John Fontana

FIDO U2F Ecosystem Coming Alive

Update: New entries added to Enterprise Software list; new section, Governments, added; April 13, 2016

FIDO U2F (Universal 2nd Factor) is, as the name implies, a universal protocol that supports a wide range of modalities and use cases. Many people forget this fact given the current popularity of the USB form factor. But evidence is mounting including biometric, software,  server-side implementations and adoption by relying parties that shows U2F has valuable versatility.

Yubico, as a leading contributor to the U2F specification, has always envisioned that U2F would cover a wide-range of authenticators each taking advantage of the open protocol.

It’s with great excitement we now see this vision becoming a reality. After the public release of the U2F technical specification in early Dec. 2014, we see almost daily reports about new U2F authenticators, clients and servers, including those listed below. There are now dozens of FIDO Certified U2F products available in the market.

And remember, each U2F device is indeed “universal” and works across all implementations while preserving privacy for users and integrity for web application owners. The value of U2F is that a single authenticator works with all U2F-enabled services. We also posted a blog that walks through a side-by-side examination of U2F and one-time passwords (OTP).

Here are some of the ways U2F is growing:

  • Biometrics
    The myris handheld USB biometric iris scanner by Eyelock, which was named a 2015 CES Innovations Awards Honoree, is paving the way for U2F powered biometrics such as fingerprints, voice and facial recognition. Biometric scans prove presence and validate the user without the data ever leaving the device. U2F powers the public key cryptography authentication. Sonavation has released a biometric IDKey, which uses a fingerprint scan and supports U2F.
  • Mobile Apps and Clients (formerly phone-based software implementations)
    Entersekt and Bluink offer mobile software solutions where the phone acts as the U2F authenticator. Google and Android are adding mobile clients. At the 2016 Computer Electronics Show, Yubico demonstrated a software-based U2F mobile client.
  • Chip providers
    Leading chip providers have stepped in, including NXP, Infineon and ST-Microelectronics, offering device manufactures U2F reference designs. ARM, a FIDO board member, supports FIDO in its ARM TrustZone technology-based Trusted Execution Environment.
  • USB devices
    Yubico was the first to offer U2F powered USB authentication keys. YubiKeys are available in different form factors and features, they are available on Amazon, and were named among the top 10 product to watch at CES. NeoWave (France), Happlink (France) and  HyperSecu (Canada) have all introduced U2F devices.
  • NFC & Bluetooth devices
    On June 30, 2015, the FIDO Alliance released extensions to the U2F protocol to support both Bluetooth and Near Field Communication (NFC) transport over U2F.  The YubiKey NEO has earned a FIDO Certified designation for its support of U2F over NFC. Products supporting U2F over Bluetooth are scheduled to appear in 2016 from Yubico and other vendors.
  • Cloud services
    Google has launched wide-spread support for U2F on its platform. In August 2015, Dropbox added support for U2F, and in Oct. 2015 GitHub incorporated U2F strong authentication into its platform.  These roll-outs were significant as the two vendors were the first non-FIDO members to recognize the value of  U2F and offer it to their users. PushCoin, also not a FIDO member, added in early 2015 U2F support to its in-school sales systems that lets kids buy lunches and supplies.
  • Governments
    In early 2016, Gov.UK Verify became the first government service in the world to add support for U2F. GOV.UK Verify uses a host of identity providers, including Digidentity which supports U2F, to validate a citizen’s personal data, store that data, and verify the user is who they say they are when they attempt to access government digital services.
  • Open source servers and applications
    Google and Yubico offer free software libraries, and U2F software and documentation that has received positive feedback from developers worldwide. An open source U2F plug-in for the SAML-based Shibboleth identity federation platform is available on GitHub. In early 2016, WSO2 announced U2F support in its Identity Server. Other applications include a WordPress plugin and a Ruby on Rails U2F implementation (and here). In addition, the open source Gluu Server, an identity and access management suite, now supports U2F.
  • Enterprise software providers
    In addition to open source, there are commercial software packages, including from Duo Security and SurePassID. In early 2016, EgoSecure added U2F support to its Data Protection disk encryption platform. Nok Nok Labs supports U2F in its Multifactor Authentication Server. Entersekt and StrongAuth are playing here and RCDevs is offering U2F support in its commercial and free versions of its OpenOTP Server. Authasas supports U2F in its Advanced Authentication solution for cloud and enterprise. Dashlane added support in early 2016 for U2F in its Dashlane Password Manager.
  • Browsers
    Starting with Chrome, native browser support enables U2F to perform high-security public key cryptography from any computer without installing  client software. A group of Mozilla developers are working with goal to add U2F support in Firefox in the first second half of 2016.
  • Coming next…More cool U2F implementations are on the way this year. Stay tuned by subscribing to our blog feed or follow us on Twitter @yubico. Or on Facebook.

 

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