If you’re relying on passwords – especially ones that you reuse – you’re something of an easy target for hackers. Data breaches are just a fact of internet life, and while password managers can help a fair bit, two-factor authentication (2FA) can make all the difference.
This can be done with just your phone, although it’s not quite a perfect solution, as your mobile could be stolen or your phone number could be spoofed. A better solution is a USB security stick: if you can’t prove that you’re you with a USB stick proving your credentials, you’re not getting in. Think of it as like keys for your house or car.
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Support for this has already been picked up by Firefox and Chrome, and now Apple’s Safari browser is belatedly joining the security party. The latest preview build features support for the WebAuthentication API that lets people log in using a USB-based CTAP2 stick.
Of course as this is just a preview build, it’s possible it may never see the light of day in the form of a final release – but given Firefox and Chrome already offer it, you’d be surprised if Apple decided against releasing it now the work has been done. There’s a certain amount of keeping up with the Joneses going on here.
Although USB security makes you far less liable to be phished or have your account compromised by hackers, they’re not completely problem free. Not only do you have to carry an extra thing with you wherever you go, but if you lose it or it breaks then you’re in real trouble. Not to mention the fact that not all MacBooks have the same type of USB port.
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Still, if that doesn’t put you off and you’re a dedicated Safari user, you can download Preview release 71 here.
Do you think that USB security keys are overkill or a necessity for safe internet use? Let us know what you think on Twitter @TrustedReviews.