On Wednesday, we looked at the built-in password manager provided by Google Smart Lock. Today we will review Apple’s iCloud Keychain. Keychain works automatically with iPhones, iPads, and Macs, and is shared an updated to all your devices automatically. Most of the Apple users I talk to are familiar with Keychain. Keychain works with devices that are using iOS 7.0.3 or later or OS X Mavericks 10.9 or later.
iCloud Keychain stores user names and passwords, your Apple ID, iTunes and iCloud account information, credit card information (except for the CVV), Wi-Fi network passcodes, and credentials for websites that you access using the Safari web browser. It protects your account information for Apple apps such as Mail, Contacts, Calendar, and Messages. It also saves and protects passwords for your social media accounts like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, and others.
When you set up iCloud Keychain, you can create an iCloud Security Code. This can be a six-digit code, a more complex alphanumeric code, or it can generate a random code. The iCloud Security Code is used to authorize additional devices to use your iCloud Keychain. The Security Code must be stored safely, because it’s also used to verify your identity, and without it you will not be able to recover your Keychain if your account is locked or you lose all of your devices. This is to prevent a Mat Honan-style breach where the attacker called Apple and tricked them into resetting his passwords. (This occurred in 2012, and security is better now.)
Keychain passwords are stored in iCloud and are encrypted. It supports two-factor authentication, which I recommend. If you add a new device to your Keychain, one of your existing devices will have to approve the addition. If you are uncomfortable storing all your passwords online in iCloud, you can restrict password storage to your devices only. This would not be something that I would recommend. Apple will not be able to help you recover passwords stored this way.
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