Apple users can now secure their account with a physical security key.
According to the tech giant, security keys — small external devices that look like thumb drives or tags — provide additional protection against phishing attacks or social engineering scams and can be used to verify when you’re signed in with an Apple ID using two-factor authentication.
The security key can act as an alternative to the six-digit verification code that is typically used for two-factor authentication.
“Because you use a physical key instead of a six-digit code, security keys strengthen the two-factor authentication process and help prevent an attacker from intercepting or requiring the second authentication factor,” says Apple.
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However, there is a twist: If a user loses all trusted devices and security keys, they could be locked out of their Apple account forever.
Required At least FIDO® Certified* Security Keys work with the Apple devices you use regularly, as well as iOS 16.3, iPadOS 16.3, or macOS Ventura 13.2 or later on all devices where you’re signed in with your Apple ID.
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A modern web browser is also a must, per Apple, as is an iPhone or iPad with a software version that supports security keys to sign into your Apple Watch, Apple TV, or HomePod.
When using Security Keys, a trusted device or Security Key is required to sign in with your Apple ID on a new device or on the web, reset your Apple ID password, unlock your Apple ID, add additional Security Keys, or remove a Security Key.
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“Keep 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 another key at work. If you’re traveling, you may want to leave one of your security keys at home,” advises Apple.
Apple first announced Apple ID Security Keys in December, along with two other advanced security features.