News stories of data breaches, stolen identities, hi-jacked accounts and other cyber-crimes are at this point no more odd than those of fires or car accidents - they occur on a daily basis and don't seem to have any end-all solution in sight, at least not anytime soon. Just as one keeps a fire extinguisher and wears a safety belt for prevention and protection, so should one use every available tool to protect against cyber-crimes. One of the simplest yet most effective tools that can beef up your online security and privacy is two-factor authentication, also known as 2FA.
Beginning on June 15, any third-party apps that use your iCloud account will be required to employ app-specific passwords in order to beef up security around your Apple ID. This includes any mail, contact or calendar services that use your Apple ID login to access your iCloud data, such as Microsoft Outlook, Mozilla Thunderbird, etc. On June 15, you will automatically be signed out of any apps that you are signed into with your Apple ID and you will need to create a password specifically for the app in question.
A group of hackers claims to have access to a large number of iCloud and Apple email accounts. Allegedly there are hundreds of millions of stolen accounts and passwords in the database, which media outlets have not been able to fully verify. Apple responded by confirming there have been no breaches in any of their systems. So where did the Apple accounts leak from?
Apple will soon cease support for signing into the iTunes Store with AOL screen names. Those wishing to continue using iTunes or access previous purchases must convert their AOL sign in information into an Apple ID. The change will take effect on March 30, after which Apple will not provide support for AOL Username accounts.
iTunes users needing to convert to an Apple ID can sign in normally with their AOL screen name, and Apple will automatically ask to make the conversion. Once the process is complete, the Apple ID will retain access to all previous content purchased with the AOL Username in the iTunes Store, App Store, and iBooks Store. No other AOL services connected to the AOL screen name will be affected.
The short answer is no. Apple does not require credit card information to create an Apple ID. Free content can be downloaded without a billing method.
There is a trick to creating an Apple ID without a credit card. Check here for complete instructions on how to open an Apple ID account with no credit card.