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Thursday, 24 February 2022 11:31

iTWireTV Interview: Yubico's Geoff Schomburgk talks the myths of mobile authentication, hybrid work, biometric keys and more!


GUEST INTERVIEW: With passwords and traditional two-factor authentication no longer as secure as it once was, Yubico's evolving YubiKeys have been the next-gen answer, with the new YubiKey Bio now another step above in delivering an ever more secure environment, Geoff Schomburgk joined us again at iTWireTV to explain this and plenty more.

Yubico. Right on the home page, Yubico helps "Protect the digital you". The company bills itself as "Inventors of strong authentication for the modern web, enabling one security key to protect any number of services with a simple touch," with the YubiKey being "The only authentication technology proven to stop account takeovers at scale," and "Loved by the world’s largest brands and millions of users."

I've personally been using some YubiKey 5 series models for quite a while to protect my Gmail account, and while I've left some backup authentication methods on, I haven't had to use any of those backup methods since Yubikeys entered my life. You still need to enter your username and password when setting up Gmail on a new device, and you're asked to plug the key in, tap the gold contacts, and you're in.

Of course, there's the NFC-enabled YubiKey in either USB-A or USB-C configurations, and the new YubiKey Bio, which is hardware-based biometric authentication with "a new user experience," showing how Yubikeys have continued evolving into the widest range of products yet, and with support for hundreds of products, services, and applications that work with YubiKey, Yubico has transformed itself into a security powerhouse while transforming the security of its customers and their customers.

Just as bad actors are constantly evolving, so too is the security community, whose products and services work ever more smoothly together to proactively defend the security landscape as much as possible, as those bad actors are certainly very active, with zero-days discovered on a regular basis, password and other databases breached and leaked, with account takeovers and phishing emails still arriving in inboxes, while virus-laden SMS messages pester us nowadays, too.

The security battle is ongoing and never-ending, but there are steps you can take to harden your security, from using a paid password manager to cloud and physical backups, from Internet-security software with anti-virus, anti-malware and anti-ransomware, using a VPN, always ensuring your smartphone, tablet, PC, Mac, smart TV, smart device, browser, and other software is up-to-date.

Updates are supposed to be automatic, but check your devices - an update is likely awaiting you on at least one of those devices - so it's always good to check, and to not delay updates to operating systems, as they usually contain security fixes that close zero-day vulnerabilities that leave you vulnerable until you update.

A YubiKey can't protect your OS from zero-days, nor make sure your operating systems and devices are updated, nor whether your backup has completed or if it can be successfully restored, but it can protect your login and account from being compromised for a wide range of the aforementioned products, services and applications, and given that is one huge way that bad actors get into systems via compromised user credentials, having a physical security key is certainly essential for business users - but home users can definitely use them too, and enjoy the same protections.

You can also read Yubico’s top information security recommendations for 2022 at its blog, which is great information for enterprise, companies and organisations of all sizes. Yubico's great blog is here, too, which is where that security article is located. 

In the video interview below, we also talk about another article from the blog, titled "A Day in the Life: Dispelling the Myths of Mobile Authentication," which explains why traditional methods of 2FA aren't as secure as they once were, and how they are being hacked.

So, with that bit of commentary from me above, and some links to Yubico content, let's take a look at my video interview with Geoff Schomburgk which discusses this and more, with Geoff recently promoted to Regional Vice President, Asia Pacific & Japan (APJ), which is embedded immediately below, after which is a summary of the topics we spoke about.

Here's a summary of the topics we spoke about:

  • I started by introducing Geoff, welcoming him back to iTWireTV and congratulating him on his recent promotion. Geoff then shared what Yubico has been up to in the first weeks of 2022, and how the new Yubikey Bio has been received by existing users wanting to upgrade, and new users too.

  • We then spoke about the myths of mobile authentication, which I explain many people would associate with an app on your phone that generates a code you need to type in as part of the log in process, which Yubico is calling legacy MFA.

  • Geoff explained the dangers associated with mobile authentication as opposed to a hardware key, with SMS and One Time Password methods of authentication just aren't secure enough anymore, with mobile authentication apps an issue, too. We also looked at how many businesses in Australia are still using legacy MFA.

  • I then wanted to know if there was an average timeframe for an organisation to deploy Yubikeys to employees, noting of course that it depends on the organisation, and whether Yubico helps with security audits, and how Yubico responds when a company approaches the company for help.

  • We talked about the delayed Tech in Gov conference that was meant to take place in early February, but which was postponed due to Omicron, with Yubico set to have both a stand and for Geoff to be a speaker at the conference, and Geoff confirmed Yubico will be at Tech in Gov when it returns in May and that they'll have both a stand and will be presenting.

  • Geoff then shared any interesting Australian or global customer success stories of note from recent times that really stood out, after which Geoff shared his thoughts on Yubico's evolution over the next couple of years, and what authentication methods might be like in the future, and whether this might involve biometric identification via brainwaves or some other new biometric method, or whether it was all top secret.

  • Geoff then shared his final message to iTWireTV viewers and iTWire readers, and to Yubico's current and future customers.

So, please watch the video interview with Geoff Schomburgk above to learn more!

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Alex Zaharov-Reutt

Alex Zaharov-Reutt is iTWire's Technology Editor is one of Australia’s best-known technology journalists and consumer tech experts, Alex has appeared in his capacity as technology expert on all of Australia’s free-to-air and pay TV networks on all the major news and current affairs programs, on commercial and public radio, and technology, lifestyle and reality TV shows. Visit Alex at Twitter here.

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