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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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Security

Work from Home Security

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Spin Master is a leading global children’s entertainment company that invents toys and games, produces dozens of television and studio series that are distributed in 160 countries, and creates a variety of digital games played by more than 30 million children. What was once a small private company founded by childhood friends is now a public global supply chain with over 1,500 employees and 28 offices around the world.

Like most organizations in 2020, Spin Master had to adapt quickly to the new normal of remote work, shifting most of its production from cubicles in regional and head offices to hundreds of employees working from home and other remote locations.

This dramatic shift created potential security risks, as most employees were no longer behind the firewall on the corporate network. Without the implementation of hardened endpoint security, the door would be open for bad actors to infiltrate the organization, acquire intellectual property, and ransom customer information. Additionally, the potential downtime caused by a security breach could harm the global supply chain. With that in mind, Spin Master created a self-imposed 30-day deadline to extend its network protection capabilities to the edge.

Key Findings:

  • Think Long Term: The initial goal of establishing a stop-gap work-from-home (WFH) and work-from-anywhere (WFA) strategy has since morphed into a permanent strategy, requiring long-term solutions.
  • Gather Skills: The real urgency posed by the global pandemic made forging partnerships with providers that could fill all the required skill sets a top priority.
  • Build Momentum: The compressed timeline left no room for delay or error. The Board of Directors threw its support behind the implementation team and gave it broad budget authority to ensure rapid action, while providing active guidance to align strategy with action.
  • Deliver Value: The team established two key requirements that the selected partner must deliver: implementation support and establishing an ongoing managed security operations center (SOC).
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Security

Key Criteria for Evaluating Privileged Access Management

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Privileged Access Management (PAM) enables administrative access to critical IT systems while minimizing the chances of security compromises through monitoring, policy enforcement, and credential management.

A key operating principle of all PAM systems is the separation of user credentials for individual staff members from the system administration credentials they are permitted to use. PAM solutions store and manage all of the privileged credentials, providing system access without requiring users to remember, or even know, the privileged password. Of course, all staff have their own unique user ID and password that they use to complete everyday tasks such as accessing email and writing documents. Users who are permitted to handle system administration tasks that require privileged credentials log into the PAM solution, which provides and controls such access according to predefined security policies. These policies control who is allowed to use which privileged credentials when, where, and for what tasks. An organization’s policy may also require logging and recording of the actions undertaken with the privileged credentials.

Once implemented, PAM will improve your security posture in several ways. The first is by segregating day-to-day duties from duties that require elevated access, reducing the risk of accidental privileged actions. Secondly, automated password management reduces the possibility that credentials will be shared while also lowering the risk if credentials are accidentally exposed. Finally, extensive logging and activity recording in PAM solutions aids audits of critical system access for both preventative and forensic security.

How to Read this Report

This GigaOm report is one of a series of documents that helps IT organizations assess competing solutions in the context of well-defined features and criteria. For a fuller understanding consider reviewing the following reports:

Key Criteria report: A detailed market sector analysis that assesses the impact that key product features and criteria have on top-line solution characteristics—such as scalability, performance, and TCO—that drive purchase decisions.

GigaOm Radar report: A forward-looking analysis that plots the relative value and progression of vendor solutions along multiple axes based on strategy and execution. The Radar report includes a breakdown of each vendor’s offering in the sector.

Vendor Profile: An in-depth vendor analysis that builds on the framework developed in the Key Criteria and Radar reports to assess a company’s engagement within a technology sector. This analysis includes forward-looking guidance around both strategy and product.

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Security

Adventist Risk Management Data Protection Infrastructure

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Companies always want to enhance their ability to quickly address pressing business needs. Toward that end, they look for new ways to make their IT infrastructures more efficient—and more cost effective. Today, those pressing needs often center around data protection and regulatory compliance, which was certainly the case for Adventist Risk Management. What they wanted was an end-to-end, best-in-class solution to meet their needs. After trying several others, they found the perfect combination with HYCU and Nutanix, which provided:

  • Ease of deployment
  • Outstanding ROI
  • Overall TCO improvement

Nutanix Cloud Platform provides a software-defined hyperconverged infrastructure, while HYCU offers purpose-built backup and recovery for Nutanix. Compared to the previous traditional infrastructure and data protection solutions in use at Adventist Risk Management, Nutanix and HYCU simplified processes, speeding day-to-day operations up to 75%. Now, migration and update activities typically scheduled for weekends can be performed during working hours and help to increase IT staff and management quality of life. HYCU further increased savings by providing faster and more frequent points of recovery as well as better DR Recovery Point Objective (RPO) and Recovery Time Objective (RTO) by increasing the ability to do daily backups from one to four per day.

Furthermore, the recent adoption of Nutanix Objects, which provides secure and performant S3 storage capabilities, enhanced the infrastructure by:

    • Improving overall performance for backups
    • Adding security against potential ransomware attacks
    • Replacing components difficult to manage and support

In the end, Nutanix and HYCU enabled their customer to save money, improve the existing environment, and, above all, meet regulatory compliance requirements without any struggle.

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