Gone are the days when you could just rely on the passwords for your device security. With the advancement in cybercrimes and the user’s reluctancy to create a secure password, cracking the passwords and hacking any device is not a big deal for the web criminals.
The USB Security Key can be the ultimate solution for the people who are very concerned about their devices’ security. Also, you do not have to rely just on passwords anymore.
In this guide, we would discuss what a USB security key is and how to convert your regular USB drive into a device unlocker.
What is a USB Security Key?
The USB Security key or the physical security key is the advanced method of login authentication. This USB key can be used for locking and unlocking the PC and is a part of two-factor authentication. Obviously, it would be quite difficult for hackers to get their hands on the tangible key.
You can get such a physical security key from the manufacturer like Yubikey, Google, and Thetis. However, they are costly.
The cheaper alternative is creating your own USB login key. However, for that, you have to compromise one of your USB drives or get an affordable Pendrive specifically for this purpose.
Pros and Cons of the Physical Security Key
Every coin has two sides. Likewise, security keys also have two sides, positive and negative. Let us list them out.
- A USB security would provide an extra layer of protection to your device by forming a two-factor authentication.
- Cybercriminals can hack your using several ways. Also, after exposure, a password is useless. On the other hand, USB keys are almost impossible to hack, and the hacker has to steal the key to get through your system, which is quite unlikely because usually, hackers work only online.
- You already have to memorize several passwords of your different accounts, getting a physical lock key would reduce some strain, and you can lock/unlock your computer hassle-free.
- If you damage or lose the physical key, the recovery is possible but by a long and lethargic process.
- If you want to allow access to your system to someone else, you have to provide them with your key physically. That becomes impossible if you are far away.
- The USB security key would permanently occupy a USB port, which means you would lose one of your USB ports forever.
So, these are the Pros and Cons of the Physical Security key. Weigh them keeping your preference in mind and then choose whether to go for it or not.
How to create a USB Security Key on Windows 10?
You can create a USB security key on Windows 10 using an in-built program – Windows BitLocker. However, this method would only work for Pro and Enterprise versions of Windows as the Home version does not come with BitLocker.
The first step is to enable the BitLocker on your system Drive, that is, the drive where the Windows 10 is installed.
– Open File Explorer and go to “My PC.”
– Right-click on your system drive and choose “Turn on BitLocker.“
– Follow the on-screen steps, and at the end, click on “Start encrypting.“
– Your system would restart, and then encryption would begin, which would take some time, depending on the size of the drive.
Enable Security Key using BitLocker
Once the BitLocker is enabled, we can proceed to create the security key.
- Open Group Policy Editor
In Windows search bar, type “group policy editor” and click on the relatable icon to open Group Policy Editor.
- Navigate to Operating System Drives
Follow this path Computer Configuration -> Administrative Templates -> Windows Components -> BitLocker Drive Encryption -> Operating System Drives
- Open Require Additional Authentication at startup
Look for “Require Additional Authentication at startup” and open it.
- Enable it and Configure its settings
A new window would open, click on Enable bullet option. There’s a drop-down menu labeled “Configure TPM startup key.” Change this to “Require Startup Key With TPM.“
- Run Command Prompt
In the final step, run Command Prompt as admin and type this command:
manage-bde -protectors -add c: -TPMAndStartupKey j:
Where ‘c:’ is the drive where Windows is installed and ‘j:’ is assigned to the USB drive.
That’s it. The security key is created, and you would be asked to insert it whenever you start the computer.
How to create a USB Security Key Using Third-party App?
If you are a Windows 10 home user or you didn’t want to use the complicated method of Windows Bitlocker to create your USB security key, then some third-party applications could help you.
USB Raptor is one of the popular tools for turning a USB drive into a USB security key. The best part is that it is open-source software, and that is why it is entirely free to use for personal and non-commercial use. It is compatible with all the versions of Windows from Windows XP and above.
With Raptor, you can link the key to the serial number of the drive. The only problem with Raptor is, it does not encrypt the system as the BitLocker does. Yet, it would lock and unlock the device with the USB drive. However, it is easy to install and is quite flexible, so you can use it for a medium-security.
Predator is another popular program to turn a USB into a physical security key. After the USB drive is converted into a security key, your system would only be accessible when the USB is plugged in. As soon as the drive would be plugged out, the computer will be locked automatically.
Anybody who tries to access the system without the USB drive would receive an error message, “Access Denied.”
Installation of the Predator is easy. Download the installation file and open it. Later, you just have to follow the on-screen instructions.
Rohos Logon Key
Rohos Logon Key is a multi-platform security key maker software that provides two-factor authentication to unlock both Windows and macOS devices. It comes with both a free and paid version. Though the free version offers a lot of features, it is only available for Windows users.
Rohos store your login credential into the USB drive, and during startup, when you insert the drive, it automatically inputs the login details for unlocking the system.
These are the method using which you can convert a USB drive into a USB security key. As already mentioned, the physical keys can be of great use and provide extra security over passwords. Currently, you can use these keys for locking and unlocking the device; soon, you can also use them to log in to your different accounts.
A security key works by storing your login details in the drive, and when the drive is plugged in, it automatically inputs the stored credentials to unlock the device.
While creating a key, you would always be prompted to create a recovery method in case the key is lost or damaged. If you lose your key, immediately use the recovery method to log in and then remove the key as authentication.
According to YubiKey, due to security reasons, the firmware of YubiKey does not allow the system to read the drive after it is written. Therefore, it is impossible to create a backup of YubiKey.