This Tiny Device Makes It So You Never Have to Remember Another Password

YubiKey 5 Series
YubiKey 5 Series

In our increasingly online world, password management has become an overwhelming chore. You probably use dozens of passwords on any given day—for your email (work and personal), your social networking accounts, your Spotify, your Seamless, your online bank account, your Venmo, every single store you’ve ever made an online purchase from, and any other site you set up a profile for. Personally, my password manager holds almost 200 different passwords that I’ve created over the past two years. There has to be a better way. And there is. According to Wired, the new YubiKey 5 Series could make passwords entirely a thing of the past.

Made by Yubico, a security company founded in Sweden in 2007, YubiKey is a type of physical token called a security key that you plug into your computer as a way to verify your identity in place of the usual two-factor authentication methods like texting a number to your phone. You can use it in conjunction with your existing password as an extra layer of protection for services like Gmail, password managers like LastPass, and some Windows and Mac devices, kind of like how you need both a physical debit card and a pin to use an ATM.

With the launch of its latest version, the 5 Series, Yubico is now moving toward hardware options that don’t require passwords at all. It uses near-field communication (the same technology behind some keycards and tap-to-pay systems) and a new open authentication standard called FIDO2 that’s designed to protect login information from getting into the wrong hands. Instead of using information that can be stolen to verify your identity—that probably not-that-secure password you always forget—this method allows sites to authenticate your identity with a physical object like a YubiKey that you carry with you. While a hacker can steal your password off the internet from anywhere in the world, it’s much harder to fraudulently log in to someone’s account if you need to steal their YubiKey from off their key ring to do so.

The passwordless future hasn’t entirely arrived, though. Companies like Mozilla, Google, and Microsoft are still working on implementing the FIDO2 standard, so while you will one day be able to use passwordless logins for things like Chrome and Firefox, that’s not the case yet—you still can only use it for two-factor authentication, using the key in conjunction with a password. And passwordless doesn't mean you won't have to remember any information to log in. Even when you can use the key alone in place of a password, you will likely still want to use a PIN with it, just as you use one with your debit card.

YubiKey isn’t the only security key available. Google makes its own key, called Titan, though it doesn't yet support the new FIDO2 standard. There’s also an open-source version in the works called Solo. As a security measure, these keys have been shown to be very effective. Google, for one, began requiring all of its employees to use security keys in 2017, and it hasn’t fallen prey to any phishing attacks since then.

If you have a tendency to lose things, you might worry about tying all of your existing online accounts to a piece of hardware that you might lose at any moment. There are a few ways to get around that very plausible occurrence, though. Most rely on the particular service you’re using the key to access, so if you lose the device, you’ll have to go through and disable your YubiKey authentication for any application you have linked it to. You may have to go through the steps you would normally take to reset your password, essentially, using another form of two-factor authentication like SMS. LastPass, for instance, offers a way to disable your YubiKey authentication if you lose your key. Some services allow you to register multiple authentication keys, too, so you could also buy and register a back-up key to use if your primary one goes missing. Being a little forgetful about your belongings is no excuse for poor security, in other words.

[h/t Wired]

9 Amazon Prime Perks You Might Be Missing Out On

From diapers to camera equipment to jewelry, you can buy just about anything on Amazon and have it delivered to your doorstep in a matter of days—or in some cases, even hours. If you buy from the retailer often enough, its Prime service, which offers free two-day shipping, will save you far more than the $119 it costs to subscribe.

Your Prime membership offers a lot more than free shipping, though. To get even more out of Prime, don't forget to take full advantage of all its extra perks.

1. Photo Storage

Woman on computer next to camera

One of the most convenient perks of your Prime membership is unlimited photo storage on Amazon Drive. You can add photos from your phone or computer and access them from your devices. You also have the option to back up those photos automatically with the Amazon Photos app. This way, you can free up precious storage space on your phone. Amazon says it doesn't adjust or reduce the quality of your images, either.

In addition to unlimited photo storage, Prime members also get 5 GB of data storage for free, which is useful for saving videos and other files.

2. Grocery Delivery

A grocery cart on top of iPhone

With Prime Pantry, you can skip the supermarket and have grocery staples delivered to your door. For a flat fee of $5.99, you can order all the kitchen, household, and pet care items you can fit in a box. Each time you add an order to your virtual Pantry box, Amazon will tell you how much room you have left. And if the order is over $35, Prime members get free delivery.

3. Music, Movies, and TV Shows

Amazon Prime Video app on Apple TV

Prime members also get access to Prime Video, where they can find a huge selection of free movies and TV shows, including its original programming. Similarly, Prime Music includes a massive collection of streaming music from top artists. The songs are ad-free and you can download them to your device in order to listen to them even when you’re not connected to data.

Prime also gives away free entertainment credits via its “no-rush shipping” option. Your Prime membership comes with free two-day shipping, but if you choose a later delivery date, you can score digital credits toward eBooks, music, videos, and apps.

