If you use iCloud, make sure it is properly secured — now

A friend told me this tale of woe that someone he knows had all their Mac Things compromised to the point where they were no longer working. Before I describe the situation, if you use iCloud, do these three things now:

  1. Change your iCloud password now. Pick something unique, complex enough to satisfy all of Apple’s requirements (lower case, upper case, a number and a symbol). For easy typing on phones, I use a series of words with the other adornments. I know changing passwords is a pain. But please do this now. Really. I will wait.
  2. Go to the iCloud security settings page and make sure you are using a two-factor method that isn’t SMS-based (and if you dare, uses passkeys).
  3. Go to your photo collection, and delete pictures of your ID documents, like driver’s license or passport. If you travel (remember travel?), one of the things they tell you is to make copies of your ID in your photo stream. I don’t think that is safe advice now, and will explain later. If you want to keep copies of these documents, make a printed photocopy and keep it in a different place from your actual documents.

Now, why go through all this? If you don’t know about SIM swapping, take a moment to click on that piece that I wrote a few years ago and learn more about it. Basically, once a criminal knows your cell phone number, they can impersonate you and get your phone number reassigned to their own phone and the fun begins.

What if you don’t use iCloud but use Google’s Account? You should follow a similar path, particularly if you have an Android phone.

Now, why the business of deleting your identity docs? This is because once someone has control over your iCloud, they look through your photo stream and find these things, and then use that as the authentication process to recover your other accounts. And if you employ the “fake birthday” dodge (as I do and described here) you will have additional pain and suffering if you have to show your ID and the person you are talking to can’t match it to your fake birthday that you set up when you first created your FaceTwitTok account.

Happy holidays folks. Don’t respond to texts from out of the blue. Don’t click on anything in email, even from someone you correspond with. And don’t reuse your passwords and eat your veggies while you are at it too.

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