubico to help customers secure critical transactions at the exchange level. The Exchange worked with Yubico to subsidize the cost of YubiKeys for their customers and were made available for online purchase.

Customers are now able to shift cryptocurrency security from complicated cold-wallet storage at the coin level to a much simpler, and stronger method at the exchange level. Customers use YubiKeys to secure critical transactions like trades and transfers using YubiKey’s strong yet simple security. The Exchange enjoys increased trust from customers and is attracting new customers who were waiting for cryptocurrency to become more accessible.

Purchase Yubikey 5 NFC Yubico – YubiKey 5 NFC – Two Factor Authentication USB and NFC Security Key, Fits USB-A Ports and Works with Supported NFC Mobile Devices – Protect Your Online Accounts with More Than a Password

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  1. Too Much, Too Soon
    My only real complaints with the YubiKey 5Ci itself are its price and its sticky USB-C plug (which might improve over time). The real trouble is support on iOS devices which, while improving, is still limited. That’s not really Yubico’s fault, but it is frustrating because the USB-C YubiKey costs $20 less. I’d love it if Apple and other developers started to work seriously on expanding support for all kinds of hardware keys. Once that happens, the YubiKey 5Ci will really shine. Until then, our Editors’ Choice badge remains the Security Key by Yubico, which costs a mere $20 and will work in just about anywhere you stick a USB-A plug.

    1. Thanks. My problem is that I prefer to do all my banking, emails etc on my iPhone. I’m trying to master security on my iPhone with the 2 Yubikey 5ci’s that I already spent $140 on but it’s one key for many devices – so I like that feature. It’s installing it and getting used to using it on a regular basic. I’m getting close to diving in this pool.