How To Automatically Delete iPhone 2FA Text Codes

The iPhone allows you to choose to have any 2FA codes that were texted to you to be automatically deleted after use. Here’s how to set that up.

It used to be that the best security you could have was a stong password. But data leaks made obtaining passwords easy. That’s why banks, social media sites, and other websites began implimenting two-factor authentication (2FA), giving users another layer of protection. 

A common way 2FA codes are delivered is via text – but that could leave you vulnerable, too. But now in iOS 17 and later, the iPhone can automatically delete your texted 2FA code after use. Here’s why that’s important and how to set it up.

What Is A 2FA Code?

Two-factor authentication (2FA) adds an additional layer of security to your onlline accounts. Instead of having to just enter a username and password for an account, you’ll also need to enter a random code (usually 6 digits) for any account you have 2FA enable for.

This code is a second form of authentication and ensures someone with your password can’t access you account with it alone – because they’ll need to enter the 2FA code as well. And unless they have phsyical access to your phone, it’s unlikely they can get ahold of the code remotely.

How Are 2FA Codes Delivered?

A 2FA code can be delivered to you via two primary ways. The first is the most secure. This is by use of an authenticator app, which will randomly generate a 2FA code every 30 seconds. Codes are only good for 30 seconds, so you need to be quick in entering it.

An older way to get a 2FA code is the website or service can automatically text you one after you complete the first part of your login with your password. However, these texted 2FA codes have their drawbacks. Regular text message (SMS) are insecure and can be read by third parties with enough hacking skills. A third party could also spoof your SIM card and thus get the texted codes being sent to you.

But another security risk with texted 2FA codes is that the text messages can linger in your messaging app unless you delete them. And while the texted codes do expire, simply having a text message from a website or service can reveal the accounts you have to someone who gains access to your phone.

How To Automatically Delete iPhone 2FA Text Codes

It’s always a good idea to delete any text message with a 2FA code for the above reasons. But people often forget to do this. That’s why in iOS 17, Apple has added the ability for the iPhone to automatically delete 2FA texted codes afer they are used.

How does the iPhone know when the code is used? It’s software can detext when a code is delivered and automatically insert the code into the waiting field on the website or app you are in. Once the code is autofilled, the iPhone knows it can be deleted since it can’t be used again.

Here’s how to set up the iPhone to automaitcially delete texted 2FA codes:

  1. Open the Settings app.
  2. Tap Passwords.
  3. Tap Password Options.
  4. Under the “Verification Codes” header, toggle the switch next to “Clean Up Automatically” to ON (green).

Your texted 2FA codes will now be auotmaitcally deleted they next time they are used. This setting also allows emailes with 2FA codes to be automatically deleted, too.

Take 2FA To The Next Level

If your service or website gives you the option between how you would like your 2FA codes delivered, know that it is always faster and easier to have 2FA codes delivered using an autheticator app. The iPhone has a 2FA code authenticator app built into it, or you can use third-party authenticator apps. 

You can also use phsyical security keys that need to be inserted into your device in lieu of a 2FA code. One such key is the YubiKey.

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Michael Grothaus

Michael Grothaus is an American author and journalist with a flair for exploring the intersection of technology, creativity, and digital culture. With a background in film, journalism, and creative writing, he brings a unique perspective to the world of mobile technology. His work has been featured in renowned publications like Fast Company, The Guardian, and Engadget. At KnowYourMobile, Michael leverages his extensive knowledge to guide readers through the complexities of mobile devices, helping them make informed choices in the fast-paced tech landscape.

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