Apple users can now secure their accounts with a physical security key.
According to the tech giant, the security keys — small external devices that look like thumb drives or tags — offer additional protection against phishing attacks or social engineering scams, and can be used for verification when signing in with an Apple ID via two-digit Factor authentication logs.
The security key can act as a replacement for the six-digit verification code that is typically used for two-factor authentication.
“Because you’re using a physical key instead of the six-digit code, security keys strengthen the two-factor authentication process and help prevent your second factor of authentication from being intercepted or requested by an attacker,” Apple says.
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However, there is a twist: If a user loses all trusted devices and security keys, they can be locked out of their Apple account forever.
At a minimum, FIDO®-certified* security keys are required that work with the Apple devices you use regularly, and iOS 16.3, iPadOS 16.3, or macOS Ventura 13.2 or later on any device where you’re signed in with your Apple ID .
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A modern web browser is also a must, according to Apple, and an iPhone or iPad with a software version that supports security keys is also required to sign in to an Apple Watch, Apple TV, or HomePod.
Using the security keys requires a trusted device or security key to sign in with an Apple ID on a new device or the web, reset an Apple ID password or unlock an Apple ID, or add additional security keys or a remove security key .
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“Keep your security keys in a safe place and consider keeping a security key in more than one place. For example, keep one key at home and one key at work. When you travel, you might want to leave one of your security keys at home,” advises Apple.
Apple first announced security keys for the Apple ID in December, along with two other enhanced security features.