February 12, 2017 at 3:46 p.m. PST
Apple strongly encourages users to employ two factor authentication, however, the feature can be bothersome. This article covers how to turn off Apple ID two factor authentication.
Cyber security is a pressing concern these days. It seems that every day there are new exploits and attacks. Politicians blame elections results on hacks. Celebrities have their privacy violated by cyber bandits. I just went through an ordeal trying to order some supplements online, thanks to overzealous security measures. I spent three hours on the phone and had to conference in the vendor and credit card company, just to complete my order. It seems that, due to cyber security concerns, the vendor has taken an almost paranoid approach to credit card transactions.
Apple has also gone a bit too far with cyber security. If you have corporate secrets on your iPhone, perhaps these measures are warranted. After recently upgrading iOS, however, I was bombarded with prompts to enter my Apple ID along with a security code. In the course of 24 hours, I was prompted to authenticate my Apple ID ten times. Enough already!!! I’m not James Bond!
What is Two-Factor Authentication?
Using two methods of verification is known as two factor authentication. Typically, one enters their username and password on one device, and a code is sent to another device. That code is then entered on the first device to confirm it’s you. If I login to the iTunes Store on my Mac, I need to enter a security code that’s sent to my iPhone. For most people, this is overkill. Simply using a strong password and changing it a few times a year is sufficient to thwart hackers.
It is important to note that two factor authentication is different from two-step authentication. The latter was Apple’s previous system for enhanced security. Two factor authentication is better, in that it should only ask for the security code once on a trusted device. The idea is that only a trusted device (your iPhone, iPad, Mac, etc.) can access your account. The two factors are your device and your login credentials.
Do I Need Two Factor Authentication?
Two factor authentication has been around for a long time. Corporate users are quite used to this procedure, as it helps protect corporate secrets. Most banking websites also employ two factor authentication. The average user may also benefit from the security regime. It is far more secure than just entering a username and password. With two factor authentication, if someone should steal your password, they still cannot get into your account. They need to possess one of your trusted devices. They can’t activate one of their own devices without a security code sent to a trusted device. It provides very airtight security.
Even the average user benefits from tighter security. After all, someone could hack into your iTunes account and use it to make purchases. By all means, if you don’t find two factor authentication to be cumbersome, I strongly encourage you to use it.
In my experience, it proved to be maddening. I was sitting at my Mac and decided to login to the App Store. That’s when the recent iOS upgrade on my iPhone came back to haunt me. I entered my correct username and password, yet the authentication failed. The dialog box informed me that I needed to enter a code sent to my iPhone, but it didn’t provide a field. Users are supposed to enter the code in the password field, after their password, but there are no instructions. Indeed, Apple did a horrible job of implementing this on the Mac. Even worse, they made me change my password. This caused a cascade of authentication demands on all of my devices.
I still have these requests popping up after a week. Before I turned off two factor authentication, I would need to run and get my iPhone with each request. Even with the enhanced security turned off, I still continuously get prompted to authenticate. It would seem that Apple has become a bit paranoid about security. It’s to the point where their security measures are totally ruining the user experience. My iPhone has Touch ID, so why are they still asking me for my Apple ID and password, over and over?
In my case, two factor authentication proved to be a nightmare, especially combined with the assault of login requests. Fortunately, you can turn off two factor authentication for your Apple ID. Keep in mind, this will diminish the security of your Apple devices and services. If you have a lot to lose, I highly recommend sticking with two factor authentication.
How to Turn off Two Factor Authentication
Turning off two factor authentication is a fairly simple process. Unfortunately, you cannot turn it off within the Settings app on an iPhone. Users must go to the Apple ID website to deactivate the feature. Fortunately, you can do this on your iPhone. (Not all Apple websites are compatible with the iPhone.)
First, launch a web browser on your iPhone, such as Chrome or Safari. Next, navigate to the Apple ID website. Enter your Apple ID (usually your email address) and password at the prompt and tap on the arrow icon. You will see a small map with your iPhone’s location. Tap on Allow to proceed. (This is two factor authentication in practice, which doesn’t seem to trust the “trusted” device.) You will now see an identification code displayed on your device. Memorize or write down the code, tap OK and enter it on the Apple ID website. Tap Done to continue. An Apple ID account summary screen is displayed. Tap on Security. Scroll down to the bottom of the screen and tap on “Turn Off Two Factor Authentication”. A message pops up informing the user that after turning off two factor authentication, their account will only be protected by security questions. Tap continue. Select and enter three security questions and answers, then tap Next on the upper right corner of the webpage. Confirm your birthdate and email address, then tap Next on the upper right corner of the webpage. You should now see a webpage confirming that two factor authentication has been turned off.
As you can see, even turning off two factor authentication is a complicated process. It also demonstrates that your trusted device is not really trusted after all. This is exactly why I turned off two factor authentication.
After turning off two factor authentication, your Apple ID is still protected by a password. If you forget your password, you will need to answer your security questions, and only then, a temporary password will be sent to your email address. Even with standard security, it is very difficult to steal an Apple ID.
There have been a few high-profile Apple ID compromises with celebrities, but it turned out that they had very simple passwords. If you use a strong password and change it often, it is highly unlikely that your Apple ID will be stolen. Also, some users had their Apple ID stolen, because they used the same email address and password on multiple sites. Although Apple’s servers weren’t hacked, non-Apple servers were. Never use your Apple ID password on any other site, service or app!
I recommend two factor authentication for those who need to protect highly classified information. The feature can also protect unauthorized charges on your Apple ID account. I want to make it clear that turning off two factor authentication will provide less security, but it will also diminish the hassle involved with the feature. It’s a tradeoff. I only recommend disabling the feature if it proves to be bothersome.