Passwords are ubiquitous in the information age. We use them every day to sign into our web accounts and devices. As such, passwords help secure our digital lives.
Well... sort of.
Notwithstanding their widespread use, passwords are inherently insecure because they are only information. They are not tied to any physical object. Attackers can therefore steal a password from a vulnerable database (or from the Post-It note on your desktop), or they can purchase a tool that allows them to brute force their way into your account.
It is in response to the shortcomings of password security that we have discussed in recent articles how to add an extra layer of protection to your web accounts.
After covering the difference between two-factor authentication (2FA) and two-step verification (2SV), we explored how to protect a Google account with 2SV, including via the use of the Google Authenticator app.
For argument's sake, let's say you access your online accounts from a MacBook Pro or an iPhone. Those devices require an Apple ID to use iTunes and other features, to install updates, and to unlock the screen, if you so choose. That single set of credentials is central to a user's experience across all Apple devices.
I think, therefore, that your Apple ID deserves an added layer of protection. Don't you?
In this guide, I will show you how you can protect your Apple ID against brute force attacks.
1. Use a web browser to sign into your Apple ID.
On your Apple ID homepage, you will see some basic information about your account, including your email and birthday. You will also see a "Security" section that allows you to change your password, change your security questions, add a rescue email, and activate "Two-Step Verification." Click on the hyperlinked text "Get Started" beneath that lattermost feature.
2. Apple will prompt you to answer two of your three security questions. Submit the proper answers and click "Continue."
3. A dialog box explaining how two-step verification works and how it changes your Apple experience will pop up. Click on the "Continue" button.
4. Another dialog box will appear and prompt you to enter in your mobile number. Do so and press "Continue."
5. Apple will send a verification code via SMS to your mobile device. Enter the code into the web browser and click "Verify."
6. Once you have verified your mobile number, Apple will ask you if you would like to enable verification codes on any device with which you have enabled Find My iPhone, iPod, or iPad. If you would like to activate two-step verification on any of those devices, select the desired devices and go through the setup process. Otherwise click "Continue."
7. Apple will present you with a recovery key that you can use to access your account in the event you lose your device or you temporarily cannot receive codes to your device. Make sure you write down or print that code and store it somewhere safe before clicking "Continue."
8. Enter in your recovery key and click "Confirm."
9. To complete the process, Apple will alert you to several conditions of enabling two-step verification on your account. These include what you will need in the future to unlock your account.
When you have finished reading over the conditions, check the box next to the text that reads, "I understand the conditions" and click "Enable Two-Step Verification."
10. And just like that, you're done!
On your Apple ID homepage, you will now see under the "Security" section that Two-Step Verification is labeled "On." You will also see trusted numbers/devices clearly displayed.
Whenever you attempt to sign into your account from now on, you'll now come across a screen similar to this one.
Click on a trusted device on which you would like to receive a verification code. This will lead you to a new screen.
In the meantime, you should have received a verification code on the device you selected. Enter that code into your web browser. Apple will automatically verify the code (if correct) and will direct you to your Apple ID account home page. From there, you can enjoy all the benefits your Apple ID affords.
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