As online user accounts become more powerful and prevalent, it is important to keep your accounts secure.
Many online platforms now offer two-step verification, making it harder for attackers to gain unauthorised account access.
One form of two-factor authentication is a Universal 2nd Factor (U2F) security key, which is a physical key used to unlock your online accounts.
In order to use a hardware key for authentication, you will need to ensure it complies with the open U2F standard from the FIDO Alliance.
These keys are used to authenticate your account by connecting to your device using a USB connection or NFC.
It is important to note that you can still access your account without a key, you will just need to use your previous form of authentication.
FIDO U2F keys are available for below R500 for a device that supports both USB and NFC connectivity.
You can use a FIDO-compliant key to unlock your account by inserting it into your PC’s USB port and pressing the button, or tapping it on an NFC reader.
U2F keys are currently only supported by the latest versions of Opera and Google Chrome.
The keys can also be used with smartphones, depending on their communications features.
A brief explanation of how to set up FIDO U2F authentication on a number of popular platforms is detailed below.
To add a security key to your Google account, navigate to Sign-In Settings under the My Account menu.
Ensure your security key is not connected to your device and click Register, then insert your key into a USB port.
If your security key has a button, press it and it should register as connected to your Google account.
When logging into Google from Chrome or Opera, you will not be prompted to insert your security key after entering your login details.
To set up your security key for Facebook, navigate to the Settings menu and select Security.
In the Security menu, navigate to the Login Approvals page, which lists your current authentication methods and allows you to add new ones.
Click the Add Key option and connect your security key to your device when prompted.
Ensure that you have two-factor authentication enabled in your settings in order to activate the security key protection.
To activate your security key for Dropbox, navigate to the Security page under Settings and enable two-factor authentication.
Before adding your security key, you will need to set up a backup authentication method, such as SMS or Google Authenticator.
After this is done, you can add a security key by clicking on the appropriate option and following the prompts.
GitHub’s two-factor authentication functions similarly to Dropbox, and will require you to set up a backup authentication method before adding a security key.
In the Security menu, navigate to the two-factor authentication page and click the Register New Device option under Security Keys.
After deciding on a nickname for your security key, follow the prompts to connect your key to your GitHub account.