Apple’s NFC Update Enables YubiKey Authentication

“… YubiKey 5 NFC and Security Key NFC solutions can now be used with iPhone models 7 or later running on iOS 13.”

Apple's NFC Update Enables YubiKey Authentication

Yubico’s NFC-enabled security keys can now be used for contactless authentication with newer iPhones.

The change was announced alongside Apple’s big product launches last week, with the company opening up somewhat from its usual closed-ecosystem attitude. Previously, Apple’s iOS mobile operating system supported NFC communications on a read-only basis; but now, it supports the read-and-write capabilities that are required for advanced authentication protocols like FIDO2 and FIDO U2F. The end result for Yubico, as the company notes in a new post on its website, is that its YubiKey 5 NFC and Security Key NFC solutions can now be used with iPhone models 7 or later running on iOS 13.

The news comes soon after Yubico’s launch of its YubiKey 5Ci, a security key featuring the Lightning connector used in iOS and MacOS devices, as well as a USB-C connector allowing it to hook up with Android and Windows devices. The YubiKey 5Ci was a breakthrough device in terms of bringing security key technology to the Apple ecosystem; and in the wake of Apple’s new NFC support, the device could still prove essential for security-conscious users of older iPhone and iPad models.

But to better reflect the current state of affairs now that Apple has enabled support for NFC security keys, Yubico says it is developing a new YubiKey 5C NFC device that will once again feature a USB-C connector, but will rely on NFC technology to connect with Apple devices, eschewing a Lightning connector. The device is slated for launch this winter.

Meanwhile, Yubico is also developing a new Yubico Authenticator app, which will be able to retrieve a six-digit, time-based code for two-factor authentication from connected YubiKey devices. This app will become available on iOS “in the coming months,” Yubico says.