Everyone knows about the prevalence and dangers of computer viruses. But while you might have antivirus software installed on your desktop or laptop, odds are your iPhone isn’t nearly as well protected. Does that matter — in fact, can iPhones even get viruses?
Let’s answer this question in a detailed exploration of iPhone viruses, security measures, and how to fix viruses if your phone gets one.
Do iPhones Get Viruses?
Technically, it is much rarer to get a virus on your iPhone than on another mobile device like an Android phone or Windows phone. iPhone viruses are particularly rare compared to viruses on a Windows PC or desktop.
Why is this? In short, it's because Apple's iOS (and the Mac OS) uses a closed sandbox or ecosystem. This prevents viruses from infecting one part of your phone and quickly moving to another.
Every app on an iPhone device runs in its own virtual space, separated from the others. Because interactions are inherently restricted, it's much harder for viruses to spread and interfere with iPhone operations.
Furthermore, you must download official Apple applications from the App Store. Apple verifies and double-checks apps that end up on the App Store, making it much less likely that you'll download a compromised app or virus by accident from the official App Store.
Still, your iPhone can get a virus through a phishing attack or a malicious website. If this happens, you might notice signs and symptoms like:
- Your operating system runs much more slowly
- Your phone overheats because viruses are using CPU resources and memory
- Your phone’s data usage goes up
- You notice strange third-party apps or files on your iPhone
- Your apps regularly crash
- Your battery drains more quickly than usual
Your iPhone could be at risk of many vulnerabilities from hackers or others, especially if it’s jailbroken. Common vulnerabilities include:
- Pop-up viruses encountered on Safari, Chrome, or other browsers
- Phishing scams, which you may encounter over email
- Malicious software like malware
- Malicious apps tailored to iPhone users, which may lead to overheating
How Can You Safeguard Your iPhone From Cyberattacks?
Even though the chances of getting an iPhone virus are slim, it’s a good idea to safeguard your iPhone from digital threats. You can do this in a few easy ways.
Don’t Download Suspicious Apps or Files
For starters, never download any suspicious apps or files showing signs of malware. If an app isn’t on the Apple App Store, try to avoid it if you can. That’s the best way to make sure that all the applications on your phone are verified and virus free.
Similarly, don’t download viruses from sources you don’t trust 100%. This extends to work sources as well. If you have to download work files, try to do so on a secure network, like your workplace’s secure cloud network.
Don’t give any suspicious apps permission to access your iPhone or iPad. Spyware often relies on permissions, so don’t download apps or open text messages you don’t need to.
Use an Antivirus App
It’s also a good idea to download and regularly use an antivirus app to scan your iPhone. Antivirus apps from developers like Avast are free and easy ways to keep your phone clean and running smoothly for years to come.
Once an antivirus app is installed on your phone, it will automatically shield you from many viruses or suspicious traffic you may encounter while browsing.
Don’t Visit Suspicious Sites
Just like you shouldn’t download suspicious files, you should also not visit any suspicious websites. Try to keep your web browsing to sites with SSL certification or a padlock symbol in the address bar.
Don’t Jailbreak Your Phone
Jailbreaking iPhones is popular but could expose your iPhone to more viruses. When you jailbreak your phone, you open up its root code for modification.
Typically, this keeps your iPhone safe; if you jailbreak your phone to modify the aesthetics or remove default apps, you might be more vulnerable to viral infections.
Use a VPN
A VPN or virtual private network is a handy tool when browsing online using a public Wi-Fi network on your iOS device. Use a VPN to mask your IP address and make your iPhone much harder to hack by a would-be identity thief or digital criminal.
You can download iPhone VPN applications from the app store. Generally, paying for a good VPN app to boost your iPhone security is better than settling for a free, subpar service.
Disable your iPhone’s automatic Bluetooth settings so it doesn’t automatically connect to public Bluetooth networks. Doing so could expose it to viral attacks if you aren’t careful. By default, your phone automatically connects to Bluetooth networks.
Turning this off means you’ll have to connect to Bluetooth networks manually. Still, it’s a far safer option when carrying your iPhone out and about.
Turn off Cookies
If a site prompts you to accept cookies, deny them. Similarly, go into your phone's settings and turn off cookies. Cookies are used to track you and gather advertising data for big companies.
Not only is this not necessary in your life, but it also makes it easier for viruses like malware to track you.
How Can You Get Rid of Viruses on an iPhone?
What if the worst happens, and you suspect there’s a virus on your iPhone? In that case, you can get rid of viruses using several methods.
Restart Your Phone
Firstly, you can restart your iPhone. This essential step could eliminate surface-level or simple viruses that haven't yet burrowed deeper into your phone's software. It would be best to restart your phone regularly to eliminate junk files and cookies.
Update the iOS
Updating your iPhone’s iOS is another good way to eliminate viruses and avoid identity theft. Regular iOS security updates include virus sweeps and checks, and they may plug loopholes that allow a virus to get onto your phone in the first place.
Your iPhone will prompt you to update automatically from time to time. But you can manually do this by:
- Opening the Settings Apps
- Tapping General
- Tapping Software Update
- Tapping Download and Install
Then follow the on-screen instructions, and you’ll complete the update in minutes.
Restore a Previous Backup Version
You may instead need to restore your phone to a backup version of itself. By doing this, you’ll lose any files or downloads you made between the backup date and the current version of your iPhone.
You should only do this if you didn’t get rid of a virus using other methods (aside from doing a factory reset, which is even more drastic).
Delete Suspicious Apps
See some odd or unfamiliar apps you don’t remember downloading on your home screen? Delete those suspicious apps ASAP, as they indicate a malware infection.
The longer you leave those apps to linger, the worse they may make your phone perform and the more damage they can cause.
Reset to Your Factory Settings
Alternatively, you can factory reset your iPhone if a virus is proving particularly stubborn. Note that this is a last-ditch effort, as a factory reset will remove any files on your phone and require you to reinstall all apps aside from the default Apple-sponsored collection.
To factory reset your phone:
- Backup all of your iPhone files to iTunes or perform an iCloud on a desktop computer
- Go to Settings
- Click General, then Transfer or Reset iPhone
- Then click Erase All Content and Settings
After a few minutes, your iPhone will reboot and essentially be good as new. Hopefully, this will wipe away any virus that piggybacked onto your device via a cookie or suspicious app.
Use an Antivirus App
Lastly, download and use an antivirus app. Free and paid antivirus apps offer virus removal services. During these services, they scan your phone, identify malware and other virus types, and try to remove them using specialized software tools.
Antivirus apps are not infallible, however. Some viruses can escape their scans, and others may be impossible to remove without advanced assistance.
Still, many antivirus apps can eliminate the lion’s share of everyday viruses you may encounter. Best of all, many antivirus apps are free.
As you can see, iPhones can get viruses and other malware. However, it’s usually rare compared to Windows phones, computers, or laptops. Still, it’s good to know how to safeguard your phone from common viruses like malware or ransomware.
If your phone is already compromised or isn’t working as well as it used to, you might be able to find a better mobile device using Navi's Phone Navigator service.
This service will connect you to dozens of different phone deals based on your budget limitations and personal preferences. Try it today and get a new iPhone that runs better than ever.