A little over a decade ago, Yubico was an obscure security company founded in Sweden, with only five full-time employees. Then Google came along and signed up to use Yubico’s product—a tiny hardware doodad that acts as physical security key when plugged into the USB port on a PC—to protect its employees.
That deal put Yubico on the map, leading many of the internet’s biggest companies, including Microsoft, Amazon and Apple, to also adopt those tiny devices, known as YubiKeys, to ensure that hackers don’t compromise their employees’ online accounts, said a person with direct knowledge of the matter. The company has provided its security keys to the political campaigns of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Emmanuel Macron and President-elect Joseph Biden, that person said. Banks in the U.S. and Europe, which have been slow to roll out the keys to customers, are beginning to do so now, Stina Ehrensvärd, the CEO and co-founder of Yubico, told The Information in an interview last week.