Security keys Apple recommends for iPhone, iPad, Mac

The major new feature introduced in iOS 16.3 and macOS 13.2 is support for physical security keys. If you want extra security, you’ll need at least two hardware keys, but which key should you choose? Apple’s recommended security keys for iPhone, iPad, and Mac are: That’s right.

Since it started supporting physical security keys for Apple devices, the company hasn’t embarked on creating its own keys. Instead, iPhones, iPads, and Macs are now compatible with his existing FIDO Certified security keys.

If you choose to use a security key for your Apple ID, a hardware key replaces the six-digit 2FA code that’s typically sent to verified devices. This means that this is not suitable for everyone, as you will be taking full responsibility for your account (losing your key can permanently lock you out of your account). However, if you want an extra layer of security for your Apple ID, a physical key can provide that.

Apple-recommended security keys for iPhone, iPad, and Mac

In a supporting document, Apple recommends three specific keys and greenlights others that meet some guidelines.

Important: You need at least two FIDO-certified security keys to activate on your iPhone, iPad, or Mac.

  • YubiKey 5C NFC – $55 each, backordered from Yubico and Amazon (works with most iPhones and Macs via USB-C and NFC)
  • YubiKey 5Ci – $75 each, available from Yubico (works with all iPhones and most Macs via Lightning and USB-C)
  • FEITAN ePass K9 NFC USB-A – $25 each (works with older Macs via USB-A and most iPhones via NFC)

For other recommended security keys, Apple says to make sure they’re FIDO certified and, of course, have connectivity with Apple devices. Here are more affordable options using USB-C and NFC.

Apple says NFC for security keys only works on iPhones (iPhone 6 and newer). USB-C works with most Macs and recent iPads, USB-A works with older Macs (or iPhone/iPad with a Lightning adapter), and Lightning works with iPhones and supported iPads.

Check out my colleague Jeff’s video walkthrough for the setup process.

There are four cases where security keys do not work.

  • I can’t sign in to iCloud for Windows.
  • You can’t sign in to older devices that can’t be updated to a software version that supports security keys.
  • Child accounts and Managed Apple IDs are not supported.
  • Apple Watch paired with a family member’s iPhone is not supported. To use the security key, first set up the clock on your girlfriend’s iPhone.

If you haven’t checked all the requirements, here’s everything Apple says you need to use a security key for your Apple ID.

  • At least two FIDO®-certified security keys that can connect to Apple devices
  • iOS 16.3, iPadOS 16.3, or macOS Ventura 13.2 or later on all devices signed in with an Apple ID
  • Two-factor authentication set up on your Apple ID
  • Latest web browser – If you can’t sign in to the web with your security key, update your browser to the latest version or try a different browser.
  • To sign in to your Apple Watch, Apple TV, or HomePod after setting up Security Keys, you need an iPhone or iPad with a software version that supports Security Keys

Are you planning to use a physical security key with your Apple ID? Share your thoughts in the comments!

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