How to Use Your iPhone to Know if Someone Stole your Passwords Online?

It involves iCloud Keychain's new "Security Recommendations" feature on iOS 14.

Security Recommendations

Stealing is not what it used to be a decade ago. Not all thieves try to break into your house at night or when there’s no one at home to steal your precious valuables. Haven’t you heard? “Data is the new oil,” and quite possibly, also the new gold.

Thieves steal information online and unlike the missing stuff from your home, you don’t even realize that you were a target, until it might be too late. And many of us don’t even pay any heed to the news of any data breach when we hear it. The reason being, we are just not aware of the consequences a data breach can have.

But the truth is, data breaches are becoming increasingly frequent. There’s always news of a new site admitting to a data breach. Data breaches can include any sensitive information, including but not limited to, passwords, names, account numbers, home addresses, etc.

Your password getting exposed is quite serious. Today, at a time when there are hundreds of passwords to remember, many use the same password across different platforms. It is a terrible practice despite being widespread.

Now, the data breach might have occurred for a site you believe is harmless, and you paid no heed. But what if you reused the same password for some other account, this one containing access to more sensitive information? Yep, that’s when you’re in a puddle.

With iOS 14, your iPhone can now help you know whether your password has been exposed in a data breach even if it had been for an external platform or service. iOS 14 will also ship with other wonderful features like CarKey, App Clips, etc..

How does iOS 14 increase Password Security on your iPhone?

Apple uses iCloud Keychain to store your passwords. That’s no news. But this year, iCloud Keychain is getting revamped to bring even more security to your passwords. iCloud Keychain now has a new feature, dubbed “Security Recommendations.”

iCloud Keychain
iCloud Keychain. Source: Apple

Security Recommendations show all of your passwords that are at a risk and urges you to change them. Risky passwords include any passwords you have reused, or that are easy to guess, and most importantly, passwords that have appeared in a security breach online.

Some semblance of password security was also present before iOS 14, where you would be informed about any duplicate or easily guessed passwords by iCloud Keychain. But the truth is, this information wasn’t as prominently delivered as it is now. Instead, it was buried deep and you had to open each password to see it. But now, it’s the first thing you’ll see whenever you go to Password settings.

But the best part about this makeover iCloud Keychain has gotten has to be the ability to inform you of a security breach. Now, Apple including security recommendations isn’t exactly revolutionary or innovative.

The truth is, it has been around for quite some time now. You could use an online service like Haveibeenpwned to check whether there was a data compromise. Google too, included ‘Password Checkup‘ to their platform last year.

It all boils down to accessibility. Apple adding password security makes it really easy for the people who otherwise don’t give a damn about their security to stay informed about such data breaches across all their Apple devices.

How to access Security Recommendations in iOS 14?

  • Go to the Settings app on your iPhone.
  • Scroll down and tap on Passwords.
  • Verify using Face ID to open Passwords.
  • Finally, tap on Security Recommendations.

Go through the list of passwords at risk. If your password has been breached, your iPhone will say that “This password has appeared in a data breach, which puts this account at high risk of compromise.

You should change your password immediately.” You can then even change the password by clicking on ‘Change Password on Website’ and Safari will open the site for you.

The option for Security Recommendations will not appear if and when there are no passwords at risk.

Final Thoughts

Apple bringing security recommendations to iCloud Keychain might not be something out-of-the-box, but it is good to have an in-house password manager that informs me of the data breaches. I, personally, love it as it has already identified so many potentially risky passwords which otherwise would have completely missed my attention.

And I am all for bringing pivotal features to a platform and believe they are just as important, if not more, than the innovative ones as a device cannot stay long in the industry by only focusing on bringing original ideas to the table and ignore fundamental ones.