In an effort to combat “technology-enabled abuse, stalking, or harassment,” Apple has introduced security features dedicated to managing access to data such as location and shared subscriptions. This can be a huge help for those who are abused and who fear their devices will be used against them.
What is a safety check?
Security Checkup was introduced by Apple with the iOS 16 update to provide a quick way to review settings and revoke access to potentially sensitive information. You can do all this manually using apps like Find My or by diving into the settings menu, but Safety Check brings everything together in one place for peace of mind.
The feature works in two ways: as a kill switch that quickly revokes access to apps, and as a list to review and revoke permissions on a person-by-person or app-by-app basis.
In addition to who can see your information, Security Check gives you quick control over Shared albums you may have shared photos with, shared notes you may be part of, health data you may have shared, shared calendar subscriptions, and HomeKit-enabled devices you might be interested in disabling.
Then there are apps that have been given access to permissions like your location data, microphone, access to Bluetooth, your camera, your photos and other media libraries, contact list, health data (read and write), and the ability to search for devices on your local network.
Security Check also performs a quick review of the security of your Apple ID account. You will get a list of devices that are currently logged in as well as the option to revoke access to any of them. You can also review the list of trusted phone numbers, which are numbers that can receive verification codes for the purposes of two-factor authentication.
You will be invited to change your password if you believe this is necessary, and remove any SOS emergency numbers you no longer wish to appear on your Medical ID. These numbers can be accessed without unlocking your device should your device be lost, so it pays to take the time to make sure the right people are included.
To make the feature even more discreet, Apple has placed a “Quick Exit” button in the top-right corner of the screen for anyone who feels the need to quickly hide the menu from prying eyes.
Use a security check like a lock key
If you want to completely reset access to your account in a few clicks, using a security check like a kill switch is the best course of action. This will remove all permissions, including those for apps and people you trust. You’ll need to configure it again under Settings > Privacy, and re-subscribe to shared subscriptions in apps like Photos or Calendars.
Head to Settings > Privacy > Security Check and choose Emergency Reset to get started. You will need to verify your identity with Face ID, Touch ID, or a passcode; Then press the “Start Emergency Reset” button to get started.
There are three steps you’ll need to take to complete the process, and you can hit the “Quick Exit” button at any time to go back to the home screen and leave no trace of the menu you were on.
The first lets you revoke all permissions for people and apps, including your location data, shared photo albums, etc. Tap the Reset People & Apps button, then confirm with the Reset prompt.
The next step works through your devices to make sure you’re happy with the locations where your Apple ID is currently being used. Select the devices and then tap “Remove Selected Devices” to sign out. Then, you can review trusted phone numbers (and add another) to receive verification codes, and then update your password if you deem necessary.
The last step is to review the emergency SOS settings to Remove or add emergency contacts that appear on your medical ID. At the end of the process, you’ll see some additional tips for items outside of Apple’s control, such as sharing on other networks and mobile plan privacy.
Use security check to manage access
If you prefer not to take the all-or-nothing approach and review each permission individually. This is an ideal way for those who want to preserve some sharing settings and who have time to carefully review the list. You can keep shared subscriptions in apps like Photos and Calendar, Collaborate in Notes, and even share your location with trusted friends or family.
To get started, tap the Manage Sharing and Access button under Settings > Privacy > Security Check. This menu will guide you through everything, allowing you to first remove specific people or currently shared data before moving on to accessing the app, currently signed in devices, trusted numbers, password settings, emergency SOS contacts, and your device passcode .
You can access all of these settings separately across the operating system. For example, you will find a list of contacts that can track your location in the Find My app. Apps that can see your location are listed under Settings > Privacy > Location Services. You can also head to Settings and scroll down to find an app, then review its permissions from that list.
Once you revoke the permission, you will not see any pop-up boxes asking you to grant the permission again, you will instead need to grant the permission manually under Settings > Privacy.
Other useful privacy tips
When you revoke access to data such as your location, third parties will not receive a notification to let them know. They’ll notice that you’ve stopped sharing with them when they try to track your location, view subscribers to an album, or something like that.
The security check process mainly affects your iPhone. The service allows you to revoke login access on other devices, but this only applies to your Apple ID. If you have other devices like Android smartphone or Windows PC, you may want to check that these devices are not set up in a way that puts your privacy at risk.
AirTags can also be used against you to track your location. Apple has built-in protections to prevent stalking, so make sure you know what to do if you see an “AirTag was found with you” notice.
If you don’t use unique passwords for your accounts, or you’re worried that someone has been able to access your passwords for a while, change your passwords for services like email, social media, online banking, and anything else. Your concern is a solid plan.
Be careful what you post on social media, even if your account is locked. The photos can reveal where you live, your current location, and other private information that may be used against you. Ensure that your Facebook account is closed appropriately.
If you are using a shared mobile plan, you should also be aware that information such as call history may be available to the account owner. If there are security cameras in your residence that are linked to someone else’s Apple ID, you should unplug them if you are concerned that they could be used against you.
Security check needs iOS 16 or higher
The security scan was introduced in September 2022 with the release of iOS 16. If you don’t see the option under Settings > Privacy, you may need to update your device under Settings > General > Software update.
Your device must be compatible with iOS 16 for this setting to appear. If you have an older device, you can review your privacy settings manually instead.
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