New iOS option makes it very difficult for someone to hack into your iCloud

New iOS option makes it very difficult for someone to hack into your iCloud

New iOS option makes it very difficult for someone to hack into your iCloud

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Apple now lets you protect your Apple ID and iCloud account with hardware security keys, an important upgrade for those who want maximum protection from hackers, identity thieves, or snoopers.

Hardware security keys are small physical devices that communicate with USB or Lightning ports or with NFC wireless data connections when you log in to a device or account. Because you must have keys in your possession to use them, they are effective in thwarting hackers trying to access your account remotely.

Key support arrived Monday with iOS 16.3 and macOS 13.2, and on Tuesday Apple released details about using security keys with iPhones, iPads, and Macs. The company requires you to configure at least two keys.

Apple has been scrambling to tighten security in recent months, stung by iPhone breaches involving NSO Group Pegasus Spyware. Apple’s advanced data protection option arrived in December, providing a stronger encryption option to data stored and synced with iCloud. And in September, Apple added a iPhone lock mode which includes new security barriers on the operation of your phone to thwart outside attacks.

One big caveat, though: while the hardware security keys and advanced data protection program lock down your account better, they also mean Apple can’t help you regain access.

“This feature is designed for users who, often due to their public profile, face concerted threats to their online accounts, such as celebrities, journalists, and government officials,” Apple said in a statement. . “This takes our two-factor authentication one step further, preventing even an advanced attacker from obtaining a user’s second factor in a phishing scam.”

Hardware security keys have been around for years, but the Fast Identity Online, or FIDO, group has helped standardize the technology and bring its use to websites and apps. A big advantage on the web is that they link to specific websites, for example Facebook or Twitter, so they thwart phishing attacks that try to trick you into logging into fake websites. They also form the basis of Google’s Advanced Protection program, for those who want maximum security.

Apple added support for hardware security keys to iOS 16.2 and macOS 13.2.

Screenshot by Stephen Shankland/CNET

You need to choose the right hardware security keys for your devices. To communicate with relatively new models of Mac and iPhone, a key that supports USB-C and NFC is a good option. Apple requires you to have two keys, but it’s not a bad idea to have more in case you lose them. A single key can be used to authenticate to many different devices and services, such as your Apple, Google, and Microsoft accounts.

Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Yubico, the leading manufacturer of hardware security keys, announced Tuesday two new FIDO-certified YubiKey models in its series of consumer-friendly security keys. They both support NFC, but the $29 model has a USB-C connector and the $25 model has an older-style USB-A connector.

Google, Microsoft, Apple and other allies are also working to support another FIDO authentication technology called security keys. Security keys are designed to replace passwords that’s right, and they don’t require hardware security keys.


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