Imagine: you’re in class right before a big exam. It’s five minutes until class starts, and you want to cram every last second with glancing over the study guide that’s been uploaded onto CourseWeb. You open up Pitt Passport—and you’re prompted to input your username and password.
These extra steps of logging in, pulling out your phone, waiting for a Duo Mobile call or popup, responding to the prompt, and then finally logging have been tedious and unavoidable since the two-factor authentication was mandated for the University. But, you can avoid all of this with a simple physical key.
Yubico, a company that manufactures the YubiKey product line, promises a tried and true balance of both security and ease-of-use. The YubiKey is a hardware or physical key that is crush-resistant, waterproof, and is small enough to hang from a keychain or remain in your computer’s USB port.
Depending on which model you buy, the cheapest at $20 and the most expensive at $60, the steps needed to log in are simple: type in your regular username and password, then swipe or tap your finger on the surface of the key. Voilà! You’re now logged in.
Besides the Pitt Portal, you can also use the YubiKey to log into a variety of services, even starting with the initial login to your computer. Online services such as Google, Dropbox, and Amazon allow use of the key, as well as Facebook and Twitter. If you’re a developer, or computer-oriented individual, you can make use of the GitHub and Docker two-factor functionality.
YubiKey is also cross-platform compatible, working on Windows, macOS, and Linux. For those tech-minded people, YubiKey supports several standard protocols such as FIDO2, U2F, OATH, and OpenPGP to name a few.
Finding the right product for your use is easy through the company’s website. You can visit https://www.yubico.com/quiz/ to take a short “quiz” which will recommend the perfect product to suit your needs.
Registering your product to work with Pitt services works the same as when you first registered your phone or other mobile device. To find directions on how to do this if you’ve forgotten, you can visit Pitt’s online guide at https://www.technology.pitt.edu/services/multifactor-authentication-pitt or contact the Helpdesk.
If you’re interested in purchasing a YubiKey, make sure to make use of your student or educator status—the company is currently offering a 20% educational discount on their products.