A new version of Google's secret weapon for protecting its employees from getting hacked is coming out for iPhones

  • If you don’t want to get phished, you should set up your email and other accounts with a security key.
  • Thanks to security keys, none of Google’s 85,000 employees have had their work accounts taken over in a year.
  • Yubico is working on a security key that plugs directly into an iPhone.

In the past few years, security experts have essentially figured out a way to drastically reduce phishing from fake emails or websites, one of the most common ways that people’s data and accounts get hacked.

It relies on one little gadget that usually costs around $US20 or $US30: A security key. In fact, thanks to security keys, none of Google’s 85,000 employees have had their work accounts taken over in a year.

When you log into a properly configured account with a security key, it requires you to plug it in or pair the key in order to access your data – preventing phishers and other bad actors from fooling you into giving up your user name and password.

These keys previously usually plugged into a USB port, making them difficult to use with a smartphone, especially iPhones, which only have Apple’s proprietary Lightning ports.

Now, Yubico, the company which made the keys that Google used, is coming out with a security key specifically for iPhones and newer laptops and phones with USB-C chargers.

“By supporting the two most common connectors for Mac and iPhones, the new YubiKey for Lightning device is designed to provide seamless authentication across compatible desktop and mobile devices,” the company said in a statement.

Unfortunately, you can’t buy the new YubiKey for Lightning yet. It’s in “private preview” and it’s not for sale. Instead, YubiKey is working with developers and services to build it into iPhone software so that the key works with your favourite apps when it eventually goes on sale. Developers can apply for that program here.

But despite the fact that this key doesn’t have a price or release date yet, it does suggest that serious hardware security is headed to iPhones sooner rather than later.

Lightning YubiKeyYubico

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