Are you sick and tired of using Google Authenticator and feeding the big tech behemoth with even more data? What about handing over your email address and phone number to another 2FA app that promises to take care of your precious logins?
I never used the Google Authenticator but I had to rely on an app that was providing me with those sweet time-based 6-digit codes to be able to login on certain websites. I did that until a few weeks ago when I came across a great app with strong hardware-backed security.
I’ve been using the multi-protocol YubiKey hardware authentication device to login to certain accounts for a few years now. More specifically I’ve been using the 5th series that is the YubiKey 5 NFC to securely access online accounts on desktop and mobile.
However, I always had issues using this hardware 2FA device to access certain accounts that only let you authenticate with an app. I relied on the authenticator app Authy to be able to more or less secure these other accounts. If you’re a bit concerned about your privacy like I am, you know that giving away your phone number (hint: SIM card) for an authentication app isn’t a dream.
This is when I discovered the Yubico app from the producers of YubiKey.
AND here’s what I love about this app:
- You don’t need a phone number or email address to use the app.
- The keys are tied to your hardware device not an app on your mobile phone or on your desktop environment.
- It works seamlessly across devices. You simply install the app on the device you want to use and plug in your YubiKey or you hold it briefly to the device if it has NFC capabilities.
- It has a pretty neat cross-platform coverage and it woks on Linux too (YAY!). Yes, you can use it on Mac, Windows, Android and iOS.
Is the Yubico App Reliable?
I transferred all my accounts to the Yubico app and it works like a breeze. I’ve been using it on two desktop environments – one running the Linux distribution Ubuntu 21.10 and the other one an older macOS version, High Sierra to be more specific.
On mobile I’ve been using it on a de-googled phone running LineageOS. You can download the APK on F-Droid or GitHub.
WARNING for Linux Ubuntu users
I’ve seen people complain about the app only running once or freezing. If you downloaded the app from the Snap store and you encounter a similar issue I suggest you download the AppImage from the official Yubico website and install that one.
I personally never had any issues whatsoever. Quite the opposite is true for me: I absolutely love the fact that I can plug in and play with the YubiKey seamlessly across all these different devices without being required a SIM card or some other personal data.
If this sounds cool to you, check it out. I’ve added some resources below. All links take you to the official websites.
I’m not an affiliate of these products and the links below are no referral links. I find both the YubiKey and the Yubico 2 FA app really handy and wanted you to know about them.
I’d like to leave you with a couple of BEST PRACTICES.
#1. When you’re going through the setup process, install everything on 2 different YubiKeys at the same time and additionally write down or print out the recovery codes on a sheet of paper if things go array.
Say you lose one of your YubiKeys or it breaks, you can immediately use the other one. If things really go sideways and you lose both keys, you purchase a new device and populate it with the recovery codes from the good old sheet of paper you have stored somewhere safe.
#2. Install the Yubico app on two separate devices, better yet, two different environments: one being a laptop and the other your mobile phone, or two laptops with different operating systems. If one has issues, you can immediately jump on board and use the other one.
The above will ensure you encounter little to no friction in the process of using this two-factor authentication app.
Are you using the YubiKey or the Yubico app?
Yubico app: https://www.yubico.com/products/yubico-authenticator/
Yubico on GitHub: https://github.com/Yubico
Originally published on my blog at Hive.