Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Apple Adds Two-Step Authentication to iMessage and FaceTime

Security of FaceTime & iMessage App

Apple,it is said has made improvement in the security of FaceTime and iMessage, its voice/video together with multimedia chat communication tools and has announced that that it will be adding a two-step authentication to iMessage and FaceTime applications in order to protect the users from hackers of its iPhone, iPad and Mac computers.

This is a security feature which means that a person’s identity is verified in two ways that includes something which the user knows for instance, a password and something which the user is in possession of, a mobile device. If someone intends to use their Apple ID email and password to enable iMessage or FaceTime on a new device, they would have to use a PIN from a reliable device in order to gain access to these services.

The two step authentication had been added to Apple’s iTunes as well as iCloud accounts in March 2013 and the company is presently focusing on extending the security features to FaceTime as well as iMessage. This means that when users use any of these applications, they would have to register a `trusted device’ and when attempts are made to log in FaceTime or iMessage, the user would receive a four digit verification code through SMS or Apple’s Find my iPhone app.

14 Character Recovery Key

The code received needs to be entered along with their password in order to access the application without which i.e. the password and verification code, access will be denied to the said account. According to Apple as mentioned on its support page, the user need not create or remember any security question with the two step verification and the user’s identity is verified by using password (and) verification codes send to trusted devices.

Moreover, the user will also be provided with a 14 character Recovery Key in order to print and keep the same in safe custody should they lose access to their trusted devices or tend to forget their password. This issue came up due to the iCloud accounts of celebrities which were breached by hackers last year, together with nude photos which were leaked online.

Apple was targeted at that time since it had offered the option of two factor authentication for iCloud accounts and this feature is not enabled by default hence several people do not use it.

Added Level of Protection – Difficult to Obtain Private Images

The added level of protection applicable to these service helps to ensure that people would have difficult time in obtaining private images from an iMessage history or pretend to be the user through online communication systems. The two-step is useful when individuals log out of an account on their device and try to log back in which means that the user would have to get the trusted device out if one temporarily tends to disable an account on the device or if one runs a system update or tends to switch SIMs.

Vice President of Security Research at Trend Micro, Rik Ferguson, states that `it is great to see Apple extending its two step authentication to cover more services particularly person-to-person communication services like these which have been widely abused in the past – Facebook, Skype etc.

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