Apple has now rolled out an optional two-step verification feature for iCloud and Apple ID users, requiring users to verify their identity using one of their devices if they make changes to their account or make a new iTunes, iBooks or App Store purchase from a new device. If enabled, the new verification feature enhances the security of Apple accounts as it incorporates an extra security code which is only sent to a trusted device via SMS or through the Find my iPhone app.
Apple's two-step verification is available in the US, UK, Australia, Ireland, and New Zealand but the company says that additional countries will be added over time.
To enable two-step verification, users can go to the Password and Security tab and choose to enable it. They'll also need to register one or more trusted devices. Following this, a 4-digit verification code is sent via SMS or through the Find my iPhone app, if installed.
After enabling it, users won't need to remember answers to security questions each time they set-up a new device with that ID. Apple also sends a 14-digit Recovery Key for safekeeping which users can use to access their account if they forget their password or lose their device.
The 2-step verification can also be turned off. However, if a user loses his recovery key as well as his trusted devices and password, he'll be locked out of his Apple account.
Also, Apple does not allow two-step verification setup to proceed if the user had recently made any significant changes including reseting his password or selecting new security questions to his account information and puts a waiting period as a security measure.
It's worth pointing out that Google has been offering the option for enabling two-step authentication since 2011.