When Wired journalist Mat Honan had his Mac, iPhone and iPad wiped last year, it wasn’t because of a virus or Trojan or even because his devices were stolen. Hackers did this by gaining access to his Google accounts and Apple IDs and initiating a remote wipe using the Find My iPhone/Find my Mac features of iCloud.
Fortunately, protecting yourself from this is easier than you might think thanks to a security protocol known as two-step authentication. Two-step authentication works by asking you to enter your usual password then sending you a text message to your mobile phone with a passcode to enter. It works in a similar way to Chip and PIN, which relies on something you have and something you know to keep you secure.
Two-step authentication has been around with Google for some time but was only recently introduced for Apple IDs. We’ve detailed how to set this up in the six steps below (the process is fairly similar for Google accounts, too).
Step-by-step Set up of iCloud two-step authentication for keeping your Mac safe online
1. Password and Security
Head to My Apple ID, sign in with your Apple/iCloud ID and click on Password and Security. From here, you should see an option to set up two step authentication. Click on this to continue.
2. Check the info
For those uninitiated with two-step authentication, a quick run-down of the benefits of the system are displayed. Be sure to read all of this and check out the FAQ link, if needs be.
3. Heed the warning
You’ll soon be presented with a recovery key, but before that, there’s some information about it to take in. Essentially, it’s important to keep the recovery key safe in case you forget your password.
4. Verify your identity
If you haven’t set up security questions for your Apple or iCloud ID, you’ll be asked to verify the card details associated with your account. Type these in and hit Continue to receive your recovery key.
5. Add your devices
You’ll then need to add any devices you have which can receive the passcode for two-step authentication. These may already exist if they’re linked with your account. Add, then click Continue.
6. Save that key
With everything else set up, you’ll be presented with your recovery key. Print this off and keep it in a safe place. You can also print multiple copies; keeping one at home and one at work is a good idea.
STAYING SECURE ON PUBLIC WI-FI NETWORKS
When you’re using a public Wi-Fi connection (in an airport or cafe, for example) you’re immediately more susceptible to being hacked and your data being stolen by nearby hackers or anyone who likes to snoop around. Stopping this from happening, though, is fairly easy. Ensuring that your firewall is turned on, using a secure connection on websites when you enter personal details (the web address should start with https://…) and turning off your Wi-Fi connection when it’s not in use are all essential ways of staying secure.