About iCloud Keychain – Part 1

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“I don’t know my password.”

“I use the same password for everything.”

Rarely do I hear of people in the middle of those two extremes. Rarely do I meet someone who doesn’t have this struggle. It bothers me that, in these days of multi-million dollar corporation hacking and identity theft, people are not more intentional about safeguarding their lives by having a more solid method of creating and storing passwords.

I want to help you gain some peace of mind and show you how I manage my online account privacy across all of my devices. (Note that I use only Apple devices and will be showing you iCloud’s Keychain method.)

icloud-keychain-header

Credit: Apple

iCloud Keychain is an attempt by Apple to master the art of securely storing your passwords, online account information and credit/debit cards across all of your Apple devices. In order to do this, and as its name suggests, the service is powered by iCloud which is designed to keep Mail, Contacts, Calendars, Photos and much more in one place to make managing your life so much easier.

Here’s the caveat. Like the example at the beginning of this post, it’s very rare to find someone who exclusively uses one company’s service offerings, whether due to convenience or brand loyalty. In my case, it’s both. Let’s use my wife as an example:

She works in real estate and uses a MacBook Air and an iPhone 6 Plus. For work, she uses the GMAIL app and Google Calendar app, alongside Microsoft Office 365 Suite. For personal use and because of my heavy influence, she uses Apple Mail, Apple Calendar, Contacts and Reminders. In part 2 of this post, I’ll show you screenshots of our setup with insight on how you can be more organized in your digital life.

The real purpose of this post is to educate you on why I believe it is so critical to spend the time to get this right. I had a client once who was having some computer issues which required me to access a few of her online accounts. She handed me an index card with web addresses, usernames and passwords (abbreviated and/or using special ch@r@ct3r$ to deter someone from decrypting the actual password, I guess?) index_card

Anyway, she’s awesome and I don’t fault her. So many people do this type of thing and may never get hacked. But, I’ll bet you know someone who has had to cancel a credit card or something because of compromised information, right?

It’s likely going to take some focused intensity and a few hours behind the computer if you’re serious about getting your information secured. So let’s get started, shall we?

On your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch with iOS 7.0.3 and later:

  1. Tap Settings>iCloud.
  2. Turn Keychain on.
  3. Follow the onscreen instructions.

On your Mac with OS X Mavericks 10.9 and later:

  1. Choose Apple () menu>System Preferences, then click iCloud.
  2. Select Keychain. If you want to, you can set a passcode to unlock your screen after sleep or after the screen saver begins.
  3. Enter your Apple ID and password.
  4. Follow the onscreen instructions.

If you plan to use iCloud Keychain on all Apple devices you own, you’ll need to enable the service on each device. In doing so, your other devices will receive a request for the four-digit numeric iCloud security code you were prompted to create on initial setup.

icloud-security-codeAs shown above, this is the security code setup screen on a Mac running macOS Sierra. 

Once you have everything set up, you will be able to start storing passwords and credit card info* in Keychain manually. If you’d rather not spend the time to gather and input every credential you have or want to store, you can choose to do so as you come to it. For example, next time you go to Facebook and enter your email and password, Safari will ask you if you want to store that password in your iCloud Keychain. Choose “Yes” and you’re on your way!

In Part 2, I will break down my own personal Keychain and let you see all of the components in action. In another series of posts, we will explore cross-platform password management and other weird scenarios. If you have a strange situation regarding your password storage and want to talk about it on this blog, leave a comment below and I’ll be in touch with you!

See you next time!

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