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YubiKey: Protect your Facebook, Google, and other online accounts with this hardware authentication key

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This USB thumb drive is one serious and secure business tool

Looking for a quick, easy, and affordable way to protect your Google account, Facebook, GitHub, Dropbox, Salesforce admin account (and much more)? Or maybe you’re looking for a way to harden your Mac or Windows login credentials.

Take a look at the YubiKey.

Must read: The gadgets and apps I used to lose over 130 pounds and get fit and healthyhttps://www.zdnet.com/pictures/best-raspberry-pi-alternatives-starting-at-only-5/

YubiKey is a small authentication key manufactured by Yubico that can be used to secure access to a wide range of applications, including remote access and VPN, password managers, computer login, FIDO U2F login (Gmail, GitHub, Dropbox, etc.) content management systems, popular online services, and much more.

YubiKey gives you a way to activate two-factor authentication on your accounts, but without having to mess about with text messages or third-party authenticator apps. You just plug the YubiKey into a USB port, tap the metal button, and you’re authenticated. You still need the correct username and password, but the key gives you the second-step authentication and added security.

The wide range of support makes YubiKey a great choice for personal use, business, enterprise, or even developers.

Also: VPN services 2018: The ultimate guide to protecting your data on the internet

Physically, the YubiKey looks like a small USB flash drive (with different versions for USB-A and USB-C), and there is a version that also incorporates NFC. The keys range in price from $20 for the basic FIDO U2F key (which will work with online services that support FIDO U2F, including Facebook and Google), to $50 for keys that also feature strong crypto, touch-to-sign, plus one-time-password, NFC, and smart card capability.

The keys are robust, and seem to live up to the promise of being waterproof and crushproof — I’ve had one on my keys and another on a chain around my neck for more than a year now, and while both look well worn, they both work fine. The one I wear around my neck (the one in the center in the image below, flanked by a new YubiKey Security Key on the left, and a new NFC-enabled YubiKey NEO on the right) has had a very hard life — prolonged exposure to sunlight, sweat, seawater, mud, oil, and chemicals such as sunblock — and yet still cleans up well and works perfectly.

The YubiKey in the center has seen over a year of regular use

A chart detailing the available keys along with their specific functionality can be found here.

Now, rather than outlining how you protect your accounts with YubiKey (the instructions on the Yubico website are detailed and will guide you through the myriad different services you can secure with your YubiKey more efficiently than I can) I’m going to look at the pros and cons of that I’ve come across over the past months.

Pros:

  • Cheap (with prices starting at $20)
  • Far less hassle than using text messages or a third-party authenticator app, and speeds up logging into accounts on new devices
  • The keys don’t require recharging or battery changes
  • Without your username and password, even if it is stolen, it’s useless to a third-party
  • Easy to use (if you can figure out two-factor authentication, you can figure out how to use YubiKeys, and if you get stuck, there are some good instructions available to guide you)
  • Keys are incredibly robust and totally waterproof (one of mine lives on my keyring and gets bashed about a lot, the other I wear around my neck on a chain most of the time)
  • Pretty indistinguishable from USB flash drives so the keys don’t attract unwanted attention
  • Scalable (customization tools and custom programming options available for business)
  • Support for Open PGP encryption and code signing
  • Offers an easy way to secure Windows, Mac, or Linux systems

Cons:

  • Ideally, you need two keys in case one gets lost, stolen, or damaged in some way.
  • Not all browsers support U2F so you must be running Google Chrome version 38 or later, or Opera version 40 or later (this is not a YubiKey limitation, but rather a FIDO U2F limitation)
  • There are big gaps in services that support FIDO U2F (for example, no support for Yahoo!, PayPal, banks, and so on — come on folks, get your act together!)
  • Some of the documentation can be a little intimidating at first

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Phish Fight: Securing Enterprise Communications

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Yes, much of the world may have moved on from email to social media and culturally dubious TikTok dances, yet traditional electronic mail remains a foundation of business communication. And sadly, it remains a prime vector for malware, data leakage, and phishing attacks that can undermine enterprise protections. It doesn’t have to be that way.

In a just released report titled “GigaOm Radar for Phishing Prevention and Detection,” GigaOm Analyst Simon Gibson surveyed more than a dozen enterprise-focused email security solutions. He found a range of approaches to securing communications that often can be fitted together to provide critical, defense-in-depth protection against even determined attackers.

Figure 1. GigaOm Radar for Email Phishing Prevention and Detection

“When evaluating these vendors and their solutions, it is important to consider your own business and workflow,” Gibson writes in the report, stressing the need to deploy solutions that best address your organization’s business workflow and email traffic. “For some it may be preferable to settle on one comprehensive solution, while for others building a best-of-breed architecture from multiple vendors may be preferable.”

In a field of competent solutions, Gibson found that Forcepoint, purchased recently by Raytheon, stood apart thanks to the layered protections provided by its Advanced Classification Engine. Area 1 and Zimperium, meanwhile, are both leaders that exhibit significant momentum, with Area 1 boosted by its recent solution partnership with Virtru, and Zimperium excelling in its deep commitment to mobile message security.

