How to un-link your Apple products (and stop your privacy from being violated)

Have you ever had your privacy violated? Has someone ever read your private thoughts/conversations? If so…this post is for you, and to stand in solidarity with you.

Recently, some things came up in my professional life that bled over in to my personal life and I decided that some changes needed to be made. After much stress, running many budget numbers, and endless hours of conversation with my nearest and dearest friends…I resigned from my job. As a personal assistant as well as a nanny, I had been given a computer to help with my boss’s admin work (I am also a Certified Medical Administrative Assistant) and part of my resignation included giving back the computer.

Before returning the MacBook, I made sure to delete my info. I did NOT to a factory reset, which is a huge part of why I am writing this post. I disallowed the computer in iTunes, erased mail/messages, erased passwords in Chrome, etc. I felt good about it, and returned the computer. I am not a very “tech” person, though I can troubleshoot like a BOSS!

A few days after I returned the computer I received an email with some very personal information in it. As it turns out, somehow my former employer got in to my texts and emails on the computer, and read them. All of them. When I say “all of them” I don’t mean parts and pieces, I mean every. single. word. that he could get his eyes on. The kicker is that I did not use his computer as my method of communication, I sent these texts and emails from my phone, but due to Apple allowing message sharing between devices, he was able to see them. In my opinion, a person of sound ethics would never violate the privacy of another human being like that. On the off chance that the desire was so strong that one could not help it…I cannot imagine EVER turning to said person with private and confidential information and using it against them.

I know where my mistake was made, and I’m writing this to share with the world how to not be like me. When I set up the MacBook initially, I had to allow it access to my Apple ID, which was separate from my iTunes, but when I was breaking everything down, I forgot to change that ONE piece. One tiny misstep, and here I am.

If you own Apple products (iPhone, iPad, iPod, Macbook, Macbook Air, WHATEVER) and you intend to stop using them, you MUST follow these steps to separate the device from your Apple ID.

  1. Sign in to your apple ID from a device that is NOT the one you will be removing.
  2. Scroll down to the DEVICES category
  3. Click on the device you want to remove
  4. Remove the device from your Apple ID

Now, AFTER you have completed those four steps, reboot the device you want to erase, and reset it back to factory settings, there are myriad YouTube videos to talk you through the process.

I have since changed every password I have. I did so the day I got the scathing email. To any one who has had their privacy breached, I stand with you. I feel your pain. I feel the “Big Brother”, ominous feeling that you cannot shake. This has been a time of intense learning for me, as I am a very trusting person with an open heart. I don’t believe the world is out to get me, and if you had asked me a year ago if I thought that this person would have read my diary if I left it on the table, I would have said there was no way in hell. Yet, here I sit.

As time goes on, I will be okay. The violation of my privacy will blend in to the mushy memories of things that are unpleasant and I’ll find a way to trust and feel safe again. All of the other feelings surrounding this past couple of months…those will take a lot more to recover from. I don’t know when my heart will heal from the rest, but I do know that I am resilient.