Apple’s upcoming iOS 13.3 software update will include a new feature that will help you lock down and secure your important online accounts, should you choose to take advantage of it.
Specifically, Safari in the iOS 13.3 beta now supports physical security keys for two-factor authentication and other measures. Here’s what that means and why you should make use of it when the update officially drops.
✅ iOS 13.3 Security Keys
While Apple actually introduced security key support in the first iOS 13.3 beta, the company included release notes detailing in the feature in the second beta, which was released today.
(If you aren’t familiar, the physical security keys in question are devices that you carry around with you and use for two-factor authentication when logging into accounts.)
iOS 13.3 now supports NFC, USB, and Lightning FIDO2-compliant security keys in Safari, SFSafariView Controller, and ASWebAuthenticationSession using the WebAuthn standard.
They carry a number of benefits over traditional 2FA methods, which we’ll get to below.
The added support also means that the recently debuted YubiKey 5Ci can be used on iPhone and iPad for a wider range of services. Previously, the key was only compatible with certain third-party apps — but not web browsers.
While Safari is specifically named, we can assume that other web browsers like Chrome, Firefox and Brave will also get support.
While the company says that support will be limited to devices with “the necessary hardware,” it isn’t clear at this point what those limitations might be.
✅ Why You Should Use 2FA Keys
It may seem like an additional hassle to carry around a small USB drive-like device to log into your accounts. But depending on how you use them, they can be quicker and more secure than other 2FA methods.
For one, all you need to do is plug one of these keys into your device to instantly authenticate. (This is in addition to your password, as the physical key serves as your second factor.)
A physical key is one of the best defenses against data breaches and phishing attacks.
Even if someone has your login credentials, they will not be able to get into your accounts without the physical key.
That’s especially important to counter tactics like SIM-jacking, in which an attacker social engineers your carrier representatives to get a new SIM card with your number sent to them.
✅ What Are Good Security Key Options?
When it comes to good options, we highly recommend the industry standard YubiKeys made by Yubico.
- The aforementioned YubiKey 5Ci has both a Lightning and USB-C adapter for authentication on your Mac, iPad and iPhone devices.
- You can also pick up a YubiKey 5C Nano, which only has a USB-C adapter but is a lot smaller. Note that we may earn a commission from products purchased using our links.
What Else Is New in iOS 13.3?
While the physical key support is a major boon for security, iOS 13.3 is itself a fairly minor update. Primarily, it introduces new Communication Limits in Screen Time, as well as smaller UI changes and bug fixes.
It’s not clear when iOS 13.3 will debut for everyone, but it’s currently on its second developer beta version. A public beta version is likely coming in the next couple of days.