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How to Secure Your iCloud Account from Spies

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Have you ever wondered if someone is spying on you through your iCloud account? That’s exactly what happened to Britney Spears when her father Jamie hired a security firm to set up a way to spy on her through iCloud.

Because Jamie Spears had Britney’s Apple ID password, he was easily able to gain access to her digital information through iCloud. She was unaware of this while it was going on. Thankfully, Britney is out of her father’s reach now that her conservatorship has ended.

If you’ve given your iCloud password to someone in the past, they can use it to spy on you. There is also the chance your iCloud password has been hacked unbeknownst to you. And even if no one has your iCloud password, you may still be at risk of an iCloud security breach. Here’s how you can protect yourself.

What’s accessible through iCloud

When you think of iCloud, you might be thinking mainly about the photos stored there. While these can certainly be accessed by someone who has broken into your iCloud account, they aren’t the only personal information available on your iCloud.

Aside from photos, your iCloud account contains records of iMessages, FaceTime calls, notes, and your browser history. As you can imagine, the combination of all of this data provides a startling window into your personal life. Cybercriminals and hackers can use this information to harm you.

If there’s such a big risk of exposing your personal information, is it worth it to continue using iCloud? For most people, the convenience of linking your devices and storing your data is worth the risk. You just need to be aware of how to secure your account against online threats.

How to check whether you’re being spied on

If you’re worried someone has been spying on you through your iCloud account, there is an easy way for you to check. Note that this requires you to use your computer rather than your phone. Here are the steps you can take:

  1. Go to System Preferences on your Mac.
  2. Click Apple ID.
  3. Check which devices are listed in the left column. These are all linked to your account.
  4. If any of these devices are not yours, you can get rid of them by selecting the device and then clicking Remove from Account at the bottom of the screen.

Have you discovered an unwanted device on your account? Think through your next steps carefully. Once you remove this device from your account, the unwanted user will likely find out you’re aware of their spying. Cybercriminals can become even more intimidating once there are boundaries enforced. You may want to seek out a domestic violence or support professional to help walk you through this process.

Tips for protecting your iCloud account

While Apple is very conscientious about privacy and security, it inevitably relies on a variety of third parties to host iCloud data. Furthermore, clouds are open systems with a larger surface area for attackers to target. All of this means you should be careful whenever you’re using iCloud or another cloud to store your data. Here are some best practices for securing your iCloud account.

1. Use an extremely strong password and enable 2FA

Your iCloud account should have a very secure password consisting of a mix of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters. It’s even better if you use a password manager like 1Password to randomly create a password and then store it for you. This goes for all of your online logins, not just your iCloud.

If you haven’t already done so, turn on two-factor authentication (2FA) for your Apple ID. This makes it so that unknown devices cannot access your iCloud without your permission, even if they have your password. Go to System Preferences > Apple ID > Password & Security to enable 2FA.

2. Keep your devices updated

A device that’s running an older software version is a device at risk of a security breach. Of course, your iCloud account is more likely to be compromised if your device is hacked. That’s why it’s so important to keep all of your device’s software updated.

Aside from improving your online safety, updating your devices gives you access to exciting new features. Your devices are more likely to be compatible with newer devices as well.

3. Encrypt all of your Apple devices

Data encryption is an extra layer of security that protects your data on your various devices. It’s wise to take a moment to check whether each of your devices is encrypted so that your data stays safe.

On your Mac, go to System Preferences > Security & Privacy > FileVault to check whether FileVault disk encryption is on. On your iPhone, go to Settings > Face ID & Passcode. Once you enter your passcode, scroll down to the bottom of the screen. If you see the Data protection is enabled message, this means your phone data is encrypted.

4. Access iCloud using a VPN if possible

Using a Virtual Private Network (VPN) makes it much tougher for hackers to track your online activity. If you have a VPN, be sure to turn it on whenever you’re accessing iCloud. In fact, we recommend turning on your VPN any time you go online.

Don’t have a VPN? You can still protect yourself by never accessing your iCloud from an open WiFi network. Only access your iCloud from trusted networks such as your home or office WiFi.

Your iCloud account stores a lot of your personal information. The best way to protect yourself is to develop great online safety practices. You won’t have to worry about spies as long as you keep careful tabs on which devices can access your account.

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