There’s a new way to give your Apple ID extra protection: with a physical security key. This replaces the six-digit verification code. But what kind of key do you need and how does it work?
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Apple ID security key
To properly protect your Apple ID, you have been able to enable two-factor authentication for a while now. Until recently, this only worked with a six-digit code, which is automatically displayed on one of your trusted Apple devices.
With iOS 16.3, there’s a new way to make your Apple ID even more secure: with a physical security key. This is a device – which often looks like a USB stick – that you use instead of the six-digit code. So it is another form of two-factor authentication.
According to Apple, the feature is designed for people who want extra protection against targeted attacks, such as phishing. Because you need a physical key, it’s almost impossible for malicious parties to remotely access an Apple ID account.
Which security key do I need?
Apple ID security keys work with any FIDO-certified security key. Make sure you need at least two. This is to ensure that you always have a backup if you lose one of the keys.
Good examples are:
When purchasing a security key, pay attention to the connectors. If you have a Mac or recent iPad, you need a USB-C connector. Some of them support NFC (such as the YubiKey 5C NFC) or also have a Lightning connector (such as the YubiKey 5Ci) so you can use them on your iPhone as well.
If you only use the security key for your iPhone, a security key that only works with NFC (wireless) or Lightning will suffice.
How do I add an Apple ID security key?
If you have FIDO-certified security keys (as mentioned, you need two), then do the following to link them to your Apple ID:
- Open the Settings app;
- Tap your name at the top and choose ‘Password and security’;
- Tap “Add Security Keys” and go through the steps.
- Review the devices associated with your Apple ID and optionally choose to remove some.
You can also add such a key on the Mac. There you open System Settings and go to ‘Password and security’. Next to ‘Security keys’, choose ‘Add’ and follow the instructions.