User Authentication

The Top 6 Hardware Authentication Tools

Explore the top hardware authentication solutions currently on the market. Learn about their key features, such as secure token generation and biometric recognition.

The Top 6 Hardware Authentication Tools Include:
  • 1. Google Titan Security Key
  • 2. Kensington VeriMark
  • 3. Nitrokey
  • 4. Thetis
  • 5. Yubico YubiKey 5 Series
  • 6. Yubico YubiKey Bio Series

In recent years, multi-factor authentication (MFA) has become a central focus of a safe approach to cybersecurity. Nearly every account that a user has (whether for personal or business use) will implement MFA before allowing access.

Passwordless authentication is another feature that has grown in use over recent years. It is impractical to ask a user to remember different, complex passwords for each account, so passwordless authentication simplifies the process. Verification tokens can then be shared with applications and services, granting the user access without having to re-input their credentials.

How do we authenticate if not with a password? An increasingly popular method is hardware authentication tools.

Hardware authentication tools are dedicated physical devices that allow users to authenticate themselves and gain access to their digital services. These hardware devices can take different forms, from USB keys to devices that can scan biometric information such as face scans or fingerprint scans.

Hardware authentication technology is substantially more secure than passwords or secret questions. Passwords can be stolen, guessed, or shared. Secret questions can be researched – the name of your first pet is something that could well be on your social media profiles, for example. Hardware authentication tools, on the other hand, must be physically present when you log in. This means that the attacker would have to physically steal the device and then successfully log in – which is much more difficult than simply guessing your password.

Authentication has become a central focus in the identity and access management (IAM) space. In this article, we’ve listed the best hardware authentication tools on the market today. In each listing, we’ll cover the background of the device as well as some key features to help you decide which solution is best suited to your organization.

Get personalized User Authentication quotes from the best providers for you. Get Quotes
Google Cloud Logo

Titan Security Keys offer a robust layer of security for high-value users seeking to safeguard their account information. These keys feature Google-developed firmware with can verify a user’s identity and the login page’s URL. This additional layer of security helps to reduce account breaches. These security keys are also compatible with a growing selection of apps and services that adhere to FIDO standards, providing users with a versatile tool for safeguarding their information across various platforms.

These hardware keys are designed to resist physical attempts to extract firmware and secret key material. Titan offer multiple iterations of the key, with USB-A/NFC and USB-C/NFC, ensuring device compatibility and ease of use. This technology is now an inbuilt feature of the Pixel 3 phones, making this level of security achievable seamlessly. Titan Security Keys are a crucial component in Google’s Advanced Protection Program; this aims to provide heightened security for both personal and work Google accounts, particularly for individuals who may be at an elevated risk of being targeted in cyber-attacks.

Google Cloud Logo
Kensington Logo

The Kensington VeriMark Fingerprint Key acts as an intuitive method of a verifying identity and granting account access. This fingerprint security key is compatible with Windows Hello and supports FIDO universal 2nd-factor authentication (U2F). The VeriMark Fingerprint Key is designed to guard against unauthorized device access, enhancing cybersecurity in a cloud-centric environment. The Kensington VeriMark is designed to meet the dual requirements associated with ease-of-use and security. This makes it an effective asset to your digital security setup.

The installation process of VeriMark is designed to be user-friendly, with the driver typically installing automatically upon connection to a USB-A port on your computer. In cases where the automatic installation does not occur, users have the option to manually install the driver to ensure the proper functioning of the VeriMark Fingerprint Key.

Kensington Logo
Nitrokey Logo

Nitrokey, a German-based company primarily operating from Berlin, offers a range of security solutions aimed at safeguarding digital assets. The Nitrokey product line is built on open-source hardware and software, which allows for independent security assessments and avoids vendor lock-in. For email safety, it supports encryption through various platforms including GnuPG and S/MIME, securely housing secret keys within the Nitrokey device. Additionally, the device facilitates secure logins to websites and network services by generating One Time Passwords (OTP) or utilizing authentication certificates. The device promises a robust defense against a variety of threats including phishing, malware, and brute-force attacks by storing secret keys in a tamper-resistant and PIN-protected environment.

