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Apple iOS 10.3 beta gets pushy with iCloud two-factor authentication

Apple strives to make its devices more secure for the enterprise, but its latest effort leaves things completely up to users.

Users of the Apple iOS 10.3 beta are receiving push notifications asking them to turn on two-factor authentication to protect their iCloud and Apple ID accounts.

It’s a little more persistent than typical notifications. When it appears on the lock screen, it doesn’t go away when the user unlocks the device, and they have to manually exit out of the notification to make it disappear. There is also a warning at the top of the Settings app that asks users to turn on iCloud two-factor authentication if they haven’t already done so.

“Two-factor authentication is a growing trend and is something that most users — especially business users — should be enabling these days,” said Jack Gold, principal analyst and founder of J. Gold Associates, a mobile analyst firm in Northborough, Mass. “It’s too easy to lose your identity and passwords.”

Two-factor authentication aims to protect a user’s account even if someone learns their password. After a user punches in their password, they must also enter additional information, such as a code that they receive via text or email.

Businesses might like Apple’s aggressive attempt to get users to enable iCloud two-factor authentication, because it adds another layer of security to devices that may store or access corporate content. A common problem for businesses that don’t use enterprise mobility management is that they can’t prevent the automatic syncing of corporate data to iCloud and other consumer file-sharing services. Two-factor authentication won’t stop this syncing, but it does provide additional protection of any content stored in iCloud.

Users typically don’t like two-factor authentication, however, because it requires them to take more steps to access their apps and data.

“If it’s burdensome, people will try to work around it,” Gold said.

The iCloud two-factor authentication reminders are expected to be part of the general iOS 10.3 release, rumored to be this month. The website 9to5Mac first reported about the push notifications.