Hideez Key provides password management on a very specific model. Many password managers store their customers’ data, secured by heavy encryption and “zero-knowledge” master password keys, in the cloud or otherwise on remote servers; some also provide local storage options on mobile and desktop devices. But for those customers who might not be comfortable having their data stored in the cloud and want a local storage option with maximum portability, there’s Hideez Key.
Hideez Key works with a localized companion app called Hideez Safe to provide secure access to your digital devices and accounts, and many other things besides. It’s a unique approach to the password management niche, and while there are other managers that provide local-only storage, Hideez Key is singular in providing its own proprietary key fob for the purpose. In this review, we’ll lay out how well it works and what the trade-offs might be.
Pros & Cons of Hideez Key
|Fully local password storage||The convenience and flexibility of password generation and import takes a hit|
|Provides TOTP-based two-factor authentication||Key combinations and/or button-based password replay may not be congenial to all users|
|Can be used as a proximity lock for your devices||Managing and syncing data depends on having your Hideez Key or a device with Hideez Safe installed|
|Functionality and reliability of mobile app versions of Hideez Safe is much improved||Loss of your Hideez Key can mean the permanent loss of your data if local backups aren’t fully up to date|
|A surprising array of additional features for a device this compact||Overall, there’s a trade-off of security against convenience|
Key Features of Hideez Key
We evaluated Hideez Key according to the five most important features of a password manager:
- Security and encryption are the core mission of password protection and need to be up to speed with modern industry standards.
- Broad-based app compatibility is important for the ability to import data and manage accounts across popular browsers and types of devices.
- Ease of use ensures that password management doesn’t require an IT expert to be effective.
- Password sharing allows flexibility for users to share devices and accounts when necessary.
- Whether a password manager delivers value for money depends on how its structures price and what features it provides at which price points.
Below is breakdown, feature-by-feature, of what Hideez Key delivers.
Security & Encryption
Hideez Key is a rarity among password managers in being based on a specific proprietary device. Paired with the Hideez Safe app (which is required to set up and activate it), Hideez Key supports a surprisingly large array of security features for such a compact device. It can be used to generate one-time passwords with two-factor authentication and to authenticate users with biometrics, specifically eye vein biometrics (as well as taking photos of unauthorized users). It can generate secure passwords and create time-based one-time passwords (TOTP) with two-factor authentication. Bluetooth connections to the device are encrypted with a unique connection key, meaning the fact that your data literally lives in your pocket makes it otherwise virtually impossible to compromise by online means. (Admittedly, whether this is a particularly noteworthy feature will vary for different users: it’s not that doing so is much less difficult with other password managers that operate on a zero-knowledge protocol, use modern end-to-end encryption and make user vaults accessible only to those with a master password.)
Backups of Hideez Key and Hideez-Safe-secured passwords are on local devices only and are protected by AES-256 encryption, which is the industry standard. In terms of general security functionality, it can be used to lock or unlock computers, tablets or smartphones, to provide button-based password replay or for recall by specific keystroke combinations for device access and online accounts. It uses the range limitations on Bluetooth technology to act as a proximity lock that ensures your other devices can’t be unlocked without the key fob being sufficiently close.
Hideez Key’s password generator creates 16-character passwords using combinations of upper- and lower-case letters and punctuation. This isn’t customizable, but the resulting passwords are reasonably strong, and otherwise, the device and app provide solid security.
Hideez Safe and Hideez Key are compatible with Windows, macOS and Linux systems and work with (and import data from) most popular web browsers. Hideez Safe comes in mobile app form for Android and iOS, and while the mobile apps were noted for an initially rough and crash-plagued roll-out, they have since stabilized and become genuinely useful and functional. Overall, Hideez should work well with most of the devices you’ll want to use it on, and it’s reasonably robust in storing up to two thousand passwords per device.
|Other||FIDO U2F, FIDO 2/WebAuthN|
Ease of Use
To set up a Hideez Key, users first need to install Hideez Safe on a minimum of one device and then set up a Hideez Safe account. This involves either downloading the desired app for the device from the website or scanning a QR code with a mobile device and then inputting the expected user name and a strong password to activate the account (this combines with a unique key specific to the device to provide effective two-factor authentication). After this, you can pair the Hideez Key with the device and take a two-step process to export existing passwords from a browser into a CSV file, which you can then import to the Key. It’s a bit more labor-intensive than the process associated with some other password managers, but it’s manageable.
