Oct 19, 2015

What’s the difference between Apple’s two-step verification and two-factor verification?

I want to make my Apple ID as secure as possible, but I see two different terms being used for adding additional security measures: two-step verification and two-factor verification. Are these two terms interchangeable, and if not, is one superior to the other?
Two factor and two step verifications are different security mechanisms. Two factor is looking at utilizing two different types of authentication for example a password you memorized and a generated pin on a device you have. This is usually used once on new devices, networks and locations. This security feature is built into iOS 9 and El Capitan. The two step verification for apple is an additional security feature you can sign up for. Every time you sign in you get a new pin sent to one of your devices and you need to enter your password along with the pin to gain access to your account.

Here’s how Apple describes it:
With two-factor authentication, when you enter your Apple ID and password for the first time on a new device, we'll ask you to verify your identity with a six-digit verification code. This code is displayed automatically on your other devices, or sent to a phone number you trust. Just enter the code to sign in and access your account on the new device.
Once signed in, you won’t be asked for a verification code on that device again unless you sign out completely, erase the device, or need to change your password for security reasons. When you sign in on the web, you can choose to trust your browser so you won’t be asked for a verification code the next time you sign in from that computer.

When you set up two-step verification, you register one or more trusted devices. A trusted device is a device you control that can receive 4-digit verification codes using either SMS or Find My iPhone. You're required to provide at least one SMS capable phone number.
Then, any time you sign in to manage your Apple ID at My Apple ID, sign in to iCloud, or make an iTunes, iBooks, or App Store purchase from a new device, you'll need to verify your identity by entering both your password and a 4-digit verification code, as shown below.
After you sign in, you can securely access your account or make purchases as usual. Without both your password and the verification code, access to your account will be denied.

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