We often see people asking whether they are at risk of having their text messages read by third-parties looking to steal their information. In this article we want to cover just how much of a risk it is to you as an iPhone user and what you can do to ensure you’re fully protected against it.
Can someone spy on my text messages?
Yes, it’s definitely possible for someone to spy on your text messages and it’s certainly something you should be aware of – this is a potential way for a hacker to gain a lot of private information about you – including accessing PIN codes sent by websites used to verify your identity (such as online banking).
Here’s how someone might gain access to your text messages:
- They can steal or physically get hold of your iPhone and try to view them.
- If you backup or synchronize your phone to iCloud then anybody who has the details for that account, or even has their phone connected to the same account (a family member, for example), could potentially see your personal text messages.
- If someone installs spyware onto your device, then they can remotely access any of the data on your iPhone – including all of your text messages.
How can I stop someone reading my messages?
Luckily, there are a few methods you can use to prevent people reading your text messages:
Use a strong passcode.
This prevents anyone that steals your phone from accessing and reading your messages and makes it much harder for someone to guess your passcode. The longer your passcode, the better. According to this article about police hacking iPhone passcodes in the US, the best passcode length is between 9 and 12 characters.
Disable text message forwarding.
This is a feature that allows other devices logged into the same iCloud account to receive iMessages. This is great if you are using multiple Apple devices, but if you are sharing your account with another person or family member, this means that they will receive your messages on their device.
The best way to combat this is to not share your account with anyone. It’s much more secure for everyone to have their own accounts.
Alternatively, you can simply disable text message forwarding by tapping Settings > Messages > Text Message Forwarding.
Turn off lock screen message previews.
Having new message previews appear on the lock screen of your device is a potential security risk. This makes it very simple for someone to just read your text messages without even having to log into your iPhone.
To disable this feature, tap Settings > Notifications > Messages > Show Previews and change to ‘Never’ or ‘When Unlocked’.
Use an anti-intruder app.
Apps such as iAntiTheft will allow you to use an alarm to catch or deter any would be snoopers from tampering with your phone by using different triggers to detect interference (e.g. when the device is moved or when the power cable is unplugged).
Enable two-factor authentication for iCloud.
Enabling this feature adds an extra layer of protection on top of just using a password. This feature requires any attackers to also have physical access to your device as any login attempts require inputting a unique code that is displayed on the device associated with the account.
This prevents any hacking attempts even if the attacker knows the account credentials.
Additionally, enabling this feature will also allow you to block iCloud monitoring tools such as Highster – which is a commercially available spy service commonly used for monitoring backed-up data from victim’s iPhones.
Use security software to protect your device.
Sometimes the only way to fully protect yourself is by installing some protective software that will be able to check your device to ensure that nothing malicious has been installed.
Software such as our own Certo AntiSpy is designed to protect you against outside threats and scan for any installed spyware on your device, along with any other signs of hacking.
Once you’ve scanned for any spyware on your device using Certo AntiSpy, keeping your iPhone updated, using a strong passcode and also enabling two-factor authentication will go a long way towards keeping your phone strongly protected in the future.
What about other data on my iPhone?
Alongside text messages, if a hacker manages to install spyware onto your device then there is virtually no limit to the amount of information they can extract, this can include:
- Chat messages (Whatsapp, Facebook Messenger, etc)
- Photos and videos
- Web browser history
- Online accounts (email, online banking, social media, etc)
- GPS location (both live-view and a history of locations visited)
- Phone calls (again, they can be accessed either live or recorded)
- Login details for any apps installed on the device (dating apps, social media apps, etc)
- So much more
As you can see, that’s such a huge amount of information – enough that someone could do some serious damage to your life and identity. That’s why here at Certo, we’re so passionate about helping our customers keep their phones protected.