How to set up security key for my Microsoft Account and why is it useful?

January 16, 2019 |

greater than 3 minutes

How many times have you had to reset your password because you couldn’t remember it? You can now sign in to your Microsoft account using a security key or Windows Hello instead of a password.

Apart from having many passwords, most of us use poor or weak passwords, making it easy for hackers to access our accounts. Microsoft introduced the new security feature in the October 2018 Update for Windows 10, taking the security of your Microsoft account a notch higher.

Using this password-less sign-in is simple, and this post explains how to sign in to a Microsoft account using a security key.

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What is a Security Key?

A security key is a physical device, such as a USB security key, that you can use to sign in to your account without the need for a username and password. To make it even more secure, you will be required to add a PIN or fingerprint. This means that for a person to access your Microsoft account, they will also need to have your PIN or fingerprint.

You can purchase your security key from a shop dealing in computer accessories. Currently, this password-less sign-in can only be applied to a few Microsoft services, including OneDrive, Skype, Microsoft Edge, Microsoft Store, and Outlook.

Two types of security keys are available for you to choose from:

  • A USB key that you directly plug into your device.
  • An NFC key that you can use to tap on an NFC reader.

However, to use this new security feature, your device has to fulfil certain compatibility requirements. You need to have installed the Windows 10 October 2018 Update and be running Windows 10 version 1809.

How to Set Up Security Keys

  1. Open the Microsoft account page and sign in using your username and password. You can only use Microsoft Edge to complete this process. Using any other browser gives you the message, “Your browser or operating system does not support this”.
  2. Click the “Security” tab and open “More security options” at the bottom of the page.
  3. Go to “Windows Hello and Security Keys” and select “Set a Security Key”. If you want to use Windows Hello instead, select “Set up Windows Hello”.
  4. Choose if you want a USB key or an NFC key, and then click “Next”.
  5. You’ll be redirected to another page to complete the setup, where you’ll be required to insert or tap your security key.
  6. Create a new PIN that you want to use for this key or use an existing PIN if you have any.
  7. Microsoft will want to verify your identity, and you’ll be asked to touch the button or gold circle on your security key. Make sure you read your security key manufacturer’s instructions to get the full details.
  8. Assign your security key a suitable name, and then click “Next”.
  9. Select “Got it” to finish the setup.
  • Sign out of your Microsoft account. The next time you want to sign in to your Microsoft account using a security key, select “Use Windows Hello or security key instead”, and insert or tap your key.

Despite this security measure by Microsoft, hackers can still phish and steal or corrupt your personal data. For complete peace of mind, install the Auslogics Anti-Malware tool to safeguard your device.

The tool actively checks your computer, browser, files, and Windows registry to detect and quarantine any suspicious programs. You can even schedule regular scans so that you don’t have to worry about malware infections. Hackers use various ways to target Windows users, but with the combination of the Auslogics Anti-Malware tool and Microsoft’s security keys, your safety will be guaranteed.

At this point, the password-less authentication methods are available in the United States and will work only in Microsoft Edge. Microsoft is soon expected to roll out this feature globally and extend its use to other accounts.

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Which sign-in method do you prefer the most? Let us know in the comments below.

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