YubiKey NEO Can Now Authenticate iOS 11 Applications

YubiKey NEO authenticating the LastPass Password Manager

Yubico, a leading maker of hardware authentication tokens, announced the availability of a new mobile software development kit (SDK) that allows developers to build applications that users can authenticate with an NFC-based YubiKey NEO. The paid versions of the LastPass Password Manager on iOS are the first to support this type of integration.

YubiKey NEO Comes To iPhones

YubiKey NEO, Yubico’s two-factor authentication (2FA) hardware security key that can unlock devices or applications over NFC instead of a USB port or Bluetooth, has been supported by Android since launch.

Unlike Apple, which kept access to its iPhones’ NFC chips to itself, Google enables third-party developers to access the NFC chips in Android devices (with user’s opt-in permission). This has allowed Android users to unlock third-party applications with the YubiKey NEO over NFC for several years.

Starting with iOS 11, Apple has also given developers access to the NFC chip. Yubico’s SDK will allow third-party developers to enable support for hardware security keys such as the YubiKey NEO, which supports sending one-time password (OTP) codes over NFC.

Yubico claimed that using the NEO is four times faster to typing an authentication code, such as those received via SMS or a mobile app such as Google Authenticator. You only have to tap on the NEO in the proximity of your iPhone to authenticate with its 2FA code.

Stina Ehrensvard, Yubico’s CEO and Founder, said:

It’s absolutely critical to have a hardware-based root of trust, like the YubiKey, to establish an approved relationship between a mobile phone and the apps we use. Mobile authentication methods, like SMS or push apps, cannot be considered as trusted second factors to authenticate in a mobile app setting. They can be spoofed by porting a number to a different mobile device or can be very unreliable at the mercy of the phone networks.

LastPass First To Support YubiKey NEO On iOS

LastPass was one of the first to use Yubico’s iOS SDK, so now LastPass users of iOS 11 devices, which includes iPhone 7 and newer models, can authenticate their LastPass Premium, Families, Teams, and Enterprise accounts with the YubiKey NEO.

Yubico encourages other developers to visit its developer site if they want to enable support for YubiKey NEO authentication in their apps, too.

Lucian Armasu
Lucian Armasu is a Contributing Writer for Tom's Hardware US. He covers software news and the issues surrounding privacy and security.