We all enjoy the convenience that messaging apps and texting offer.
They let us stay in touch with loved ones and colleagues, no matter where we are or what time of day it is – without having to actually make a phone call.
Despite this convenience, text messages can also present a problem – and it’s a big one. Anyone who has access to your device can potentially read your private messages.
That’s why it’s so important to know how to protect your texts from unscrupulous eyes. If you’re interested in learning more about how to prevent snooping in your text messages, you’re in the right place.
In this post, we’ll give you information on how to safeguard your messages and what puts them at risk in the first place.
Who Can Read Your Text Messages?
If you’ve ever wondered who has access to your text messages, we’re sorry to inform you that snooping in text messages isn’t just for jealous lovers who might be suspicious about the messages you’re sending to other women!
No, unfortunately, more people have access to your text messages than you’re probably aware of – or would like.
Here are a few ways people get access to text messages.
1. Spying Through Wi-Fi Connection
One of the easiest ways for someone to intercept your text messages is through a Wi-Fi connection.
If you are connected to an unprotected Wi-Fi network (like the one you like to log into at your local Starbucks), someone could use a packet sniffer to read the content of your messages.
In fact, this is one of the most common methods used by hackers to steal personal information. So, next time you connect to an unknown Wi-Fi network, think twice before sending any sensitive information and use it for a quick Google or trending news check alone.
2. Spyware Hacking
Another way in which text messages can be intercepted is through the use of spyware.
Spyware is a type of software that can be installed on your phone without your knowledge, and it can be used to monitor your activity, including your text messages.
Spyware can be installed through various means, such as by clicking on a malicious link, downloading a fake app, or visiting a compromised website.
If you suspect that your phone is infected with spyware, you should take immediate action to remove it.
3. Reading Messages Through Physical Access
And of course, one of the most obvious ways for someone to read your text messages is by physically accessing your phone.
Whether it’s a nosy friend or a jealous partner, someone with access to your phone could easily read your messages without you even knowing.
Because of this, it’s important to take the most basic steps to protect your phone with a strong password, and to avoid leaving it unattended in public places.
How to Prevent Snooping in Your Text Messages
We rely on our phones for everything from keeping in touch with loved ones to online banking, so the thought of someone snooping through our text messages can be downright terrifying.
Here are some tips to prevent snooping in your text messages. Side note – many of these pieces of advice will help keep all of your other data safe, too, so it’s good practice to incorporate all of these in your messaging habits.
1. Just Keep Tabs on Your Phone – Plain and Simple
The easiest way to keep your text messages safe is to keep a close eye on your phone. Never leave your phone unattended, and don’t allow anyone else to use it.
If you must share your phone with someone, make sure it’s someone you trust implicitly. Keeping tabs on your phone is the most basic, yet effective, way to prevent snooping.
2. Put a Passcode On It
If you’re not already using a passcode to protect your phone, it’s time to start. With a passcode, you’ll be the only one who can access your phone’s contents, including your text messages.
Make sure your passcode is something that’s hard to guess, and never share it with anyone. As is the case with password permissions in general, make sure this passcode isn’t predictable and that it’s not used across multiple accounts on your mobile device.
3. Keep the Notification Screen Clean
Your phone’s notification screen can reveal a lot of sensitive information, including the sender and subject of your text messages.
To keep this information private, make sure your notification screen is clean. Don’t allow any sensitive information to be displayed, and know that it’s often a good idea to disable screen notification previews in general.
4. Silence Your Notifications
If you’re worried about someone seeing your text messages over your shoulder, turn off your notifications or put your phone on silent.
This way, no one will be able to be alerted to who’s messaging you or what they’re saying. If your phone is constantly singing and pinging with new notifications, people around you are going to be curious.
Eliminate that curiosity by silencing the notifications entirely.
5. Put Limits on how You Share Your Phone
If you plan on sharing your phone with someone, like a family member, consider setting up guided access (for iPhone) or screen pinning (for Android).
Guided access limits your device to a single app so that others can’t access your messages and other apps. Screen pinning allows you to pin a specific app to the screen so that no one can access other apps without your permission.
These features allow you to limit what someone can access on your phone, ensuring that they can’t access your text messages or other private information.
6. Get an Encrypted Phone
Encryption is a technique of encoding data so that it can only be read by someone who has the decryption key. Encrypted phones are the best way to protect your messages since they are designed to prevent snooping.
Use a phone with end-to-end encryption, which scrambles communication from your phone to the recipient’s device, making it unreadable to snooping eyes.
7. Use a Secure Messaging App
There are several messaging apps that offer end-to-end encryption. Signal, WhatsApp, and Telegram are favorites among top privacy advocates.
These apps are designed to encrypt your messages from your device to the recipient’s device, making it impossible for anyone to read your messages in between.
Remember to verify the recipient’s identity before sending sensitive information.