Nitrokey offers encrypted mobile storage options with capacities ranging from 16 to 64 GB, compatible with Windows, Linux, and Mac OS. For enhanced security during server administration tasks, it utilizes Secure Shell (SSH), providing a two-factor authentication system, thereby eliminating the need for complex password memorization or key file synchronization. Nitrokey ensures the protection of server certificates by allowing the use of up to 300 cryptographic keys with the Nitrokey HSM, making it a suitable tool for security servers and Certificate Authorities. Nitrokey aims to provide a versatile and secure solution to meet individual and organizational security needs.

Nitrokey Logo
Thetis Logo

The Thetis hardware authentication device is secured with FIDO U2F and FIDO2 protocols, including W3C’s Web Authentication (WebAuthn) and FIDO’s Client-to-Authenticator Protocol (CTAP). These protocols work seamlessly to facilitate a robust (256-character) encryption system, essentially acting as a second step in safeguarding against unauthorized account access. Thetis have developed a solution with ease of use at the heart, without compromising on security features. The key does not store or read any information from your computer or online accounts, limiting its memory storage to the locally generated paired public and private keys.

The key itself has a durable construction that uses an aluminium alloy that withstands drops, bumps, and scratches. It offers a user-friendly design, characterized by an easy-click button and a functioning indicator light, making the login process simple. It’s designed for convenience, allowing you to attach it to your keychain without hassle. The key also integrates ECDSA with a P-256 element, which maintains a high level of security even with a basic password.

Thetis Logo
Yubico Logo

The YubiKey 5 Series is a hardware-based authentication solution designed to enhance security in both legacy and modern digital environments. As Yubico are the principal inventor of the FIDO2/WebAuthn and U2F authentication standards, their YubiKey 5 Series is built on the highest security standards. It provides robust authentication options, including passwordless login, strong two-factor authentication, and multi-factor authentication combining a PIN with other authentication methods. Notably, it supports various protocols such as FIDO2, U2F, Smart Card, OTP, and OpenPGP 3, facilitating compatibility with a range of systems.

This product range offers different form factors, including options for USB-A, USB-C, NFC, and Lightning connections. This broad selection means that there is a solution to suit all types of organizations and ways of working. The key is also designed to withstand physical damage, being IP68 rated and crush-resistant, with no batteries required for operation. These keys can be conveniently carried on a keyring or left in a USB port, ensuring that enhanced security is always within arm’s reach. Yubico’s YubiKey 5 Series effectively reduces the vulnerabilities associated with weak or stolen passwords, which account for a significant portion of security breaches.

Yubico Logo
Yubico Logo

Yubico, Key players in the development of FIDO2/WebAuthn, have developed a comprehensive range of security keys to empower logins securely and swiftly. Yubico offers two variations of their Bio security keys: the YubiKey Bio – FIDO Edition and the YubiKey C Bio – FIDO Edition. These keys are configured to support both biometric and PIN-based login mechanisms, catering to various multi-factor authentication needs as per the FIDO2 and WebAuthn standard specifications. They have both been designed to function across numerous operating systems and browsers, offering versatility in user applications.

One of the distinguishing features of the YubiKey Bio Series is the incorporation of a secure element that safeguards biometric fingerprint templates from potential physical attacks. This ensures an added layer of security, particularly during shared workstation settings where a rapid and secure task switching is vital for enhancing productivity and efficiency. The YubiKey Bio Series does not require batteries, drivers, or additional associated software, promoting ease of deployment and integration with existing FIDO2/WebAuthn-enabled services.

Yubico Logo
Compare quotes from leading User Authentication software suppliers and save.
Does your organization already use User Authentication Software?
It takes less than 30 seconds
The Top Hardware Authentication Tools