Feeling a sense of fear and unease when you suspect that an unfamiliar person may be in the room with you, despite not being able to see them, is a very unpleasant experience. It becomes even more distressing when you turn around and actually see someone there. This can also occur in your online presence if your account is taken over by someone else, possibly without your knowledge, and they are accessing your information or keeping tabs on you.
Your Apple ID is not exempt. However, you have the ability to monitor both primary risks (such as other devices and logins) and secondary risks (such as apps and other services) that have access. It is important to review the devices and phone numbers linked to your Apple ID and conduct an overall audit using Safety Check, which was launched in September 2022.
Scan for unauthorized devices
To see a roster of devices that Apple deems as logged in and reliable for your Apple ID account, choose one of the following options:
Please log in to the Apple ID website and select the Devices option.
To access your account name in iOS/iPadOS, navigate to Settings and scroll down.
In macOS 13 Ventura or newer versions, click on the symbol, then select System Settings and choose Account Name from the list. Scroll down to view more options.
If you come across an unfamiliar device:
Capture a screenshot or photo of the item in the list, then click or tap on it to access its information, including its serial number. This may be useful if you require legal assistance or need to report it to law enforcement.
Select the option to Remove from Account, then confirm the removal.
This device is now deemed untrustworthy for logging in to your Apple ID account and cannot access newly synced information through iCloud services. However, any previously downloaded or cached information may still be retained.
Look for undesirable phone numbers.
Apple uses the phone numbers that you provide during setup or update in order to offer alternative methods for verifying your account if you are unable to access a trusted device or encounter other account problems. You can review these trusted numbers and if you come across a phone number that you do not recognize, you can take screenshots or photos and make a note of it. You also have the option to remove any unwanted numbers in these locations.
Here is a method for identifying and eliminating numbers:
To access the Apple ID website, sign in and select Sign-In and Security, followed by Account Security. The list of trusted phone numbers will be displayed at the top. To delete a number, click the minus sign and then confirm the removal by clicking Remove.
To access Two-Factor Authentication in iOS 17/iPadOS 17, navigate to Settings, then select your Account Name, followed by Sign-In & Security. (This option may be located one level higher in older versions of iOS/iPadOS.) Click on Edit, then click the delete icon and confirm to complete the process.
In macOS 13 Ventura, navigate to System Settings and then go to Account Name. From there, select Password/Sign-In & Security. In macOS 14 Sonoma, you will also need to click on Two-Factor Authentication. Once in the Trusted Phone Numbers section, choose the number you want to remove and click on the minus sign located at the bottom.
Check for safety
Conduct a safety inspection.
Beginning with iOS 16, there is a new privacy and safety function available called Safety Check. This feature aims to assist individuals who are experiencing stalking, intimate partner violence, or similar circumstances in determining if they are under surveillance or connected to someone they wish to avoid. It also includes safety measures and guidance for accessing external resources for assistance.
Find the feature at Settings > Privacy & Security > Safety Check. Note that on every screen, there’s a Quick Exit link. Tap that, and it essentially force quits Settings instantly, both preventing someone from seeing what’s on your screen and not re-opening a path back to Safety Check if Settings is relaunched.
Apple offers two options: Emergency Reset, which disconnects your iPhone and Apple ID account from all other devices and allows you to reset passwords; and Manage Sharing & Access, which allows you to review settings and make changes or restrictions at each stage.
Apple provides a comprehensive guide for this feature, which is recommended to consult before using it. This will ensure that you are aware of what to expect and the results of selecting any of its options.
This Mac 911 piece is a reply to an inquiry from a Macworld reader who wishes to remain anonymous.
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