Apple’s iOS 16.3 update is coming soon, along with a cool new iPhone security feature everyone should know about. Last month, I reported on how Apple is beefing up iPhone security by allowing the use of keys more widely — something the iPhone maker had already confirmed in an announcement earlier.
It has now emerged that the feature is likely to arrive in iOS 16.3, as it is included in the beta version of the software.
When iOS 16.3 launches, it will include the ability to use Security Keys to protect your Apple ID and iCloud account. This means that from iOS 16.3 on, a physical key such as the Yubico YubiKey can be used as another layer of security.
The new feature will be easy to use once you have the key—9to5Mac reports that once you’ve done One-Time Authentication, you won’t have to do it again when setting up a new iPhone, unless you You use the device-to-device set-up process.
Reasons to use Security Keys in iOS 16.3
There are many reasons to use Security Keys in iOS 16.3—not least because they’re a cool technology that really helps improve iPhone security. In iOS 16.3, Security Keys will replace the passcode sent to your iPhone when you log in to another device.
If you’re not familiar, security keys are a hardware-based token that people use for two-factor authentication. This is the “gold standard” of security on your accounts, consisting of a password and at least one other factor such as a hardware key or biometric such as Face ID or Touch ID.
Two factor authentication using security keys is one of the aims of the FIDO Alliance — of which Apple is a member — a group that wants to eradicate passwords altogether.
Security keys are one of the best ways to authenticate an account, says Jake Moore, global cybersecurity consultant at ESET. He says the physical protection offered by security keys allows people to securely log into their accounts with the confidence of knowing that malicious adversaries will “struggle at large” to compromise them.
“The only downside is that many people still don’t trust or understand the technology,” says Moore.
Security keys are especially important for “high profile or prominent people” such as journalists or politicians, says Moore. “Having confidence in communications is becoming more difficult as cyber criminals become more sophisticated at intercepting messages,” he warned.
Adding Security Keys in iOS 16.3 is simple—go to Settings > Password & Security > Add Security Keys and follow the prompts.
Apple’s iOS 16.3 builds on the features launched in iOS 16.2, including Advanced Data Protection, which sees end-to-end encryption extended to more iCloud categories – such as iCloud Backup, Notes and Photos.
So when will iOS 16.3 arrive? There’s no way to know for sure, but the new iPhone software is on its second beta version, having launched the first beta in mid-December. Obviously, the holidays may have slowed things down a bit, so hopefully we’ll see iOS 16.3 in late February or early March. Keep an eye on my Forbes page for updates.