Skip to main content

Turn On 2FA To Improve iCloud Security

Apple's denial that celebrity user's iCloud accounts were hacked in order to acquire explicit photos currently circulating on the internet does little to reduce concerns about how security is being managed by the cloud providers.

Yesterday I mentioned two things that you should do to guard against brute force attacks - something which I'm told Apple has not fully mitigated yet - and password concurrency. To wit: longer passwords and different passwords across different services.

There remains one further weakness that exploits a systemic failure in almost all internet services password management services: security questions.

For me this is particularly relevant at the moment, as I'm currently trying to dissuade a large enterprise organisation from implementing remote access using security questions (AKA Challenge / Response) for 18,000 of it's users.

The problem for these internet services is that coming up with a selection of questions which are unique, memorable and universal is very hard indeed. And of course most of the information that can be legitimately considered suitable for a challenge / response solution is discoverable through simple social engineering.

Fortunately more and more services are implementing two-factor authentication (2FA). This is based on having two 'keys' to your account, one that you know and one that you possess. Without both you don't get access.

Foremost amongst implementers of this measure have been the banks. For them security is of paramount importance. And where the banks lead other services should follow.

Google has a particularly good 2FA system, which requires you to enter a token sent via SMS to your phone before allowing access to your account on a device. For your secure devices you can choose to bypass this code once you've logged on, but any new device attempting to access your Google account requires verification. In terms of notifying you of unauthorised access to your account this is as good as it gets. There is a bit of user friction when first turned on, especially if you use Google services on devices which aren't Android or iOS, but it's worth that hassle, so turn it on.

Apple also has a 2FA solution, although it works slightly differently. In this case the second factor is only required if you request a password reset. In terms of preventing the sort of social engineering attacks which the alternative challenge / response system invites this is a major improvement. It isn't a complete solution in the same way that Google's is, but it does offer a much improved level of protection. If you have iCloud you should implement it immediately.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

F1: Robert Kubica Impresses In Renault Test Run

The car may be old but its the performance of the driver that's the story here. Robert Kubica returned to F1, after a fashion, earlier this week with an extensive test run in a 2012 Lotus Renault F1 car at Valencia.
The age of the car and the circuit were likely determined by F1's current rules which ban testing, but the reason for Kubica being in the car is far more interesting. Considered by many to be a potential World Champion and certainly one of the fastest drivers of his generation, Kubica's F1 career seemed to be over after a 2011 crash whilst driving in the Rally of Andora. His Skoda Fabia was penetrated by a guardrail in the high speed accident partially severing his right arm.
Up until last year Kubica has been competing in rallying, with the expectation that the limited movement in his repaired arm would prohibit a return to single seater racing.
So this week's test is both interesting and confusing. Interesting because Kubica completed 115 laps of the ret…

Panos Panay's Defence Of Microsoft Surface Hardware Sounds Eerily Familiar

This weekend I went out with my ten year old daughter to select a laptop for her school year beginning in January. The schools requirements are quite specific, requiring a Windows 10 device, with a preference for a touchscreen and a stylus. She chose a Surface Pro, after trying a large number of different options. Having seen the way I use my own Surface Pro - and tried it herself there was only ever going to be two options - and the other was a Surface Laptop.
I tell you this so that you understand I am a buyer of Microsoft's products through choice, not compulsion. I'm on my third Surface device now. 
So when Panos Panay dismissed reports of the death of the Surface hardware line, I was very interested to see exactly how strong these denials were. Especially how they reflect what has gone before. To whit: Windows 10 Mobile.
Panay claimed that Microsoft is in hardware for the long haul. Almost exactly mirroring the words of Terry Myerson, when he claimed Windows Mobile was g…

WhartonBrooks Indiegogo Windows 10 Mobile Even More Doomed To Failure Than Usual

WhartonBrooks is currently crowd-funding its latest Windows Mobile smartphone on Indiegogo. If crowdfunding isn't already a bad enough idea, a company trying to crowdfund a Windows Mobile device should be warning enough for you.
Not that anyone seems to be taking the project too seriously. With a few weeks left to run the campaign has managed to ensnare just 2% of its $1.1m target.
If you want a better indication of how few Window Mobile loyalists remain I doubt there is one. Of 3,900 Windows Phone enthusiasts Wharton Brooks was seeking for its new phone, it has managed to entice just 50.
Windows for Phones is dead, even if the corpse hasn't stopped twitching yet.