APPLE ID - THE KEYS TO YOUR UNIVERSE
Your Apple ID unlocks your entire iUniverse... From your iPhone to the iCloud, it controls email, your contacts, Apple store purchases, iTunes and more. Getting locked out can put a serious hamper on your digital freedoms.
The two main reasons you might have problems logging in are:
1. You just forgot your password - usually because you haven't used it in so long.
2. Your account has been compromised and the hacker(s) changed your password.
Either way, if you enter too many wrong guesses, you will see alerts that say:
- “This Apple ID has been disabled for security reasons”
- "You can't sign in because your account was disabled for security reasons"
- "This Apple ID has been locked for security reasons"
It is always easier to just change/recover your password BEFORE you get to this point by going to iforgot.apple.com, but that doesn't mean you're free to go. Keep in mind that "after you change your password, you might need to update it in your iCloud settings and in any Apple services that you sign in to with your Apple ID."
HOW MANY GUESSES IS TOO MANY?
When asked how many failed attempts users have before their account is locked, Apple's official answer is "3 to 5," although even that is not verified. This is for security reasons, but of course it's still a pain for people who are just trying to download some music from iTunes. If your Apple password is not working or you've forgotten it, we suggest that you NEVER try to guess more than 3 times or you could go to what we like to call "iJail."
APPLE'S HARSH SENTENCING PRACTICES
If you get locked out and happen to remember your password later, you can try logging in again after 8 hours. Otherwise, follow instructions for password recovery/reset found at iforgot.apple.com. But you're not ready to pass "Go" just yet...
According to Apple, "After multiple unsuccessful attempts to unlock your account, your Apple ID will remain locked and you can try again the next day." In other words, you get to enjoy a 24-hour stint in iJail.
It gets pretty complicated if you have trouble verifying your account during the password recovery process. In theory, as long as you have answers to your security questions or access to your primary or recovery emails, you should be ok, but not necessarily. Some clients have been locked out of their account even with access to their email and after verifying everything on the phone with Apple support. In some cases, users are incarcerated behind virtual bars for up to 2 weeks!
Since hacker's goals are primarily to disrupt and steal, Apple is essentially rewarding hackers by not allowing a clear and immediate route for their paying customers to reactivate their account.
AVOIDING THE PROBLEM
The best way to make sure criminals are not able to access your account in the first place is to use a 2-step authentication process whenever possible. Connect an SMS phone. Know all your security questions. Keep a secure paper file on hand with all your pertinent information as it relates to your various log-ins: correct back up email, pin numbers, and so forth. IMPORTANT NOTE - if you do elect to keep a hard paper copy, treat it like cash and keep it in a fire safe security lock box. Doing these simple things now can and will save you a ton of hassle from the Apple man in the future. In terms of digital security, an ounce of prevention really is worth a pound of cure.
Click here to learn about 2-factor authentication, a simple method for protecting your IT life.