Using a Hardware Token for Two-Step Verification

To request a token, please contact your local IT Support Desk or email with the subject line "Request a hardware token," or call 617-495-7777. Each hardware token must be pre-configured by Harvard. You cannot use a token you have purchased yourself, it must be one provided by Harvard. Tokens take 15-30 days to be delivered.

A hardware token is a small device that, when plugged into your computer, offers two-factor verification with a touch of a button. Some important things to know about hardware tokens:

  • Tokens do not work with mobile devices, but can be used as an alternative two-step verification method for HarvardKey. They require a USB port.
  • Tokens cannot be shared. Each token is exclusive to a user and cannot be assigned to more than one HarvardKey account. 
  • Two-step verification must already be activated on your HarvardKey account with another device for a token to be added. Activate two-step verification now before following these instructions. 

Follow these steps for requesting and setting up your hardware token on your HarvardKey account.

Download a printable copy of these instructions >

1. Users must first set up two-step verification for HarvardKey with a device, such as a landline. Instructions can be found at If you do not have access to a primary device, contact your local IT Support Desk or call the HUIT Support Desk.

2. To request a token, contact your local IT Support Desk or email HUIT at with the subject line "Request a hardware token". Each hardware token must be pre-configured by Harvard.

3. Once you receive your token, insert it into an open USB port on your computer with the metal "Y" face up. 

4. For Windows users, your computer will recognize the device and automatically install the necessary software. When complete, a pop-up balloon will indicate the device is ready to use.

For Mac OS users, the first time you insert a hardware token, your computer will recognize it as a USB keyboard. Simply close the pop-up window to continue.  


5. Visit a HarvardKey-protected website or application, like the Harvard internal directory, When prompted for two-step verification, click Enter a Passcode.

6. Tap the metal "Y" on your token and you will be automatically logged in. If you experience difficulty, contact the HUIT Service Desk at or 617-495-7777.

See also: Knowledge