The most secure approach to lock down your online accounts is with hardware security keys. But not everyone can use them.
Apple now offers hardware security keys, a physical login method that provides the highest level of security against hackers, identity thieves, and snoops, to safeguard your Apple ID and iCloud account.
When you’re logging on to a device or into an account, hardware security keys are tiny physical devices that communicate via USB, Lightning, or NFC ports or wireless data connections. They work well to block hackers attempting to access your account remotely since you need to have the keys in your hands to utilize Apple released instructions for using security keys with iPhones, iPads, and Macs on Tuesday after iOS 16.3 and MacOS 13.2 added support for the keys on Monday. The business needs that you programmed at least two keys. Additionally, they can foil phishing attempts that aim to trick you into entering your password on a false website because they won’t function on bogus login sites.
The action comes after major tech giants like Google, Microsoft, Twitter, and Facebook parent Meta supported hardware security keys.
Apple has been tightening up security recently after being hurt by iPhone hacks utilizing the Pegasus spyware from NSO Group. Data stored and synced with iCloud now have a stronger encryption option thanks to Apple’s Advanced Data Protection feature, which debuted in December. Apple also implemented an iPhone Lockdown Mode in September, which adds new controls to the way your phone operates to fend off outside attacks.
The Advanced Data Protection programmed and hardware security keys improve the level of account lockdown, but they also prevent Apple from assisting you in regaining access.
Apple stated in a statement that “this functionality is meant for individuals who, frequently owing to their public profile, face concerted threats to their online accounts, such as celebrities, journalists, and members of government.” This strengthens the security of our two-factor authentication by making it impossible for even highly skilled hackers to gain a user’s second factor through phishing.
Industry tightens login security
The technique is a part of a tightening of authentication standards across the board. The vulnerabilities of conventional passwords have been exposed by thousands of data breaches, and hackers may now defeat two-factor authentication methods such security codes received via text message. Even in the face of significant breaches, such as hackers accessing the password manager files of LastPass users, hardware security keys and a different strategy known as passkeys provide comfort.
The Fast Identity Online, or FIDO, group has helped standardize the technology and integrate its use with websites and apps, even though hardware security keys have been around for a while. They’re tied to specific websites, like Facebook or Twitter, which has the advantage of preventing phishing attacks that try to trick you into logging in to phone websites. Additionally, they serve as the basis for Google’s Advanced Protection Program for users who demand the highest level of protection.
For your devices, you must select the appropriate hardware security keys. A key that supports USB-C and NFC is a solid choice for interacting with relatively recent models of both Macs and iPhones. Apple mandates that you have two keys, but it is a good idea to have extras just in case. Many various devices and services, including your Apple, Google, and Microsoft accounts, can be authenticated with a single key.
The leading manufacturer of hardware security keys, Kubica, unveiled on Tuesday two new consumer-friendly Subkey variants that are FIDO-certified. Both models support NFC, but the $29 model has a USB-C connector while the $25 model has a USB-A connector of a different generation.
Another FIDO authentication method called passkeys is being supported by Google, Microsoft, Apple, and other friends. Passkeys are intended to completely replace passwords and don’t need hardware security keys.