F-Secure Key Review
F-Secure Key is a password manager that covers all the bases with an attractive desktop UI and industry-standard security. However, support and ease of use could use some work. Read more about Key in our full Key review.
F-Secure’s Key touts itself as “the ultimate password manager,” and upon first glance of its desktop UI, it’s easy to think so. However, what you find after further inspection is the barest of bones password manager on the market, operating mainly as an accessory to the rest of F-Secure’s products.
Key isn’t a completely busted piece of software. In this F-Secure Key review, we’re going to look at where this application excels and where it falls behind in terms of features, pricing, ease of use, security and support before giving our final thoughts on who it’s best suited for.
A password manager is only one step in securing your online accounts, though. While it can encrypt your information, it doesn’t protect against the weak passwords you use online. Read our guide on setting up a strong password or jump directly to our password generator and stay safe.
- Free plan
- Easy to use desktop client
- Applications for mobile
- Password auto-fill
- No form auto-fill
- No two-factor authentication
- Must manually add passwords
- No support staff
Key is mainly an addition to the rest of F-Secure’s online security products, an interesting note that impacts how useful it is. The first area we see this influence is in the feature set which is surprisingly light.
It’s as pure of a password manager as you can find. It’ll store your online accounts, desktop applications and credit card information, but nothing else. Key doesn’t support form auto-fill or any contact information.
Password and credit card entries do, however, allow you to add secure notes. With that, you can jerry-rig some sort of miscellaneous storage, but it’s not ideal. Also, while we assume notes are encrypted with your account information, F-Secure hasn’t confirmed that.
Outside of credit card and password entries, Key only has a few features and they’re more amusing than useful. Features like password analysis and breach notifications for your online accounts are helpful, but we’d rather see form support, 2FA and a more robust browser extension than these few additions. These three areas are important, as we’ll discuss in upcoming sections.
From what we can tell, an upgrade to Premium grants one additional feature: multi-device sync. This is something LastPass (read our LastPass review) offers on its free plan, so the paywall here is a bit disappointing.
Key comes in Windows, Mac, iOS and Android variants. As we’ll discuss in the user friendliness section below, the desktop application is the core of the service with browser and mobile variants simply supporting that central hub.
Key is light on features, but a password manager is a simple program at its core. We can envision a situation where this stripped back approach could be useful for someone who wants to be protected online, but doesn’t know much about cyber security.
Key offers only two plans: free and premium. For most, a free plan will suffice as it grants access to the desktop UI of the password manager and full support for credit cards and account storage.
1-year plan $ 2.75 / month
$32.99 billed every year
Key does not, however, come with multi-device sync. The free Key plan is for a single user on a single device. It’s a bit limiting, especially compared to Abine Blur, which has full multi-device sync and a unique masking feature on the free plan (read our Blur review).
That said, our favorite password manager, Dashlane, doesn’t have multi-device sync on its free plan, either (read our Dashlane review).
Premium plans can be had for as little as $2.30 per month if you sign a two-year contract. It’s slightly more expensive than LastPass, but slightly less expensive than 1Password (read our 1Password review), which only offers single year contracts.
The upgrade brings with it multi-device sync but, from what we can tell, not much else. Some other features that would’ve been nice would be form auto-fill, additional 2FA options (or any at all) and password backup and recovery.
Despite the small addition, Key is cheap as far as premium offerings goes. Additionally, we like the fully featured free plan, even if it’s missing multi-device sync. For your money, neither plan should deter you.
The only thing missing out of the lineup is some sort of business solution. F-Secure has a wide range of business products, but Key, unfortunately, is not among them. Perhaps, in the future, F-Secure will release a password manager built for teams.
F-Secure takes a different approach to password management. With a typical manager, you would sign up, install a browser extension and pluck away at entering all of your passwords. For more control, some password managers even include a desktop client.
The process is exactly the opposite with Key. You download the desktop client, create an account with it and then have the choice to install the browser extension. Unfortunately, it’s buried within the settings and you’re forced to copy a massive authorization code to use the extension. We can appreciate the commitment to security, but this process could easily be turned over to entering your master password.
