Apple’s two-factor authentication is similar to its two-step authentication. But the way they secure your Apple ID is slightly different.
According to Apple:
“Two-step verification is a security feature for Apple ID that’s designed to prevent anyone else from controversy or using your account, even if they know your password.”
“Two-factor authentication is an extra layer of security for your Apple ID designed to ensure that you’re the only person who can access your account, even if someone knows your password.”
Let’s learn more about the differences between two-factor authentication and two-step authentication.
How to enable them?
To turn on two-step verification, you need to go to your Apple ID account page. You need to register one or more trusted devices when you enable two-step verification. During registration, each device will receive a verification code. All these trusted devices should also use Find My iPhone or SMS.
While two-factor authentication is only available when you are using iOS 9 or later or OS X El Capitan or later. You should enable it on an iOS or macOS device on which you have logged in with your Apple ID. And it would be much easier to set trusted devices because all devices that have logged in to iCloud will be automatically registered as trusted devices.
How do they work?
When logging into your Apple ID on an untrusted device or browser, both security methods will request an additional verification code to verify your identity.
After entering your Apple ID account and password, you will be asked to select a trusted device or phone number to receive a 4-digit verification code if you use two-step verification.
If you use two-factor authentication, you will get login alerts on all your trusted devices. And you can also choose a trusted phone number to receive the verification code.
Unlike two-step verification, the verification code will be extended from 4 digits to 6 digits and the login alert will show you the approximate location of this untrusted device. Besides, you can choose whether to allow the login attempt on any new devices. When you click on “Allow”, a 6-digit verification code will be automatically displayed on the device. If someone else is trying to sign in to your Apple ID on other devices, you can tap “Don’t Allow” to reject the login attempt. Once you make a choice on one device, the login alerts on other trusted devices will automatically disappear.
Only iOS devices can receive a verification code when you turn on two-step verification. You might get problems with your login when the trusted devices are offline because you can’t receive a verification code for two-step verification.
Both iOS and macOS can receive the verification code when you use two-factor authentication. You can still get a two-factor authentication verification code even if your trusted devices are offline, greatly improving your user experience.
What if you forgot your password?
To log in to your Apple ID for which you enabled two-step verification, you have to get two of the three things: password, recovery key or a trusted device. When you forgot your password, you can use a recovery key and trusted device to regain access to your Apple ID.
When you use two-factor authentication, you will not be able to access your Apple ID with a recovery key if you forget the password. Instead, you will regain access to your Apple ID via account recovery. You can provide as detailed information as possible to shorten the waiting time.
To draw a conclusion, you’d better turn on two-factor authentication if it is available to you. Besides, we strongly recommend you secure your device with a reliable VPN.