O'Reilly logo

Mac® Security Bible by Joe Kissell

Stay ahead with the world's most comprehensive technology and business learning platform.

With Safari, you learn the way you learn best. Get unlimited access to videos, live online training, learning paths, books, tutorials, and more.

Start Free Trial

No credit card required

6.8. Using Smart Cards, Tokens, and Biometric Authentication Devices

Earlier in this chapter, I described multi-factor authentication, in which you identify yourself based on not only something you know (for example, a password) but also something you have (a physical object with unique characteristics), something you are (a physical feature, such as a fingerprint), or all three. You can implement some types of multi-factor authentication by adding third-party hardware to your Mac, thus adding an extra layer of security to your account password (or other passwords).

Before I describe some of these devices, however, I should mention that hardware-based authentication isn't necessarily multi-factor. For example, the front door of the apartment building in which I live has an electronic lock that can be opened either by typing a code (something I know) or by using an RFID key fob (something I have). Because the lock requires just one method, not both, it's only single-factor security. Similarly, you can install a fingerprint reader on your Mac that lets you authenticate by swiping your finger instead of typing your password, which is a convenience feature but is still single-factor authentication. However, if you configure the reader's software to work only if you type a password and also swipe your finger, it becomes multi-factor authentication.

6.8.1. Smart cards and tokens

A smart card is a small device (typically the size and shape of a credit card) that contains its own microprocessor ...

With Safari, you learn the way you learn best. Get unlimited access to videos, live online training, learning paths, books, interactive tutorials, and more.

Start Free Trial

No credit card required