A mobile focus is timely, Gibson says in a video interview for GigaOm. He says companies are “tuning the spigot on” and enabling unprecedented access and reliance on mobile devices, which is creating an urgent need to get ahead of threats.

Gibson’s conclusion in the report? He singles out three things: Defense in depth, awareness of existing patterns and infrastructure, and a healthy respect for the “human factor” that can make security so hard to lock down.

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When Is a DevSecOps Vendor Not a DevSecOps Vendor?

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DevOps’ general aim is to enable a more efficient process for producing software and technology solutions and bringing stakeholders together to speed up delivery. But we know from experience that this inherently creative, outcome-driven approach often forgets about one thing until too late in the process—security. Too often, security is brought into the timeline just before deployment, risking last minute headaches and major delays. The security team is pushed into being the Greek chorus of the process, “ruining everyone’s fun” by demanding changes and slowing things down.

But as we know, in the complex, multi-cloud and containerized environment we find ourselves in, security is becoming more important and challenging than ever. And the costs of security failure are not only measured in slower deployment, but in compliance breaches and reputational damage.

The term “DevSecOps” has been coined to characterize how security needs to be at the heart of the DevOps process. This is in part principle and part tools. As a principle, DevSecOps fits with the concept of “shifting left,” that is, ensuring that security is treated as early as possible in the development process. So far, so simple.

From a tooling perspective, however, things get more complicated, not least because the market has seen a number of platforms marketing themselves as DevSecOps. As we have been writing our Key Criteria report on the subject, we have learned that not all DevSecOps vendors are necessarily DevSecOps vendors. Specifically, we have learned to distinguish capabilities that directly enable the goals of DevSecOps from a process perspective, from those designed to support DevSecOps practices. We could define them as: “Those that do, and those that help.”

This is how to tell the two types of vendor apart and how to use them.

Vendors Enabling DevSecOps: “Tools That Do”

A number of tools work to facilitate the DevSecOps process -– let’s bite the bullet and call them DevSecOps tools. They help teams set out each stage of software development, bringing siloed teams together behind a unified vision that allows fast, high-quality development, with security considerations at its core. DevSecOps tools work across the development process, for example:

  • Create: Help to set and implement policy
  • Develop: Apply guidance to the process and aid its implementation
  • Test: Facilitate and guide security testing procedures
  • Deploy: Provide reports to assure confidence to deploy the application

The key element that sets these tool sets apart is the ability to automate and reduce friction within the development process. They will prompt action, stop a team from moving from one stage to another if the process has not adequately addressed security concerns, and guide the roadmap for the development from start to finish.

Supporting DevSecOps: “Tools That Help”

In this category we place those tools which aid the execution, and monitoring, of good DevSecOps principles. Security scanning and application/infrastructure hardening tools are a key element of these processes: Software composition analysis (SCA) forms a part of the development stage, static/dynamic application security testing (SAST/DAST) is integral to the test stage and runtime app protection (RASP) is a key to the Deploy stage.

Tools like this are a vital part of the security layer of security tooling, especially just before deployment – and they often come with APIs so they can be plugged into the CI/CD process. However, while these capabilities are very important to DevSecOps, they can be seen in more of a supporting role, rather than being DevSecOps tools per se.

DevSecOps-washing is not a good idea for the enterprise

While one might argue that security should never have been shifted right, DevSecOps exists to ensure that security best practices take place across the development lifecycle. A corollary exists to the idea of “tools that help,” namely that organizations implementing these tools are not “doing DevSecOps,” any more than vendors providing these tools are DevSecOps vendors.

The only way to “do” DevSecOps is to fully embrace security at a process management and governance level: This means assessing risk, defining policy, setting review gates, and disallowing progress for insecure deliverables. Organizations that embrace DevSecOps can get help from what we are calling DevSecOps tools, as well as from scanning and hardening tools that help support its goals.

At the end of the day, all security and governance boils down to risk: If you buy a scanning tool so you can check a box that says “DevSecOps,” you are potentially adding to your risk posture, rather than mitigating it. So, get your DevSecOps strategy fixed first, then consider how you can add automation, visibility, and control using “tools that do,” as well as benefit from “tools that help.”

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High Performance Application Security Testing

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This free 1-hour webinar from GigaOm Research. It is hosted by an expert in Application and API testing, and GigaOm analyst, Jake Dolezal. His presentation will focus on the results of high performance testing we completed against two security mechanisms: ModSecurity on NGINX and NGINX App Protect. Additionally, we tested the AWS Web Application Firewall (WAF) as a fully managed security offering.

While performance is important, it is only one criterion for a Web Application Firewall selection. The results of the report are revealing about these platforms. The methodology will be shown with clarity and transparency on how you might replicate these tests to mimic your own workloads and requirements.

Register now to join GigaOm and sponsor NGINX for this free expert webinar.

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