My Work Day Reflects YubiKey’s Flexibility

March 4, 2015 4 minute read
tray of YubiKeys

I work as a developer at Yubico. Like a lot of developers these days I’m empowered to not only develop software, but to publish it and configure the servers it runs on. This means that I have access to many systems, to which I authenticate using different keys, requiring the flexibility of a YubiKey.

The Key to Henrik’s Day
YubiKey NEO Feature Authentication uses
OTP Salesforce, Yubico Forums, WordPress
U2F Gmail
PGP Signing code changes
SSH (via PGP) Servers
NFC (+ OTP) Unlocking office door
NFC (+TOTP) Facebook, GitHub
Mifare Classic ID (+ code) Unlocking door to office building

I store these keys on my YubiKey NEO, from which they can never leave, and let it do all authentication and signing. This means I am assured no one accesses systems in my name, even if they’ve stolen my laptop or have my passwords.

To make this more concrete, I have documented a regular workday.


Entering the office building

The office building doors are unlocked using plastic fobs. Fobs are identified using their ID (Mifare Classic UID). Since my YubiKey NEO supports Mifare, I use it instead.

The office

A few minutes later I swipe my NEO again to unlock the door to the Yubico Stockholm office. This lock (sold by KEYnTO) is more secure since it uses YubiKey One-Time Passwords.

Reading e-mail

Yubico, like many other companies, uses Google for e-mail, calendar and documents. Google encourages you to use a Security Key (U2F device) to protect your account.


Google’ s U2F Second-Factor Verification

Needless to say (since Yubico is a driving force behind U2F), I use my YubiKey for this as well.

Checking the forum

Yubico’s forum runs PhpBB and uses YubiKey One-Time Passwords as a second factor for authentication.


Checking Facebook during lunch

I’ve configured Facebook to “keep me logged in” on trusted devices. But when I login to Facebook (and Dropbox, GitHub, etc.) from untrusted devices, I’m asked to enter a 6 digit time-based code. To get the code, I just tap my NEO to my phone (the code is transferred using NFC). This has a couple of advantages:

  • The secrets used to generate the codes never leaves my YubiKey, so I don’t have to worry about phone malware or securely wiping the phone when selling it.
  • I’m not tied to a single phone. I can even use a friends phone if mine is out of battery.

Pushing code to Git

Today, I’m working on our developer portal, After a few hours of coding, I’ve got something that I’m ready to publish. I type “git push” in the terminal, enter my YubiKey’s PIN and let it authenticate me to GitHub. My private SSH key never leaves the YubiKey.


Connecting to a server via SSH

My new code isn’t working as expected, so I SSH into the web server hosting to have a look in the logs. Once again, my YubiKey does the authentication.

Signing released software

I spent the afternoon adding some features to our U2F library for Java. In order to publish the release, I have to sign the artifacts using OpenPGP. Luckily, the build system (Maven) has a plugin for this. All I have to do is to type “mvn deploy -P release” and the YubiKey will sign the files using my PGP key.

Things I didn’t do today

I use my YubiKey for even more things. Here are some of the things that I didn’t do today:

  • Logging into Yubico’s website that’s running WordPress, using FIDO U2F.
  • Logging into Yubico’s Salesforce instance, using a YubiKey One-Time Password.
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