Can I Use My YubiKey With USB-C on My iPhone or iPad?

iPhones & iPads with Lightning Ports

If your iPhone/iPad has a Lightning connector, it will work normally with your YubiKey.

For the list of compatible YubiKey keys please see Yubico's Strongbox product page here:

iPhones with USB-C Ports

If your iPhone has a USB-C connector, it will only work with NFC compatible YubiKeys.

This affects all models in the iPhone 15 lineup.

iPads with USB-C Ports

If your iPad has a USB-C connector, it will not work with your YubiKey. (There is a workaround however that we've detailed below.)

This affects the following iPad models:

  • iPad Pro 11-inch (1st generation or later)
  • iPad Pro 12.9-inch (3rd generation or later)
  • iPad Air (4th generation or later)
  • iPad mini (6th generation)

Strongbox, like all KeePass based apps, uses a message authentication code (MAC) called HMACSHA1. iPadOS has limited support for USB accessories over USB-C and, therefore, it is currently not possible to use HMACSHA1 over USB-C on iPad.

Also, iPads do not support NFC so cannot be used with NFC compatible YubiKeys.

Please note, this is because of design decisions made by both Apple and Yubico. We encourage USB-C iPad users to contact Apple and Yubico directly and request that they add full support for USB-C!

Using a Virtual Hardware Key With Your USB-C iPad

Even though it's not currently possible to use a physical hardware key on USB-C iPads, it is possible to set up a Virtual Hardware Key.

A Virtual Hardware Key uses the "secret" that was created when you first set up your YubiKey, so the physical hardware key does not need to be present.

Creating a Virtual Hardware Key
  1. On your iPad, tap your database to begin the Unlock sequence.
  2. If you are using a PIN Code, Touch ID or Face ID convenience unlock then you need to fail or cancel out of this to get to the manual unlock screen.
  3. Now under 'Hardware Key' tap 'Configure...' or tap your existing Hardware Key configuration if that was set.
  4. Under 'Virtual Hardware Keys' tap 'Add New...'
  5. Enter a name for your new Virtual Hardware Key, e.g. "My iPad Virtual Hardware Key"
  6. Enter your HMAC-SHA1 secret (which you programmed your YubiKey with) string (without spaces) in to the HMAC-SHA1 Secret field.
  7. You may or may not need to switch on the "Fixed Length Input" switch depending on how you originally programmed your YubiKey.
  8. Tap Add to complete the creation of your Virtual Hardware Key.

You should now be able to unlock, edit and otherwise access your YubiKey protected database.

Sep 13, 2023