iOS 16 has arrived with a whole host of new features for the iPhone. While many of these features focus on aesthetics and productivity, one of the most important features has flown under the radar. Apple has now introduced passkeys for logging into your accounts.
Passkeys are not touted as an alternative to passwords. Rather, Apple is pushing them as a replacement for passwords. They are supposed to be safer, with your passkey stored on your devices and in the cloud, and inaccessible in any other way.
But are passkeys really safer than passwords? What if your device which holds all your passkeys is stolen? Financially, your renters insurance policy will protect you if your iPhone is stolen, but your data is at risk. With access to your device, a thief could get into every single one of your accounts.
The good news is that Apple seems to know what they are doing here. Passkeys have been praised by security experts as something that will significantly increase online security.
Here is why passkeys are safer than passwords.
Most passwords are easy to hack
For almost as long as passwords have existed, they have been relatively easy to hack. This is not just because there are a number of common passwords used over and over again by people around the world. Software can crack most passwords in a relatively short amount of time.
The fact is that humans create passwords that are memorable to them. These are not long, complex passwords, and a program trying one password after another can get there quickly even if you use numbers in place of some letters.
Software developers have been trying to solve this problem for a long time. Two-factor authentication is the strongest protection, but even that has its faults, and most people do not want to use it.
Passkeys take the burden of your security away from you. You won’t have to worry about being lax with your security any longer.
Humans are easy to hack
Even if you choose a long, complex password recommended by your browser, you are at risk. This is because humans are easy to hack. We all make mistakes, especially when we are busy with something else. These days, we’re almost always multitasking.
Phishing scams catch many smart tech users. They get you to input your login details by presenting a false front. They then use these details to log in to your account remotely.
Passkeys make it impossible to log into your accounts remotely. Therefore, even if you fall for a phishing scam, hackers cannot get into your accounts.
Biometrics and PINs are safe
But what happens if someone gets a hold of your device? A thief could theoretically log into all of your accounts once they have your iPhone, iPad, or Macbook. However, your iPhone and iPad are protected by biometrics or PINs. Thieves will not have access to your fingerprint or face. It is also much easier to create a strong PIN than a strong password.
Furthermore, you do not need to hold out hope that your PIN will never be cracked. Once you realize your device is missing, you can erase it from the Find My iPhone app. Unless the thief manages to figure out your PIN very quickly, they won’t have the chance to log into your accounts.
Changing passkeys is impossible
One of the tricks that hackers use when trying to steal your account is changing your password to something that you don’t know. With passkeys, even if you leave yourself logged in on another person’s device, they cannot simply change your password. The passkey is linked to your iCloud account. Only if they have access to your iCloud are you in danger.
One password is better than many
You are still going to need to use a password occasionally. Your iCloud password will ultimately give you access to your passkeys when you have no access to a device on your own. However, you will be able to create a strong password for iCloud, as it is just one password you need to remember. Also, when using someone else’s device, you will be able to log in through your own device remotely.
Your Macbook also uses a password and you may have to think about choosing one that is stronger than what you’ve had before. It was worth doing this long before passkeys, though.
Passkeys are not foolproof, as nothing in the world can guarantee your online safety. However, they are much stronger and more reliable than passwords. With iOS 16, Apple has started the move away from passwords for good.