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Apple has finally rolled out 2-step verification worldwide, so secure your Apple ID by enabling it right now. The security feature also known as 2-factor authentication uses two forms of ID – something you know and something you have in your possession (like your iPhone) – to prove your identity before granting access to your account.
Those with an Apple account will know how valuable it is to them. Aside from the fact that your personal details and credit card information is in there, access to your account means access to your music, movies, TV shows, and apps too. Lose your account and you could lose everything, which is pretty devastating – just read Wired reporter Mat Honan’s account of how it happened to him, to know what it would be like.
2-step verification relies on codes which are either delivered to a device or in some instances verified using the Google Authenticator app. This makes your logins much stronger because a hacker would need access to these codes when logging in, which change every 30 seconds or so. Keep your phone close by and put a passcode lock on the phone itself, and the verification process should remain secure.
One other thing I want to mention before we go any further – at frequent intervals, you may think to yourself that 2-step verification is a pain in the @&%, and you will be tempted to switch it off for an easier life. Don’t do this! Yes it may be a pain to look up the numbers, but you can rest easy knowing that your accounts are secure – and you should enable it for every service out there that’s dear to you.
Here’s how to switch it on to protect your Apple ID.
1) Sign In & Answer Security Questions
First thing you will need to do is sign into your Apple account at appleid.apple.com. Do not sign into iCloud, that is something completely separate. I should know – I spent a while fruitlessly looking through iCloud for the security option.
Next click on the Password & Security tab on the left-hand side. You will be prompted to answer your security questions (which you should hopefully know the answers to) which will advance you to the main security menu.
At the top of the page, you will see the 2-step section along with a link to Get Started….
2) Understand The 2-Step Process
First you will see a graphic explaining in three easy steps how the whole thing works. When you think you understand this (which is pretty straightforward), click Continue.
Next, you’ll see a small box detailing three advantages of turning 2-Step on. Read it then click Continue, do not pass go, do not collect $200.
Finally, before you set the whole shebang up, you get three warnings from Apple about turning 2-step on. Please read this. You need to know this.
Finally we are ready to switch Skynet on. Hold onto your hats.
3) Set Up Your Trusted Devices
To set this up, you need a smartphone. Enter the phone number, including the correct country code. This is important because you will now get a SMS from Apple with a four-digit number.
When it arrives, enter it in the boxes provided, and click Verify. All going well, it should take you to the next level.
Your phone number should appear as Verified at the top of the page. If it is, then good. This will be the number that all Apple 2-Step numbers will go to. You can also add additional iOS devices like iPhones and iPads in this step by clicking Verify next to the device of your choosing.
4) Print or Save Your Recovery Key!
Apple recognizes that there may be times when you are don’t have access to your phone number or another device to verify your identity. In case of such an event you will be given a “recovery key” which will restore access to your account. You must either print this number, save it in your password locker or write it down. Write it down right now.
In the next step, it decides to test you by telling you to enter the recovery key, just to see if you really do have a record of it.
5) Enable 2-Step Verification
Before you click the final button, Apple gives you one last chance to back out and reminds you about the risks involved. I love how during this whole process, Apple is almost trying to change your mind, as if you are going to unleash a dragon. But you’re not, just better security!
At last, it’s time to switch it on. So put the suspense music on and click that Enable two-step Verification button!
And it’s done. Wipe the sweat from your brow. You did a good job. Oh and one other thing – what’s your recovery key? Better hope you’ve got it written down somewhere safely!
Don’t Get Locked Out
One last thing I wanted to share with you: I originally intended to write this article last week and I switched off 2-step verification with the intention of switching it on again to go over the process and take screenshots. However, when I tried to start the process of switching it back on, it told me that as a security measure, I would have to wait three days. Because according to Apple, I “might not be the same Mark O’Neill” (there’s two copies of perfection out there?).
So heed that warning: if you switch 2-step off for any reason, you are likely to get locked out of your Apple account for a few days as “a security measure”.
Do you have 2-step verification enabled on your Apple account yet? Ever been locked out? Share your security story below!