Yubikey 4 vs. 5, is there a difference in security settings?

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Passwords are easy to breach, speaking from experience. However, we will see in this Yubikey 4 vs. 5 review why they eliminatethe issue of online security breaches.

Security keys arelifesavers, something we know very well. They help you secure all your online accounts – otherwise, you expose yourself to risks of cybercrimes. In case you thought of it as a theoretical issue, it actually happens; studies have shown that passwords are a very weak wayof securing an account. In this article, we review two security keys, the Yubikey 4 vs. 5, and see whether they live up to expectations.

What are the differences between Yubikey 4 and 5?How do they compare?

Model Yubikey 4 Yubikey 5
Dimensions (inches) 0.71 x 0.12 x 1.77 2.6 x 1.6 x 0.2
USB port type USB-A USB-A
Open source Yes Yes
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Yubikey 4 vs. Yubikey 5 – what are the differences?

Form factors

WhileYubikeyis good at performance of different protocols, not everything will be under access for both. The Yubikey 4 has multiple factors, being the Nano and the Yubikey 4 itself. The Yubikey 5 series, on the other hand, is the most advanced in terms of looks and features – coming in the USB-A, Nano, and USB-C. In terms of accessibility, the Yubikey 5 is more advanced in its use, since you can use it for both computer/laptop and mobile.

The NFC in Yubikey 5

When looking at a security key, you may want to connect it with your phone or other mobile device, such as a tablet. The Yubikey 4 does not have the NFC feature, but the Yubikey 5 does. This allows you to safeguard your online presence whether you are using your computer or your phone.

Setting up the keys

If you are a heavy Google user, especially in terms of using the Chrome browser, then the Yubikey 4 is not a bad option for you as it works very well with the Chrome browser. However, it does have many challenges when you are setting it up – it might be marketed to the beginners, but the actual fact is that it is more suited for the advanced users (the instructions seem to gear themselves to using any kind of 2FA). In addition, the key only works in Chrome, and not on any other browser – so it is important to keep that in mind.

On the other hand, the Yubikey 5 is more basic in its setup process, as well as working on multiple browsers (as long as they support FIDO U2F). Along with being very good at working with numerous platforms through their tap-and-go authentication with Windows 10 devices, multiple browsers, and Android applications, it is friendlier if you are a beginner in U2F keys.

Yubikey 4

Yubikey 4 vs 4

One of the features that we noticed in Yubikey 4 security key was that it requires no extra connectivity or internet to function properly once you finish installing it, which allows you to use it to access your data even when you are offline.

The key has been made from reinforced fiberglass material, which makes it resistant to crushing and water. The material itself is injection molded and sealed, yet remains lightweight.The key has a compact design, allowing you to carry it anywhere, and its small size ensures you have access to your most important data at all times.


  • Supports multiple protocols
  • Through the app, you can generate multiple one-time passwords


  • Slightly more challenging to set up

Yubikey 5

yubikey 4 vs 5

This is another security key that seeks to help upgrade your security, as well as being easy to set up. All these benefits are at an affordable price – in fact, it is among the cheapest Yubikeys you can get on the market.

Similar to the Yubikey 4, this is also made from reinforced fiberglass material, which makes it resistant to crushing and water. The material itself is injection molded and hermetically sealed to resist damage, yet remains lightweight.The compact design allows you to carry it anywhere, and ensures you always have access to your most important data.


  • Easy to set up and use
  • Great for basic 2-factor authentication


  • Changing your settings is difficult

Final thoughts

The Yubikey 5 manages to impress in many ways, especially when it comes to basic protection of your accounts. However, we still have to pick a winner in the Yubikey 4 vs. 5 review, which is the Yubikey 4. If you are a more technical user that does not mind the challenge of setting up your security, it is a better pick, as it supports multiple protocols while allowing you to generate many OTPs.


What is the advantage of using U2F keys over 2FA authentication methods?

While 2FA proves be to a more useful security method than a password, it does have its own inherent issues, such as the risk of reusing the password. U2F is the most reliable, as it allows you to access multiple accounts without the need of a password or exposure risks, all through the use of one device.

How do you use a security key?

U2F keys have a similar build to a USB drive, but do not contain any information. Instead, there is a single chip within it that allows you to access your data. The key will basically work as a second factor authentication, and some keys will allow you to retain your passwords as well. After you log in through the usual process, you insert the key into a USB port briefly, then tap the button.

What happens when the U2F key gets lost?

The process of setting up the key also allows you to select backup methods you can use just in case. For instance, the use of authenticator apps, or OTP (One time password) codes and extra U2F keys.

What if it gets stolen?

The person who steals the key cannot access your account unless they know your password, which the key does not have (it only stores digital certificates, which do not have login information).

When it comes to U2F do you need a separate key for each account?

No, you can use one key for multiple accounts.