4. Free Kindle eBooks

A Kindle Paperwhite on display
David McNew, Getty Images

If you're a Prime member with a Kindle e-reader or Fire tablet, you also have access to the Kindle Owners' Lending Library. It's like a digital public library that offers access to hundreds of thousands of books.

The catch is that you can only borrow one title a month, and the available titles change every month. However, there are no due dates, so if it takes you a few months to finish a book, you don't have to worry about late fees.

5. Steeper Discounts on Some Products

baby products Debenport

If you have a young child or infant, you can score discounts on supplies with Amazon Family, which offers 20 percent off certain product subscriptions (like diapers and baby food) through Amazon Subscribe & Save. If you use Amazon Family to register for gifts, you also get a 15 percent completion discount on some items, which basically means you'll get a price cut on any items left on your registry.

Even if you’re not a parent, Amazon's Subscribe & Save option can help cut the cost of certain products. You get up to 15 percent off household items when you opt to receive at least five of those products periodically—you set the schedule, so you decide whether that new bag of dog food is delivered every week or month.

6. Early Access to Deals

Amazon homepage

Amazon's Lightning Deals can be hit or miss, but if you have Prime, you can scope them out early. Amazon allows Prime members to check out what's on sale 30 minutes before anyone else, which can help you snag popular items that will sell out fast.

And on Amazon Prime Day, Prime members are privy to even more deals.

7. Two-Hour Delivery

Scarlett Moffatt of Gogglebox with Prime Now package
Andrew Benge, Getty Images for Amazon

If you need something in a rush, Amazon will ship items from local stores, depending on your Zip code, with free two-hour delivery. This service is called Prime Now, and it is, of course, only available to Prime customers. It includes over 10,000 items, many of which are household staples like cleaning products, toiletries, and food. However, it also includes some electronics like video games, chargers, and computer accessories.

After acquiring Whole Foods in 2017, Amazon has added the grocery chain to its Prime Now service in select cities, too. They're testing Whole Foods delivery in a number of major metro areas before rolling it out nationwide.

8. Twitch Prime

Hands on a controller playing a video game

Twitch is a live video streaming service for gamers. And since Amazon purchased the company in 2014, you can now get Twitch Prime membership for free with Amazon Prime.

Each month, Twitch members get "free game loot," which includes access to a new game. You can also watch other gamers stream their videos ad-free, and you get one free channel subscription every 30 days. If you already have Amazon Prime, you simply need to link your account to Twitch Prime.

9. Amazon Elements

Amazon Elements Baby Wipes

For the socially conscious shopper, Amazon launched Amazon Elements, a shopping portal that includes a line of "premium products."

With Amazon Elements, Amazon only partners with suppliers that meet its "high-quality and safety standards." For now, the selection of products on Elements is scarce. Categories are limited to vitamins and baby wipes. You can dig deeper into the sourcing of these products, though, and review the item's quality report as well as ingredient and product origins via the Amazon app.

At Mental Floss, we only write about the products we love and want to share with our readers, so all products are chosen independently by our editors. Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers and may receive a percentage of any sale made from the links on this page. Prices and availability are accurate as of the time of publication.

University of California and McMaster University Are Offering Their Learning How to Learn Course Online for Free

Deagreez/iStock via Getty Images Plus
Deagreez/iStock via Getty Images Plus

If you've ever stayed up late cramming information the night before an exam, it probably didn't go well. Or maybe you tried doing the right thing by spending days or even months studying a subject, only to realize you weren't retaining the information. These failed attempts may have you believe you're just not cut out for the subject matter, but that's not always true. In the course Learning How to Learn from Coursera, you can understand what it takes to truly understand new information, as well as the key strategies and habits you can employ to make it all stick.

Learning How to Learn is taught by Dr. Barbara Oakley, a Ramón y Cajal Distinguished Scholar of Global Digital Learning at McMaster University, along with Dr. Terrence Sejnowski, who holds the Francis Crick Chair at the Salk Institute and is a professor at the University of California, San Diego. Throughout the weeks, they’ll teach you how to combat procrastination, how our brains process information, and the importance of breaking up new material into bite-sized chunks. You’ll also cover how taking breaks, getting sleep, and exercising are just as important as studying when it comes to learning something new.

According to Coursera, to finish the class in the typical four-week time, most students devote about three hours a week to the online videos, readings, quizzes, and coursework. There’s also no need to cram—which you’ll learn is not an effective learning tool—as this course is self-paced.

The course itself is free, but if you want a certificate of completion to share on your LinkedIn and resume, it will cost $49. Signing up for the certificate also gives you access to graded assignments, whereas the free version only allows you to read the course material.

You can also check out more free classes offered by Ivy League colleges by heading here.

At Mental Floss, we only write about the products we love and want to share with our readers, so all products are chosen independently by our editors. Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers and may receive a percentage of any sale made from the links on this page. Prices and availability are accurate as of the time of publication.