Private data is not as hidden as believed. Would it come as a surprise to learn that your estranged spouse may be easily tracking your electronic communications, even communication with your lawyer? With the advent of wireless storage and cloud-based systems like iCloud, it is important to maintain privacy on all fronts during your divorce.
iCloud was introduced by Apple in 2011 for iOS, Mac, and PC devices and serves as a storage and synchronization solution for users who own multiple devices. If you own an Apple computer or mobile device, then your data is nearly always automatically synced with iCloud. Similarly, for Android devices your data is synced with Google+ cloud storage. To disable automatic syncing, users must make specific changes to their account settings, which many people do not do. If you and your spouse share an iCloud account, they will have unrestricted access to most of the information stored on your devices. This includes text messages, contacts, photos, location services, and other forms of private information.
If you are planning to divorce or already going through the divorce process, it is critical to change all your passwords and password recovery questions. When creating new passwords, it is important to be random and keep your spouse from guessing your passwords. Don’t use your maiden name, children’s middle names, high school mascots, or other easily acquired information. Make sure your new passwords are a random mixture of at least 12 different characters, including numbers, capital letters, and symbols. Also, do not use your name or username in your passwords and be sure to make your passwords substantially different between accounts. Once you create your new passwords, keep them secure and do not share with anyone. You may want to consider a password manager, such as LastPass or Dashlane, for heightened security.
If you shared an Apple or Google account, you will have to create a new personal account so your spouse will not be able to access any information your devices share with the cloud. For additional privacy, you may want to go to your devices’ iCloud settings and disable the “Find My iPhone” app, which will help to keep your location from being tracked. You may also want to disable Apple iMessage to prevent text messages from being delivered to other devices you may have logged in to. If you share an iCloud account with your spouse or children, they can easily monitor your messages by signing in with your Apple ID and password. It is also important to remember that photos taken on your devices will upload to cloud and be visible on ALL devices that are logged into your iCloud account.
If you are afraid that someone is trying to access your iCloud account, you can set up two-factor authentication upon login. You will be prompted to enter your username/password, and then a security code will be sent to another registered device for verification. You can also add a passcode lock or fingerprint lock on most devices to obtain access.
In today’s world, you can never be too safe when it comes it mobile and cyber security. When going through a divorce it is especially important to maintain privacy and keep communications with your attorney confidential.
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Partner at John F. Schutz, P.L.
Representing clients exclusively in family law cases for the past 24 years, Mr. Schutz is widely regarded as a marital and family law expert. He is Board Certified in marital and family law by The Florida Bar. As a Fellow of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML), Mr. Schutz is committed to elevating the standards and improving the practice of family law.
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