Both two-factor authentication and two-step authentication require users to enter a verification code to confirm your identity when you log into your Apple ID on a new device. Except that the verification code is not sent via messages, Apple’s two-factor authentication is quite similar to two-step authentication.
Let’s dig into the differences between two-step verification and two-factor authentication.
How do I turn them on?
You must open your Apple ID account page to enable two-step verification. And you will be required to send a verification code a device that uses Find My iPhone or SMS to register a trusted device.
Two-factor authentication is only available on iOS 9 or higher or OS X El Capitan or later. You should turn it on on an iOS or macOS device that you have signed in with your Apple ID. And all devices that have signed in to iCloud will be automatically set as trusted devices if you turn on two-factor authentication for your Apple ID.
How do they work?
Both two-step verification and two-factor authentication confirm your identity by requiring you to fill in a verification code when you sign in to your Apple ID with a new device or browser.
If you use two-step verification, you will be prompted to select a trusted device or trusted phone number to obtain a four-digit verification code after you entered the Apple ID account and password.
Unlike two-step verification, you will receive login notifications on all trusted devices if you use two-factor authentication. The login notification will display the approximate location of this new device. When you click on “Allow” to confirm the login on this new device, you will get a 6-digit verification code which is longer than that for two-step verification on your trusted devices. If it is not you that attempts to log into your account on a new device, you don’t need to be panic. You should deny this login attempt by clicking on “ Don’t Allow”. Once you make a selection on a device, the login notifications on other trusted devices will automatically disappear. You can also select a trusted phone number to receive the verification code.
Last but not least, we recommend you change your Apple ID password as soon as possible.
The verification code for two-step verification can only be sent to iOS devices. Two-step verification doesn’t work when all trusted devices and phone numbers are offline. So, you may get into trouble with your login.
While two-factor authentication allows users to send a verification code to iOS devices as well as Macs. In addition, you can still get a verification code for two-factor authentication even if your trusted devices are offline, which greatly optimizes the user experience.
What to do if you forget your password?
To access your Apple ID, two-step verification requires that you have any two of the three things – password, recovery key and a trusted device. In case you forget your password or lose all the trusted devices, two-step verification generates a 14-character recovery key for you to regain access to your Apple ID. Thus, you should keep the recovery key in a safe place. Otherwise, you could permanently lose access to your Apple ID when you forget your password.
Since two-factor authentication doesn’t give you a recovery key, you can’t regain access to your Apple ID with a recovery key. But you can use account recovery to get your Apple ID back. To get it back as quickly as possible, you need to provide detailed account information.
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.