Apple’s Doing The Two-Step

I wanted to let you know about Apple’s new two-step verification process and give you my recommendation regarding it.

Recommendation: Activate it.

Two-step verification is a security method that has become popular over the past few years as passwords, pass phrases, and security questions have become increasingly less secure.

Two-step verification works (in any context) by asking you to register a list of authorized devices to which Apple can send a verification code when your account is accessed from a new device. In my case, I’ve registered my iPhone, iPad, Macbook, and a trusted friend’s SMS-enabled cell phone.

The first time I (or anyone!!!) tries to make a purchase via the iTunes stores, iBook, etc. or tries to change my Apple account settings from a previously unknown device, Apple will first send a verification code to one of my trusted devices (other than the one trying to make the purchase/change). I’ll have to enter that code in order to complete the transaction.

Example: if I buy a new Macbook and try to buy a song in iTunes from that new device, Apple will first send a verification code to my iPhone or iPad or friend’s phone (you choose which device receives the verification code when you try to make the purchase of the song). I’ll then have to enter that code on the new Macbook before it will be allowed to use my Apple account.

This prevents anyone anywhere from trying to access my account, since they’re unlikely to have 2 of my devices in their possession.

I added a trusted friend’s phone to my authorized devices list just in case I don’t have two of my devices with me; there’s a backup person I can contact who can read the code sent to their phone to me, should the need arise. It’s like giving someone a spare car key.

Apple has provided a FAQ with steps to take to activate 2-step verification at

http://support.apple.com/kb/HT5570

Some of the warnings as you setup two-step verification are daunting (“This will be the ONLY way you can access your Apple Account… Apple will NOT be able to reset your password for you…”). Generally, this is all for the best… it means that no one ELSE will be able to reset your password, either!. Just be sure you have a backup person (friend, spouse, child/parent)’s device authorized, too.

In order to do that:

  • you’ll provide your friend/spouse/child/parent’s telephone number to Apple during the setup process.
  • Apple will immediately send a 4-digit code to that person’s phone.
  • you’ll be left looking at a screen on your computer asking you to type in that verification code, so…
  • your friend/spouse/child/parent will need to forward that 4 digit code to you right away so you can type it in.

Additionally, during the setup process Apple provides you with a “RECOVERY KEY” that you’re encouraged to print out or write down and then keep in a safe place (fire proof box, safety deposit box, etc). This is your last ditch method of resetting your account password, should all of your trusted devices be lost or destroyed at the same time.

If you have questions, check in with your nearest Apple store.

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