8. Secure Your Internet Browsing
Secure browsing is also important since snoops can use man-in-the-middle attacks to intercept your internet data.
Use a VPN service whenever you’re on public Wi-Fi to help encrypt your connection. HTTPS Everywhere is an example of a browser extension that encrypts your internet connection on supported sites.
9. Make Sure Text Message Forwarding Isn’t Enabled
Text message forwarding is a feature that sends texts to other devices tied to your iCloud account.
If someone has access to your Apple ID, they can enable this feature and get copies of all your messages. To disable it, go to Settings > Messages > Text Message Forwarding.
If you don’t see the option, turn off iMessage, then turn it back on and try again.
There are similar features available for chats on Android phones and Samsung as well.
10. Check to See if iCloud Backup is Enabled
iPad and iPhone users – this is an important one to be aware of. Check your iCloud backup settings.
iCloud backup is a convenient way to store your data and keep it synchronized across all your devices. However, it can also be a potential threat to your privacy if someone gains access to your iCloud account.
While you might think you’re safe because your password protects everything, if you’re sharing an iOSiCloud account with anyone – like a family member- you’re at a significantly higher risk of being snooped on.
A person with access to your iCloud account can retrieve your text messages and other sensitive information. Therefore, it’s crucial to check if iCloud backup is enabled and to secure your account with a strong password.
11. Make Sure Spyware Isn’t Installed
Spyware is malicious software used to spy on your mobile activities without your knowledge or consent. Spy apps can track your location, record your calls, and steal your text messages.
Spying software can be installed on your device through a malicious app, phishing email, or link.
Therefore, it’s essential to take every measure you can to guard against spyware apps, including keeping your device software up to date, avoiding clicking on suspicious links, and installing apps from trusted sources only.
12. Use an Anti-Intruder App
An anti-intruder app is a security app that detects and prevents unauthorized access to your device. It can set off an alarm when your device is being tampered with, take a photo of the intruder, or even wipe your data remotely.
One such app is iAntiTheft, available for both iOS and Android devices. It lets you set up an alarm that goes off when someone tries to unlock your device with the wrong passcode. The app also takes screenshots of the snoopers and sends it to your email address.
13. Enable Two-Factor Authentication for iCloud
Two-factor authentication is an additional layer of security that requires a code sent to your phone or email before logging in. To enable this feature on iCloud, go to Settings > Your Name > Password & Security > Two-Factor Authentication.
14. Be Careful About Using Public WiFi
Public WiFi networks are hotspots for hackers and snoops. Always avoid using public WiFi networks for sharing any personal information. If you must, only use a secure VPN service to encrypt your data.
How to Tell if Someone Has Been Snooping on Your Phone
If you suspect that someone has been looking into your phone, don’t fret quite yet! Here are some telltale signs to look out for that can confirm if someone has been snooping on your phone.
The first sign is unusually high data usage. When someone is sifting through your phone, they will inevitably use up data in the process.
If you notice your data usage has spiked lately and you haven’t been doing anything out of the ordinary, someone may be secretly going through your phone.
Notice your device lighting up, ringing, or buzzing more frequently than usual when it’s not in use? This could indicate that someone is trying to access your phone while it’s in standby mode, too.
The same goes for a cell phone that is suddenly running hotter or slower than usual. If your device is getting warm to the touch in standby or idle mode, that’s a sign that spyware or malware on your device is causing it to work overtime.
Another sign is unexpected reboots. It is not uncommon for your phone to reboot itself occasionally.
But if you notice that your phone is turning off or restarting a lot more than usual, or at strange times – or, worst-case scenario, performing an unprompted factory reset – someone could be trying to gain access to your phone.
Other signs of snooping on a phone include:
- Decreasing battery life: If you find yourself needing to charge your phone more frequently than usual, someone may be using your phone regularly without your knowledge.
- Increased shutdown time: If it takes longer for your phone to turn off or restart than usual, it’s possible that someone has tampered with it or installed malware on it.
- Difficulty shutting down or rebooting: Is your phone refusing to shut down or restart? It may be indicative that someone has installed spyware or other malicious software onto your phone, which can use up resources and make your phone hard to power off.
Be Vigilant at All Times
Ultimately, you can never go completely dark or private with your messages – be mindful of what you’re sending because you never know whose hands it might fall into.
Messaging apps are an essential part of our lives, but like any technology, they come with a set of inherent risks.
And as is the case with anything in life, the goal should be to mitigate those risks to the greatest extent possible. Sekur can help.
Sekur is a cybersecurity and Internet privacy provider of Swiss-hosted solutions. It offers secure data management and communications, offering everything from cloud-based storage, document management, encrypted emails, and secure messaging tools.
If you’re sick of worrying about who’s reading your text messages, Sekur might be just the tool for you. Protect your data – and peace of mind – by putting privacy at the top of your to-do list.