If you’re an Apple user, you definitely have an iCloud account. After all, it is the only way to experience the Apple ecosystem in all its glory. However, lately, iCloud has become one of the favorite targets for hackers. Preventing unauthorized access, and usage of an iCloud account, is exactly why Apple (and every other company) recommends creating a strong password. But passwords can only protect you as long as no one is able to break them. For a normal user, setting a very unpredictable password is not too handy; what if they themselves forget it? That’s why, to increase security of iCloud accounts, Apple allows users to use two factor authentication.
Why Use Two Factor Authentication
Two step authentication, basically adds another layer of security after your password. This is helpful, because it means that even if someone has your password, they still need you to authorize access. On iCloud, this is done by sending an alert to the user’s phone, asking if they want to allow access or not. If they decide to “allow” access, they are then presented with a six digit code. This code must be entered on the machine trying to access iCloud, and only then, will iCloud grant access. So, if you want to enable two step verification for your Apple ID, here is how you can do it:
Enable Two Factor Authentication on iCloud
Before you enable two factor authentication, you should know, that any third-party apps that are using your Apple ID will be logged out, and you will be required to log back in with app-specific passwords for each one of them. I’ll cover that later; first, let’s talk about how to enable two step verification on your Apple ID:
1. Using a Mac
If you have a Mac that is running El Capitan, or later, you can set up two factor authentication for your Apple ID by following the steps given below:
- Go to “System Preferences -> iCloud -> Account Details“.
- You will be asked to enter the password for your iCloud account. Once you’ve done that, you will be taken to the account management page.
- Here, click on the tab that reads “Security”. At the bottom, you will see “Two Factor Authentication“, click on the button that reads “Set Up Two-Factor Authentication“.
- Click on “Continue”, in the dialog box that pops-up.
Simply follow the prompts to set up two factor authentication on your Mac. Now, whenever you, or anyone else tries to log into your iCloud account, you will get a prompt on your Mac, asking if you want to grant access. If you choose yes, you will then be given a six digit passcode that you will have to enter in the other machine, in order to access iCloud. This ensures that even if someone else does have your password, they can’t access your iCloud account, without you knowing about it, and explicitly authorizing it.
2. Using an iPhone
If you have an iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch, running iOS 9 or later, you can use the device to set up two factor verification for your Apple ID, by simply following the steps below:
- On your iPhone, go to “Settings -> iCloud“. Here, tap on your Apple ID.
- Tap on “Password & Security“, and then on “Turn On Two-Factor Authentication“.
Then, you can simply follow the prompts, to set up two factor authentication using your iPhone. This will definitely help prevent unauthorized access to your iCloud account, and anytime someone signs in to your iCloud account, you will be asked to decide whether or not you want to allow access.
Generate App-Specific Passwords
Say you’re using iCloud mail, with your firstname.lastname@example.org ID. When you enable two step authentication on your Apple ID, your iCloud email account will automatically be logged out from your mail client. To sign back in, you can’t use your iCloud password. Since, you enabled two factor authentication, you will have to generate app-specific passwords for all your apps, just to make sure that there aren’t any rogue apps that are accessing your iCloud data, without your knowledge.
To generate app specific passwords on iCloud, simply follow the steps below:
1. On a browser, go to the Apple ID page, and log in with your Apple ID.
2. Scroll down to “Security”, and under “App Specific Passwords“, click on “Generate Password”.
3. You will be asked to enter a label for the app you’re creating the password for. This is just so that you can check what apps you have generated passwords for.
Once you’ve done that, you will see a generated password. You have to use this password to log in to the third party app that you want to authorize.
Use Two Factor Authentication on Your iCloud Account
Using two factor authentication on your iCloud account will definitely make it much more secure. Anyone who tries to access your iCloud account, will not be able to do so, unless you choose to allow them, and then share the six digit verification pin with them, as well. This drastically reduces the chances of someone getting into your iCloud account. However, you should still set a strong password, and change it every now and then.