Yubico has officially launched its first, highly-anticipated biometric security keys.
Comprising the “YubiKey Bio Series”, the USB-A and USB-C security keys each feature a built-in fingerprint sensor enabling biometric authentication on desktop computers. The YubiKey Bio keys are compliant with the FIDO2/WebAuthn and U2F protocols, and do not require any batteries, drivers, or specialized software that must be purchased separately.
The new YubiKey Bio offerings can be understood as the next stage in the evolution of second-factor authentication keys. Standard 2FA security keys offer users an important additional authentication factor by allowing them to plug them into a computer in order to prove that they are physically present at that particular device during an authentication process. (NFC security keys can also be used to demonstrate presence via contactless proximity.) Biometric capabilities add another layer to the authentication session, ensuring that a stolen key cannot be used by an individual who doesn’t have the correct biometric credentials.
“With the launch of the YubiKey Bio Series, we are proud to raise the standard for biometric security keys, enabling simple and strong passwordless authentication for our enterprise customers and everyday YubiKey users,” said Yubico co-founder and CEO Stina Ehrensvärd.
Yubico first unveiled its planned Yubico Bio biometric security key back in the autumn of 2019, at the Microsoft Ignite tech conference. A year later, the company revealed that the YubiKey Bio had gone into a private preview phase, stoking excitement about the possibilities of biometrics-backed 2FA security key devices.
Now, the official launch of the Yubico Bio Series has the company’s partners and analysts in the authentication security space talking. In a statement, Enterprise Management Associates Research Director Steve Brasen explained that his firm’s research “indicates that reductions in end user access friction result in dramatic increases in security effectiveness.,” adding that the YubiKey Bio Series “achieves both goals simultaneously to help organizations achieve a Zero Trust posture while enhancing the user experience.”
Meanwhile, the Partner Director of Product Management in Microsoft’s Identity & Network Access Division, Sue Bohn, attested that “Yubico carefully considered customer needs in designing the biometric key to make it secure and simple enough for anyone to use,” and asserted that a “FIDO2 YubiKey with a biometric sensor is a cause for celebration.”
The YubiKey Bio Series security keys are now available through the Yubico website, with the USB-A option retailing for $80 and the USB-C form factor priced at $85.