As a consequence of this approach, you cannot add passwords as you land on new sites to Key. The extension offers no functionality outside of auto-fill inside of your browser. You’ll need to either add passwords manually or with a CSV file.
Thankfully, Key accepts Firefox password export as well as any file from major password managers. It does not, however, allow you to import passwords from any other browser like Dashlane does.
Importing functionality is there, but only if you use Firefox or come from another password manager. Outside of that, it’s as annoying of a task as you’d expect entering all of your passwords manually.
Key can be set up to either auto-fill non-browser applications or in the browser itself. This is an asinine approach as you’re forced to choose between the lackluster browser extension or offline applications. We’d be fine if Key worked on a browser level, but forcing you to choose between them for auto-fill doesn’t make much sense.
If you choose the browser extension, you simply get auto-fill. There are no quick links to generate a new password or access your list of passwords at all.
That said, the desktop experience is quite nice. F-Secure manages to lay out quite a bit of options in a very intuitive interface. We would like to see some options for sorting passwords such as folders, but this is a small con in light of the other things this service misses out on.
The only way to sort through your passwords is with color coding and symbols. Key allows you to add a color label and the change the symbol of each of your entries from a somewhat open list. Still, we would’ve liked to have folders or tags more.
F-Secure’s business is cyber security. As such, it should come as little surprise that Key uses industry standard AES-256 encryption for all of your passwords before any of that data is sent to F-Secure’s servers.
Basically, your data is encrypted at rest and then sent over an SSL/TLS channel to F-Secure. Since it’s encrypted on your local machine, F-Secure, nor any hacker, could possibly decrypt that information while it’s in transit or on F-Secure’s servers.
To protect against brute force attacks, F-Secure also uses many rounds of hashing to slow the number of guesses a machine has to intercept your data.
Additionally, F-Secure uses a zero-knowledge model with your master password. It’s never sent to F-Secure or stored on a server. Only you know it and should you forget, you’ll have to use a randomly generated recovery code to unlock your account.
Despite F-Secure’s business, there’s a massive oversight in the security realm. There is no form of two-factor authentication, a must for any serious password manager. Since figuring out your vault password is equivalent to winning the lottery for a hacker, any form of 2FA would be nice to see.
2FA basically means there’s some second form of verifying your identity before you login. In most cases, that means a small code will be sent to your mobile device that you’ll have to use after entering your master password.
Security protocols and privacy are all sound with Key, but the practical addition of 2FA would go a long way in ensuring your security, even if you have to use a third-party authenticator such as Authy.
Help for Key is limited to the community forums and FAQ section. There is no way to contact support should an issue arise, not even over email.
F-Secure does provide live chat and phone access, but only as an overarching form of contact. Since it provides many different products, support members don’t have most of the answers when it comes to the Key part of the lineup.
With that, we’re drawing the line that the only form of support is the stuff you can read yourself.
That said, the FAQ section is quite dense. While organization could use a facelift, there’s a topic for just about every area of this password manager.
Should any issues arise, you can always use the community forums. This isn’t a support form, but just a conglomerate of other users that can offer advice from experience (and not too reliably). It’s a nice addition, but we’d rather have a contact form.
Support is almost always a lackluster area for password managers, but Key even sits under that low bar. With no forms of contact, it’s hard to say F-Secure offers much help at all. You’ll likely find an answer in the FAQs, but only if you don’t mind digging around a bit.
F-Secure is a good, but not great, choice in password manager. It covers all the bases a password manager should with industry standard security measures, an attractive desktop UI and auto-fill inside of a browser.
It’s difficult, however, for us to overlook where this service stumbles. Support is abysmal, ease of use isn’t on par with other password managers and no 2FA options make the security feel at least a few years outdated.
For a few online accounts, Key works well with the desktop client. Any heavier workload is better suited with another password manager. Check out our other password manager reviews for some recommendations or our guide to the best password managers.
What do you think of Key? Let us know in the comments below and, as always, thanks for reading.