Most password managers use browser extensions to autofill passwords when you visit a known site. Hideez Key demands a little more work from the user. Saved passwords need to be “replayed” using either specific keystroke combinations (if working on a computer, tablet or smartphone) or using the Hideez Key’s own button. Different numbers of button presses on the Hideez Key can be used to enter password data a certain number of times or can be customized to activate other functions like shutting down a device or running a program.
As ease of use goes, there’s definitely a certain trade-off in choosing Hideez Key. It doesn’t present a forbidding barrier to the new user, but it’s certainly not as convenient and easy to use as a leading-edge password manager that isn’t designed for local-only storage using a specific key fob. Whether this trade-off is worth it will depend a great deal on how much the user values the specific niche of security that Hideez Key provides.
Owing to its very particular security paradigm, Hideez Key does not itself provide secure password sharing. It’s designed to provide password management for the user carrying the key fob. Hideez does offer other password management solutions with centralized administration, identity management and security policy management that covers this particular kind of base, and you’ll need to check out those offerings if you’re looking for secure password sharing. This gap in the feature set would be a major mark against a password manager less specific in its concept and design than this one, but Hideez Key gets something of a pass given that this feature just isn’t relevant to the particular niche it’s targeting.
The most current version of Hideez Key is actually called the Hideez Key 2 and is available for $59 (not including shipping). This one-time purchase price for the device constitutes more-than-reasonable value for money given the fairly impressive security features this little gadget provides. The Hideez Safe companion app is free. All in all, provided you’re in the market for password security on this particular model, it’s a very affordable way to go.
|One-Time Hideez Key 2 Purchase||$59 per device|
How Hideez Key Works
The table below provides a basic run-down of how Hideez Key approaches certain typical password management tasks.
|Functionality||How It Works|
|Setting up the vault||Download and install Hideez Safe app, set up Hideez Sage account, pair device on which app is installed with Hideez Key and either manually enter or import (as CSV file) existing passwords|
|Logging into accounts||Password replay using specific keystroke combinations or button press on Hideez Key|
|Creating passwords||Password generator available when creating a new account|
|Changing passwords||Password generator available when updating an existing password|
|Sharing logins||Not available|
|Recovering account||Local data backups available, can be set to automate backups via Bluetooth connection|
|Advanced security features||TOTP, 2-factor authentication, biometric authentication|
What Customers Are Saying
Hideez Key gets high marks from customers seeking to manage passwords on a small number of devices in a home or offices, the core target niche for its Bluetooth-based localized-storage approach. As one customer puts it: “I have over six devices in my home that I have to keep track of my passwords, and all the user accounts associated. I love this product because it’s made my life easier. I no longer have to search for through files to see what changed . . . I would recommend it for anyone looking for something pocketable, easy and super convenient for a busy lifestyle.” Others like its proximity lock and unlocking and button-press password replay features: “The primary thing I found useful to myself is a Bluetooth Proximity lock/unlock feature. I wear the key on my belt, and when I step away from a laptop, it gets automatically locked, but as soon as I approach back, the key unlocked my account . . . Another thing that was interesting for me is password auto type: [the] key detects the website, and when the cursor is in the login/password input field, I can click the key button to type in data from the secure storage.”
Hideez Key is a fascinating take on password management that users looking to manage access to several devices with Bluetooth functionality will find particularly attractive and cost-effective. With its multifactor authentication and unique proximity locking and unlocking features, it provides very strong protection with a different approach from the norm. It will be most attractive for users who find its particular niche important enough for their needs to take the hit in convenience and ease of use that comes with the initial process of setting it up and implementing it.