Yubico will be giving away 25,000 YubiKeys to politicians, journalists, human rights advocates, and other at-risk individuals who are working to promote free speech and defend democratic institutions. The YubiKeys will be distributed through the Microsoft AccountGuard program.
The news builds on the existing relationship between Yubico and AccountGuard. The two parties previously worked together in 2020, when they handed out free YubiKeys to political campaigns ahead of the US elections in November.
Under the expanded program, the partners will be offering the same privileges to political campaigns and other organizations in 31 other countries. The full list includes Finland, Germany, Estonia, the Czech Republic, and the Netherlands, all of which are preparing for their own elections in 2021.
In each case, the goal is to help preserve the integrity of the democratic process and protect people’s civil liberties. Politicians face a high risk of cyberattack, as do the journalists who report on powerful structures and individuals that may not want certain information to become public. The YubiKeys help guard against that, providing vulnerable targets with secure multi-factor identity and access management capabilities.
“The YubiKey is our recommended hardware-based multi-factor authentication solution,” said Microsoft Customer Security and Trust VP Tom Burt. “We’re working with individuals whose security is at risk by sophisticated attackers. Knowing that we can give AccountGuard customers the most advanced form of phishing protection, at no cost, is a tremendous win across the board.”
In addition to politicians and journalists, AccountGuard will hand out free YubiKeys to select healthcare workers and other organizations that handle sensitive personal information. Yubico itself launched a Yubico for Free Speech Program in August, making a commitment to give away one YubiKey to a non-profit organization for every 20 sold. The company has also partnered with USC’s journalism school to teach students about the importance of data security, and provided students with YubiKeys as part of the curriculum.
Yubico recently announced that its passwordless authentication technology is now generally available for Azure AD users. In plain terms, that means that people can now use YubiKeys to log into any Microsoft 365 app, or another app built with the Azure AD platform.