Texting has become a popular form of communication today. Friends, family, coworkers, and businesses are all prone to sending texts. While texting is incredibly convenient, it does come with privacy risks. Your text messages contain personal information and insights into your daily life. If they fall into the wrong hands, this could expose your identity and cause harm. Fortunately, there are ways to text more anonymously and protect your privacy.
When you send a standard text message on your smartphone, it’s not encrypted or secured. Your cell phone carrier has access to these messages as they pass through their servers. While carriers claim not to view message content directly, the messages could potentially be shared with authorities or hackers. Your messages also be backed up to cloud servers, exposing them further. Additionally, if someone gets access to your phone itself, they easily read your full-text history. So texting over regular SMS poses privacy risks and makes anonymity difficult.
Masking your phone number
Even when using encrypted apps, your phone number gives away your identity. Here are some ways to hide your phone number when texting:
- Temporary phone numbers: Apps like Burner provide disposable numbers that forward calls and texts to your real number. You set a custom expiration date for each burner number.
- VOIP numbers: Services like Google Voice and TextNow allow you to choose a virtual phone number to make and receive calls over wifi. It masks your real carrier number.
- SIM card swap: You purchase an anonymous prepaid SIM card using cash, then swap it into your phone temporarily to text with a new number.
Using anonymous messaging sites
For sending completely protected text without any phone number, you use websites that allow you to chat privately without revealing your identity.
- PrivNote: This site lets you write encrypted messages that the recipient only reads once. After reading, the note disappears forever. No accounts are needed.
- Disroot Private Bin: Create end-to-end encrypted messages that are burned after reading. No login is required and they support Tor access.
- Guerrillamail: Offers disposable temporary email addresses when you need to share contact details anonymously.
- Cryptocat: Lets you chat securely in encrypted private chat rooms erased after you leave. No signups are necessary.
Beware of sms spoofing and phishing
When texting anonymously, be cautious of potential spoofing attacks. Spoofing is when someone fakes the sender ID to appear as if a message is from your bank, utility provider, etc. Do not click links or provide sensitive info over text if you have suspicions. Also, use common sense phishing avoidance strategies like looking for poor grammar and spelling mistakes.
- Never text sensitive information like passwords or financial details, even if using an encrypted app.
- Frequently delete your text history and messaging apps to clear data trails.
- Turn off SMS previews on your lock screen to prevent peeking eyes.
- Enable disappearing/self-destructing messages when possible.
- Disable backups so texts are not stored externally in the cloud.